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Kazakhstan Visas and Letters of Invitation (LOI)

On the surface, a Kazakhstan tourist visa should have been our easiest visa to obtain when we first visited the country. Kazakhstan is arguably the most developed of the former Soviet countries. But the bureaucratic machine still runs strong at the Kazakh Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and in Kazakhstan itself.

Fortunately, Kazakhstan visa requirements have eased and become more simplified since our first visit. But if you're curious as to how it used to be, read our Kazakh visa and OVIR registration war stories.

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Big Almaty Lake and Kosmostancia: The Hike and The Observatory

Big Almaty Lake in Tian Shan Mountains - Almaty, Kazakhstan
Big Almaty Lake in the Tian Shan Mountains near Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Sometimes we seek beauty and sometimes we find it. Sometimes we seek a thrill and it finds us, giving us more than we had bargained for. Along our journey into the Tian Shan Mountains in Kazakhstan, we encountered pieces of history, stunning landscape, a draining hike, and the softer side of Almaty. The only thing missing: a map.

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Kazakhstan’s Postal Police

You know you are in trouble when the only people in the place who smile at you are the missionaries.

A trip to the post office in each country we visit is pretty standard for us. We dread it because of the time it usually eats up, but we always find ourselves making the journey in order to mail backup DVDs of our photos or an occasional postcard. From a cultural anthropological point of view, however, a trip to the post office affords us another slice of real life and provides a window into how a country actually works (or doesn’t).

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O Brothel, Where Art Thou?

“This is a hotel, right?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have rooms?”

“Yes. How long would you like the room?”

“For one night.”

“The whole night? You mean until morning?” It was 11:00 P.M. The woman at the desk seemed surprised by Audrey’s response.

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Battle at the Border

kazakhstan battle

Have you ever watched the news and witnessed escaping refugees at a border crossing, crushed against iron bars like animals in a cage? You know the scene. Now superimpose two backpack-laden white faces onto that newsreel, throw in a few cries of “Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan” amongst the shrieks of old women and children being squashed in a sea of madness, and you would just begin to understand what we went through at the Uzbek-Kazakh border yesterday.

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