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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Taking Buses and Shopping in Town

On Sunday, a very kind colleague who is originally from Russia invited me and Scott to check out some of the shopping around town with her.  It was great--we went to two malls and a bazaar.  Plus, we took our first buses that weren't provided by the university.  Here, the drivers just drive--they don't take money or give out tickets.  When you get on the bus, you sit down (or go find something to hold on to), and someone comes around to collect your money and give you a ticket.  That person can even give back change, at least to a certain point.

I didn't take too many pictures because I was afraid the locals might think I was strange (I say that as if that's the only reason the locals might think I'm strange--ha!), but I will post a few at the end.

We headed out first in the direction of Artyum Bazaar, in the old part of Astana.  The bus ride there was longish and hot, so instead of going to the bazaar first, we went inside a small mall to cool off, eat ice cream, and see what sorts of stores they had.  It was a nice mall, complete with a supermarket.  Probably because of its proximity to the bazaar, it was surrounded by booths, including booths with really delicious smelling food!  I'll probably try my luck eating there at some point, but that sort of food might not be the best thing to have at the beginning of my stay here.

After that, we crossed the street to Artyum Bazaar, which is an indoor, multi-floor bazaar.  The first floor had mostly fruits and vegetables.  I'll have to go back and buy more because they mostly looked much better than what I've seen in the supermarkets.

I don't remember if we saw every floor or not, but at least some of the upper floors had mostly housewares.  The upper floors were very well organized, with each store being assigned a number and signs pointing visitors in the direction of different number blocks.  A major victory there was getting a second key made for our apartment.  Even though there are two of us, our apartment management gave us only one key to share, and told us to get a second one made somewhere.  Our colleague translated the transaction for us, and now we don't have to share a key anymore!

Another useful thing we got there was a dish drainer rack.  Our kitchen has a set up I've never seen before anywhere else--a small sink next to an elevated, flat surface with a drain.  I had hoped that we might not need a separate dish drainer rack, but we really did--we had been stacking the dishes on top of each other on that flat surface, and they weren't getting dry.

After the bazaar, we went to a local mall called Kerouen (spelling here is pretty approximate).  It was fancier than the first mall we went to.  It even had some American brand stores, like Reebok.  Our main purpose in going there was to try out a French cafe in the food court.  It was very good--we bought three pastries to split and some coffee and tea.  The food court also had a Turkish restaurant, an Indian restaurant, at least one Japanese restaurant, and a KFC (which I have no interest in trying!).  The bottom floor of this mall had a very nice grocery and housewares store--I even found a specialty coat hanger for organizing scarves.  I had been regretting not bringing the one I was using in the US--it probably sounds silly, but I've found it very useful.

It was a fun and useful afternoon.  Maybe Scott and I will feel more comfortable taking the buses by ourselves when we feel like exploring more.

First floor of Artyum Bazaar

On one of the upper floors of Artyum Bazaar

Food court in Kerouen Mall

Bayterekh Tower, as seen near Kerouen Mall

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