Archive for July 24, 2010

Photos and an American economist’s perspective on Astana

The following photos and text are to my husband’s credit.  He has a Ph.D. in economics from University of Wisconsin in Madison. Everything he sees, wherever he goes is from an economist’s point of view.  Much to speculate and know about when it comes to the city of Astana, a “new” city that keeps being built since ten years ago when it was “birthed” by the president of Kazakhstan.

The construction has to happen in this narrow window of time while the weather is good because it can get so bitterly cold in the winter.  And yet, the construction workers keep working year round no matter how cold.  (many of them are NOT Kazakh but from other nearby countries who need work, they aren’t paid that much or so I’m told).  Enjoy seeing Astana through an economist’s eyes:

Locals call the old town on right bank of the river, “Tselinograd” (Virgin Lands Town) and the Left Bank where the government is being reestablished as “Astana” (“Capital”)  People expect that at some point the capital’s name will be changed to the president’s name.  Astana and he share the same birthday, July 6.

The golden minaret building was built for something else and then the Ministry of Agriculture got it. It is on the corner of Auezova and Kenesary. The lighting was interesting as sun broke through the clouds.

One photo shows the Caterpillar heavy shovel, and the various other “yellow” pieces of equipment from China, Japan, South Korea. These are painted yellow, I think to take part of Cat’s brand.  Caterpillar is one of the great American industrial export companies.

Of course a lot is going on.  Streets are being repaved, but the main thing that might need explaining is the burying of those great big pipes that lay on the ground here. This is a very cold country, and those pipes are the distribution pipes from the TETS or electrical plants that cogenerate hot water that is pumped around the city to heat the buildings.

I understand that Scandanavia has this kind of communal heating.  If there were natural gas piped up here and distributed by small pipes to the apartments, there would be no need for this.  If they could go the electrical route. Kazakhstan has a lot of natural gas, but it is somewhere else.

These plants use coal, of which there is a lot here in Astana area, too. The fact that they heat with hot water that is generated from the electrical plants, means that the electrical plants, burning coal, have to be near the cities, or in the cities, which contributes to the air pollution. (to be continued)

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Photos of horses and “Mighty Horsemen” in Kazakhstan

I already have my Kazakhstan 2011 calendar which is already out in July of 2010!  Published by Eagilik Public Fund in Astana, Kazakhstan, you can find out more about the 12 photos they featured for each month.  (ask about how to get your own copy of it by emailing The front of this calendar has a horseman on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

The following information is taken from this calendar, I’m not sure who their source is, but I think it is Martin YK Lee who also took the photos for the calendar.

“Kazakhs have traditionally been, and still are, excellent horsemen.  It is said that in the past, Kazakh children learned to ride before they walked.  Historians believe that horses were first domesticated 5,500 years ago by the Botai people in Northern Kazakhstan.  Between the 6th and 2nd BC, the Sakas (believed to be one of the ancestors of the Kazakhs) inhabited the lands of today’s Central and South Asia.  The Sakas were outstanding horsemen, and were the first to master horseback archery while riding at full tilt.

Today horses are still an important part of Kazakh life.  Horses are used as working animals, especially in the countryside.  Fermented mare’s milk (koumiss) is a popular local drink, and is also believed to have medicinal properties.  Horse meat is a local delicacy, and is an ingredient in several national dishes.

Horses are also used for sport and entertainment.  One traditional sport is Kokpar, an intense game played on horseback in which two teams of players compete to carry a headless goat carcass into a goal.  Serious players train intensively for years, and playing well also requires specially trained horses that know to stop still when a rider is thrown or to gallop forcefully when their rides gets hold of the calf…”

These three photos were taken by me in different locations but the theme of horses runs strong here in Kazakhstan though you will not see them in the cities of Almaty or Astana.  That’s where cars are king of the road. The last photo is of a bride being chased down by the groom.

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