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Monday, September 29, 2014


Over the weekend, we made an overnight trip to Karaganda with one of our colleagues.  We had a great time, and we are so glad he suggested it

It took us about three hours by train to get to Karaganda, which is southeast of Astana.  Until Astana became the capital of Kazakhstan, Karaganda was the major city in this region of the country.  Interestingly, our colleague told us that Karaganda features in a Russian saying that refers to the middle of nowhere.  However, this is how the owners of the hotel where we stayed view it:

Look for the large, red letters here.
This was our first time on a train in Kazakhstan, and it was quite nice.  We had a compartment with two sets of narrow bunk beds and a table, so it was possible to nap comfortably or do work.  This picture isn't great, but it gives some idea:

Picture taken from the facing lower bunk

Karaganda had a much more established feel than Astana does.  Astana sometimes feels startlingly new, particularly with some of its more creative architecture.  One thing I particularly enjoyed was seeing more trees.  Some parts of Astana don't have very many trees, and a good number of the trees are pretty short.

Fall colors in Karaganda

We got in around dinner time on Saturday, so we strolled around the city a bit and went for some food. The next day, joined by our colleague's friend who was visiting and traveling around Kazakhstan, we visited the KarLag Museum in the nearby village of Dolinka.  This museum gives the history of the KarLag, a very large Stalin-era prison camp, that was situated in the region.  The museum was very informative, and even had some displays translated into English.  Our colleague speaks Russian and was able to fill a lot of the information gaps for us.  This is an era of history I know very little about, and I think this museum trip provided a good base of knowledge for me.  Photography was not allowed inside the museum, but I did take a picture of the building itself, which was the old KarLag hospital.

KarLag Museum

After visiting the KarLag Museum, we headed back to Karaganda, where we strolled around and got a bite to eat before our train back to Astana.  Here are a few more pictures of Karaganda itself:

I told my colleague's friend that my mom is from Alaska, so she pointed out this sign to me as we passed it.

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