By Christina “ICON” Shin, Staff Writer
Summer is here, and traveling has begun for many of our sisters (as shown through the social media hashtag #DPhilTravels). And many of the destinations have been in Asia, from Vietnam to South Korea. Asia is home to more than half of the earth’s population, which means an infinite number of things to explore. For the next few months, we will be featuring an Asian country, picked randomly as shown in the video. June features Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth biggest country by size.
- The number one place to visit is the city of Almaty. Almaty is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, like the Zailiysky Alatau, while the center is abundant with suburban apartments, Western-style coffee lounges, luxurious restaurants, ski resorts, flashy shopping malls and even some of the biggest nightclubs, like Da Freak.
- Visiting Kazakhstan cannot be counted if you haven’t tried the main meat dish, besbarmak. Besbarmak is cooked with boiled meat, which can be horse, lamb, beef and/or camel meat, an onion sauce and flat, rectangular noodles
- The opposite of the snowy mountains of Zailiysky is Lake Balkhash. It is one of the largest lakes in Asia and 15th largest lake in the world. Lake Balkhash is known for its unusual two distinct parts divided by a strait. The western part is freshwater, while the eastern half is saline. Unfortunately, the lake is shrinking like the Aral Sea because of the diversion of water from the rivers that feed it so make sure you visit before it disappears.
- For architecture, visit Astana. Astana is an interesting city because only 19 years ago, nothing was there. Now, the city is one of the largest cities of Kazakhstan and one of the youngest capital cities of the world. In 1997, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev moved the capital from Almaty to Astana (formerly known as Akmola).
- The top two places you should see is Khan Shatyr and Baiterek. Khan Shatyr, designed by Architect Norman Foster, is a huge tent with a shopping mall inside. Baiterek is the main symbol of the city located in the center, representing the legend of the Tree of Life on the bank of the World River where the egg symbolizes the Sun, granting life and hope and below it, Aydakhar, a dragon hiding among the roots and wishing to eat the egg.
- May thru September has the best weather, but November thru April is best for skiers.
- Prices are usually quoted in the national currency, tenge (T), but occasionally U.S. dollars or euros.
- There may be a surcharge for using credit cards. Visa or MasterCard are preferred.
- Always have your passport with you. Police may ask to see it at any time.
- By Ken and Nyetta (Central Downtown Astana, Kazakhstan) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- By Michael Grau (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons