Posts tagged Netherlands

More skating in Astana, Kazakhstan

four countriesI suppose many people are watching the Winter Olympics in Korea, some amazing talent there!  Not sure who took this photo of four nations represented but we were skating on a frozen solid river in Astana, Kazakhstan.  On the left is a former Kazakh student, then Wilma from Netherlands, a guy from U.K. who liked to travel everywhere and me.  Seven years ago I was teaching and living in Astana, the coldest capital in the world, second to Ulan Baatar in Mongolia.  Yes, when the winds swept through the northern plains to Kazakhstan you wondered what the weather was like north of us, in Russia.

Didn’t matter the temp or the wind chill, an expat friend of mine from U.K. would cross country ski every day along the river in Astana.  I thought she might have been crazy or part Norwegian but this was her usual thing to do while her husband had some kind of government job.  Wonderful couple, I wonder where they are or if Wilma is back in Holland.  I keep up with most of my former students from NAU through FB.

I’m amazed that I had so many visitors to this blog yesterday, must have been something I wrote or the pictures I put up.  I used to have over a 100 a day when I was actually living in Kazakhstan and talking about the culture and people.  Now I just put up occasional pictures of my life back in Minnesota.  The following is something I see a LOT of on our northern plains.

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Life may be cold here, as it is in Astana, but the hearts are warm and we have memories to go on.  I doubt that I’ll ever get back to Central Asia after having lived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for 1 1/2 years and Almaty and Astana, Kazakhstan for 2 1/2 years, over four years.

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Skating in Astana

Seven years ago I was crazy enough to go skating on the small river that weaves through Astana. It was very frozen…no worries there of falling through.  Probably it had been frozen sinc November and would not melt until the following April or May.  Anyway, it was fun to skate with a woman from Holland and with a former Kazakh student of mine.  I’m not sure where I got the ice skates, probably from another ex-pat who had left them behind.

Skating in Astana

There had been some winter activity in Astana where Bota, as a volunteer, had an actual uniform and name tag for one of the ice arenas.  She skated fairly well, my friend from the Netherlands was a good skater and the ice was smooth enough to go backwards or forwards.  I have not skated since seven years ago when this picture was taken.

I understand that Astana has recently had some incredibly cold temps and high winds, I hear from people who I know who live and teach at Nazarbayev University.  One American and another British guy are teachers at NU.  Also, not only have I heard about the cold weather in Astana but the very, very strong winds. I saw photos of how people were standing on the sidewalk and just pushed along by the wind or how dangerous it was for even cars to drive.

As for me, I’m in cold Minnesota and we just have to worry about negative temps and some strong winds with blowing snows but nothing as horrific as what Astana experiences. Here’s a photo of our country that is very flat looking outside our second story window.

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Another photo shows our winter when it is beautiful and pure white, when all is still.

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when all is still

 

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World Cup and Malaysian Airline

I suppose I am your typical American, I did not watch any of the World Cup. I’m not interested in soccer or “football” as it is called elsewhere. I haven’t even watched our own games of baseball so I guess I am not “INTO” sports. I think Germany was a good win for the World Cup, they probably worked hard and a great team effort. Someone wrote that the main objective is to keep kicking the ball towards the net, the more you do that, you wear down the goalie and the ball is apt to get into the net for a score.

Life is like that in a way. If you keep working towards your objective, you will little by little achieve your goal. If you are wandering around the field with no good plan or teamwork, you will have no success. I have been getting stronger and stronger where I weeded a flowerbed that was entangled with quack grass and lilies of the valley plants. The latter had taken over and was very intense as a root system, superficial but irksome nonetheless. My husband helped me free the ground up because it was too big of a task for me. Now I have impatience plants and begonias replacing the tall grass. What a marked improvement in my flower bed that has old bed posts on the top and bottom of it with railroad ties on the sides.

This morning I went after another area by our shop to put in holly hocks that I got from my mom. I found all sorts of metal pieces that had been thrown out perhaps 75 years ago. LONG nails and other ancient items that don’t decay with the soil. So, now I hope to have holly hocks growing, an old kind of flower.

