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Kazakhstan

I was there for 5+ years

Various things

Postby travelling scot » Thu 25 Nov 2004 15:12 GMT

Thanks for the reply-i sent you a PM several weeks ago,but perhaps you didn't get it.It was about teaching English,as i think that's what you were doing,but i can ask questions here.
As a Brit,what is your view of the ethnic mix there,both among locals and foreigners,i.e. are the locals mainly Kazak,Uzbek,Russian,and what is the mix of foreigners with regard to native speakers (Mainly UK/US ?) and others ? In case anyone has the wrong idea,i would like to know what sort of country i would be going to.
I've read a couple of books on the area(Colin Thubron,Laurens van der Post),but they don't say what's happening today of course.I've also looked at another website with postings from KZ and i saw that there were strong links with USA,like all prices quoted in dollars and many of the members were either American or locals who had been to USA for work-is that a fair comment ?
I'll post a new topic here,and get an idea of how many people are viewing, then i'll also post in Armenia as i've got friends here in Bg who are Armenian.
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Kazakhs of course and ...

Postby duncanwil » Thu 25 Nov 2004 20:43 GMT

Kazakhs are dominant now but there are still many Russians. Lots of Koreans and Germans there too: history, don't yer know! In reality there is a mixture of over 100 ethnic groupings in and around Almaty and Kazakhstan.

Dollars became the preferred currency in the early 90s and are still quoted widely even though there is only one official currency, the Tenge.

You will find a lot of Brits as well as Yanks teaching English but the work I did there has since been taken over by Yanks so any traces of our European work have long gone.

A lot of locals have been to the USA to study but a lot have also come here to the UK and other parts of Europe. Loyalties will be divided on that score.

Like the ethnic groupings, the expat community is rich in its diversity.
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Rents in Almaty

Postby jeffik » Mon 29 Nov 2004 11:20 GMT

Rents in Almaty have rocketed in recent years (in towns and cities in the provinces, the opposite has been happening). There is a main street, called Ablay Khan, which sort of divides the city into desirable and not so desirable, regarding property anyway. If you live to the East of this line, you are close to the business quarter, and rents are frightening. To the west of the street, rents begin to get progressively lower. Go three or four blocks to the West, and you should find affordable property.

If you plan to work for a Language School there, they should provide you with accommodation. Make sure it's not too far out into the suburbs, as some of these suburbs are not too desirable, especially at night. If you can locate a map of Almaty on the web, you should be able to get an idea of what I'm talking about - and you should be able to locate any prospective apartment.

Good Luck

jeff
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Interesting !

Postby travelling scot » Mon 29 Nov 2004 15:47 GMT

It just shows not to take things for granted-although there are lots of Brits who are now living here in Bulgaria,i don't think there is really an expat community.Apart from the capital Sofia, where any foreigners seem to be working,most other Brits i've come across are here for property,especially on the Black Sea coast where i live and work.
In my ignorance,i honestly expected KZ to have a touch of the "Wild frontier" about it,but it sounds as if there are more foreigners working there than i thought.Has it got to the stage of having a McDonalds or similar on every street,as that would be one reason to prevent me from coming-if i want that sort of Western consumerism,i could work nearer home.
With all the documentation there,i would certainly arrive via a language school,as i just turned up here and found my own job(s) many months before getting it all legalised ! I don't need all that sort of hassle again,so i'd let a school do the hard work,as they probably have contacts.Do you know if native speakers are appreciated by either the students(Good behaviour) or by the employers (Good salary) ?
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Gorge yourself!

Postby duncanwil » Mon 29 Nov 2004 19:43 GMT

There are oodles of fast food restaurants there now: some not too bad and others just manky. The same as everywhere else. Then there are the higher class hotels offering haute cuisine and their Sunday Brunches as well worth a try.

Good teachers are appreciated everywhere and bad teachers are loathed. Turn up and be good and you'll have friends for life. Turn up and get a reputation as a slacker, drinker, womaniser and you will quickly see your students head for another class, where the good teacher is; and you'll be on your way home.

I can't recommend a school for you but I've never had to organise a visa in my life!

Duncan
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Almaty - Atyrau

Postby jeffik » Tue 30 Nov 2004 03:51 GMT

Dear Flying Scotsman (I assume you'll be arriving by air!)

Almaty has its fill of fast-food joints, as Duncan has said, but there's no McDonalds as yet. There are, however, plenty of 3rd division copies. I would say that the level of retail development is very patchy: in some isolated spots in Almaty they could probably match the likes of Warsaw and Prague, but levels of service remain quite Soviet, in general. In most areas there are still plenty (plenty!) of cheap bazaars and markets.

Now, if you're really looking for that 'wild frontier feel', you should try Atyrau, up on the Caspian. A colleague of mine opened a school there: but unfortunately he got killed. You can't get much more frontier than that, now, can you!?

jeff
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They're all third division

Postby duncanwil » Tue 30 Nov 2004 08:55 GMT

They're all third division, including McDonald's Jeff.

I disagree with you over the retailing side of things. Whilst I'm not a shopper by any means I think they are developing the centre of Almaty well enough, Rayons like Tastak have come on apace too.

Levels of service in many places are far from Soviet too: I remember from 1993 what you're talking about, though, so when it's Soviet, it's dire!

As a previous contributor to this thread noted once, my Kazakhstan experience is limited to Almaty and the road between Almaty and Bishkek; but I do know that in other areas there are the problems you describe in places like Atyrau.

Having said that some of the best people I have ever worked with come from Kazakhstan. On a personal level they are as good and bad as anywhere else, even allowing for the old influences that everyone suffers from, whether they are from Kaz, the UK or wherever.

Duncan
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Alamty April 2007

Postby SimonH » Sat 21 Apr 2007 22:31 GMT

Report 2007
As I'd last been in Almaty in Jan 1999, I did contact Duncan for an update.

I did not find the pollution bad in any obvious sense but I was only there 10 days and maybe my system can take it. I found walking about very safe and secure, though on the street I found few speakers of English.

Internet access is pretty slow and internet cafes not as numerous as you might expect. There is one on Jiebek Joly near the Silk Road Shopping Mall and one called the Stalker 100m at the corner of Dostik and, I think Tole Bi, 100m on the ToleBi arm, south side.

Travel tips and comments
Buses, trams and tolleybus are cheap - 40 tenge (c17p) for any journey. When friends get you a taxi and negotiate the fare it's probably worth taking - 200 - 4-500 Tenge will get you short and long journeys. A 05.00 taxi from the centre (Abaiya/Dostik) to the airport cost 2,000 T - c£8 but as they were friends I figured that was ok. To avoid having to take a taxi from the airport and if you're time rich and cash poor, you can walk the one major road out from the terminal, keeping to the right, until you get to the 32 bus stop. It's around 500 metres so is quite feasible with decent wheels and/or a rucksac. The 32 goes to Jandosov/Pravda, the south-west of town (opposite from the airport) so with one change you can cover, effectively, the whole city by public transport.

Airport
Do NOT give yourself less than 2 hours at the airport for check-in as the passport queue takes its time. And beware of buying duty free drink as it does not pass current EU secuity rules. My booze got tipped down the drain when I changed planes at Schiphol. I might be ok on a direct flight.
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Postby Kay » Sun 22 Apr 2007 07:44 GMT

Great posting, Simon. Thanks for taking the time to give us an update.
Not Delia - Foodie blog with lots of reviews and recipes.
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