i've found kazakh people very welcoming, warm and nice which surely makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. before my travel to Almaty i contacted some of my clients and was surprisingly pleased the way they cared about my comfort and wellbeing-they suggested not to forget warm clothes if i'm ever planning to go to Chimbulak, organized entertainment, lunches at best restaurants so that i could try national cuisine..once after a meeting they even gave to me a big packet with best kazakh peers..all was very touching and i'm still so grateful..
According to the CIA world factbook, 64% of the population speak Kazakh, 95% speak Russian (2001 est.), but it seems to me that even less people speak Kazakh, at least fluently. Anyway, if you use a Russian phrase-book, you are much more likely to be understood than if you use Kazakh.
Chances of meeting an English speaking person in most stores/restaurants and in transport are pretty low. If you need one, there are more English speakers among young people, because the idea of learning English at high school is much stronger last years.
By the way, do you need a proffessional Russian-as-a-foreign-language instructor with over 20 years of experience in Alma-Ata? I know a good one - email me :)))
Don't believe me if you choose, but if you buy VITA brand bottled water then you are showing support for the current corrupt president, since this company has close ties with the pres. Ask around - it's what I was told while I was rehydrating, thinking I was doing no harm.
Men (especially Kazakhs) would often shake your hand with their both. Unlike other countries, in Kazakhstan this is just a gesture of sympathy and friendship, not servility. A normal response is doing the same. However, in business communication a traditional single-handed shaking is usually more applicable.
A jewel of the 28 Panfilov Heroes’ Park is the Svyato-Voznesensky Cathedral. Another wooden creation of Zenkov, it is said to be built in 1904-1907 without a single nail . The building has survived the notorious 1911 earthquake graded 10 points under the Richter scale and all subsequent earthquakes.
Despite the long period that the Cathedral was not functional (1927-1995), it has kept its splendor and spirit. The Cathedral resumed daily services in 1996 after it had been returned to the Russian Orthodox Church.
At a short distance from the Green Bazaar, the biggest mosque in Kazakhstan is located. It was built with public donations and consecrated on 5 July 1999. The mosque replaced an old one that had been functioning since 1890 and finally was not able to hold all the believers. The new building’s size and beauty (white marble walls decorated with glazed tiles contrasting with a blue 20m x 36 m dome) make it unrivalled among other Almaty mosques.
A muezzin praying from the minaret, a mandatory attribute of every mosque is heard from afar.
Leon Trotsky was sent into exile at Alma Ata with his wife and a son, Lyova, in winter 1928. Read his magnificient autobio 'My Life' for a first-person account of history. Regards from a friend named Roger.
Aport apples are pride and joy of the city. These are the huge apples growing just in this region. They are very tasty and have great flavour. The cases of an apple being as heavy as 1 kg were not rare.
When in Alma-Ata, it is worth looking for them - though there are few chances you might be lucky. Unfortunately, these apples are becoming more and more rare.