That’s the thing, you have to keep fighting the weeds. If you give the weeds’ roots just an inch, it will go the full mile. Kind of like the northern neighbor to Ukraine. They want more land and are having a full out war over this. The Ukrainians want peace and do not want separatists or others that are known by another term in the eastern part of their country. It is like weeds, they need to be pulled out NOW otherwise, worse things will happen.

The commercial airliner that was just shot down with almost 300 people on board is an example of someone using their missile to take an aircraft out. The bodies are strewn throughout Ukraine over 7 miles, we know the impact happened in the air. Maybe it was a bomb on board coming from the Netherlands and its final destination was Malaysia. Not now, currently they will be pulling all the pieces together to find out what hit this plane that should not have been hit.

This is a world wide problem, this is not just some small incident. The World Cup was big, yes, but it seems that what is happening in Ukraine is much, much bigger and will start to affect us all.

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Being Proactive about Human Trafficking in Astana, Kazakhstan

73350_483556798352833_1587163499_nThe following is something I read on Facebook where I’m getting most of my news these days.  I’m busy working on a book so I am feeling isolated from the rest of the world. That’s why I thought I would share these photos because I am so encouraged by people DOING something. I’m glad that expats continue to be pro-active by raising awareness in Kazakhstan about Human Trafficking especially in Astana.

“On December 9, 2012 Center for human traffic victims Korgau-Astana supported by the Netherlands Embassy in Astana organized an event in the framework of the International Human Rights Day. The main purpose of the event was to raise general public’s awareness on human trafficking and spread the contact information for those who know about or can become potential victims. The event was organized in one of the busiest entertainment centers of Kazakh capital Khan Shatyr and gathered big attention from the general public and press.”

248771_483557958352717_798962127_n27267_483555995019580_1408194383_nMy Russian isn’t that good but I can read what was projected on the screen and understand that people are made to work as slaves against their will for the dollars generated: ladies, men and children.

THIS MUST STOP!  Awareness and knowing where to go to get help is part of the solution. How ironic that this show was staged to attract attention from shoppers in Khan Shatyr with dancers. It was only seen by the elite among those in Kazakhstan.  Unfortunately, the warning should be sounded loud and clear in the Central Asian countrysides where the vulnerable people are, desperate for a job.  They will believe any lie given to them about moving to the BIG CITY!

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Charity Bazaar Choir and More of “Where’s Walda?”

I have more photos of people, parties and gatherings I have attended in this last week, a busy one for sure!  Next week will be even busier but for now I want to show photos of our annual charity bazaar last Sunday.  That was a highlight for many of us because we didn’t know how we would do in sales, it all came together in the very end.  I had gotten about ten or twelve boxes of books from some American friends of ours who are leaving Kazakhstan for good. They are moving on to warmer climes. (that could be about anywhere compared to Astana (;-) Their welcome donation of books was a good jumpstart for what we did at the bazaar.

What fun to hear the Christmas music done by the choir. They sang in Latin, Kazakh, French, Ukrainian and other languagess. So many nationalities were represented at this bazaar. What was funny was to see a sign in Russian at the table for Netherlands. For just 100 tenge you could get a photo shot for simply standing next to a Dutch girl in costume.  I wonder how many takers bought in to that sweet deal?  Wilma? And, where’s Walda?

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Kazakh Economy: Bull or “Buddy Bear” Market?

I’m “Buddy Bear” back! Subscribers to my blog, did you miss me?  Well, I missed you too while I had my MacBook in the shop getting extra memory installed.  I went through 48 hours of withdrawal from my laptop but tried to get by on my old trusty Dell and my iPod Touch. That didn’t work so well because our Internet went out at home and was intermittent at work.  You may think this is a lot of “bull” but no, it is just another day where I will show off the Buddy Bear.  The one I am featuring first is from the Netherlands, I should have asked a Dutch person I know what they think the artist meant with the “X” eye and belly button?  Also I’m featuring a Buddy Bear from Afghanistan, which portrays a mother comforting a child who is crying with a backdrop of beautiful mountains.  I have many more photos I took of the Buddy Bears.  I suppose I could blog a whole month doing the Buddy Bears but I’ll have to stop at some point.  Enjoy them while you can, they look better in bear-person of course.  But go see them and then take a ride up the Baiterek to get a view of the city of Astana!

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