Post Post-Long-Term-Backpacking-Depression Came Kazakhstan

After I finished my so-called ‘long term’ backpacking trip in South America (I met someone who had been backpacking for 20 years in Peru so my trip was really nothing), I suffered from post long term backpacking depression. I’d stay at home, sit on my sofa and start to cry because I missed it so much. So, after the funeral, I started to plan another trip. This time, a short one. I decided to go to Kazakhstan. I decided to go there for just one reason – the name of the country sounded interesting. 😀

While I was travelling in Chile, a guy from Hong Kong contacted me and asked me if he could tag along. I thought to myself, ‘there is no harm’ so I said ok. But my trip in South America was cut short, I asked him if he’d like to join me to Kazakhstan instead. That was a big mistake. Oh, he was actually the guy who joined me to Czech Republic. But I was with my other friend so the problem wasn’t that obvious. This time, it was just me and this guy, all the problems just surfaced. I won’t backpack with anyone who has no backpacking experience anymore. I learnt it the hard way.

Kazakhstan didn’t give me a good impression when I first arrived. The taxi drivers at the airport were very rude and aggressive. It was very late at night or too early in the morning when I (we) arrived. We were forced to take a taxi but when we were about to reach the motel / hostel, the taxi driver asked for more money. When we rejected, he continued to drive. The only way was to pay him more or jumped out of the taxi. We chose the first option. I later learnt that scams like this were very common. I wonder if there is Uber there now.

We checked in at 4am. There was no free WiFi there but it was ok because it was for one night or a few hours only. The Hong Kong guy was so pampered. He thought he was on a tour and I was a tour guide but at the same time, he wanted to take control of the ‘itinerary’ based on Lonely Planet which I recommended before the trip (that’s right. He hadn’t even heard of Lonely Planet. That’s why I said I made a big mistake).

I connected with my couchsurfing friend and we decided to meet up in the afternoon.

Central mosque
Oh no! I hadn’t got a scarf so I couldn’t get in.
I could only take pictures outside the mosque.
In a street in Almaty
My couchsurfing friend took us to Panfilov Park.
We went inside Zenkov Cathedral. Grand!
The church was so beautiful!
Beautiful church
Panfilov Park

I asked her about her travel experience. Before she started talking about it, she smiled sweetly as if she was talking about her fiancee. It was such a typical smile on any backpacker’s face. I have that smile too when I am asked about my travel experience. She also suffered from post long term backpacking depression. She wanted to stay at home all the time. For me, I wanted to go out and do something. One thing she suggested we should do was to visit every metro station. First of all, it was new. Secondly, there were only a few stations because it was new and last of all, they were all uniquely designed. Yes! A new addition to my itinerary.

We met up with another couchsurfing friend and his couchsurfing guests later that night. We had a great time drinking at a bar. I was happy to see all these like-minded people. I didn’t drink much but I really enjoyed the conversations. I was glad to know that I wasn’t the only one who suffered from post long term backpacking depression.

P.S. I was quite surprised that the waiters whisked the dishes away from the table immediately after I finished the food. One of the couchsurfing girls said it was very Russian.

We booked a tour to Charyn Canyon and Kolsay Lake at the information centre.

As a female traveller, I tend to see quite a lot of ‘discrimination’. When I was by myself, it was ok. But once I was with a male, it was very obvious. People, including the staff at the information centre like here, talked to the guy instead even when I was the one who asked the questions (and apparently, I am a more experienced traveller. One can easily tell by the questions I ask). It was really annoying. I had actually encountered that in other countries, even in Deutschland in 2002 (I hope things get better there now. Back then, I was travelling with a guy who didn’t know Deutsch but the Germans spoke to him assuming that he could speak the language just because he was a Caucasian) and in some Asian countries. I don’t actually have that ‘gender’ thing (or race, ethnicity, religions, etc.) in mind but I get reminded most of the time, not all, that I am female or I have black hair. Aren’t we all the same? Aren’t we all humans? I am an earthling.

Anyway, today, because my so-called travel companion woke up late and spent too long on packing his stuff after he woke up, in the end, we only had enough time to switch to another hostel, booked the tours at the information centre and visit the metro stations. I was too nice. In retrospect, I should have just left him there.

Metro station – a mosaic
Another metro station
My couchsurfing friend said he was a good leader.
Another metro station
Another metro station
This mosaic was beautiful!
The entrance / exit of one of the metro stations

25 – 26 March 2013

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