Kazakhstan is located in Central Asia and is a previous Soviet Union state. It is literally the world’s 9th largest land mass (for a country) in the world. Just to give you an idea how big it is, the distance from one end of Kazakhstan to the other is the same as from London to Istanbul. This country has one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world and from Almaty, I can see the mountains surrounding the city.
The people are mainly Kazakhstanis and they speak their own Kazak language and Russian as well. My assignment was to conduct a public talk for a few companies and also a management retreat to Nurai Company, one of the largest travel agencies there.
It is simply amazing to witness how the people are resourceful in getting things done with whatever equipment they have. There was a time when the car I was in, could not be used further and someone offered to take us to the destination for a price.
Taxis are rare there, but you can just hop into anyone’s car provided if you are willing to pay for it.
The people there are pretty hungry to learn and very energetic in the way they speak. I was also amazed by the manager’s ability to sit down for many hours and share about their experiences of leadership. One of the trainings that I covered was on creating dynamic teams and a good work environment. It was really an eye opener for most of them because it was most of the managers realised that they did not have to be the best in everything but to create strong teams to help them through.
A display of strength is also important in that culture as well, it is interesting to note that whoever is the most domineering and aggressive tends to get their way first. I believe it might be because of the previous Soviet Union culture they were exposed to.
Kazakh food is generally very meaty and they love to eat meat! Vegetables are secondary and it was my first time eating horse meat and drinking Camal and horse milk. Both milk (shubat and kumys respectively) are really horrible to drink (although the men there totally disagree with me)! They taste very acidic and sour. I was commenting that it actually tasted like urine, but one of the managers asked me whether I tasted urine before? I told her that after this experience, I might just want to taste it just to compare the difference! (In case you were wondering, I didn’t drink urine after that).
Beshparmak (called “five fingers”, in the manner it is eaten) is a traditional Kazakh dish and it made of chunks of meat! I heard that they had sheep’s head cooked in some of the Beshparmak and is usually served to guests. I was pretty thankful that all I saw was just meat and no head!
My thoughts about Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is a place filled with many beautiful snow capped mountains and has an old rustic feeling of the 1980s. If you are game enough to try different types of meat, Kazakhstan is the place you will want to be!