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Astana Return After Third Bout Of Central Asia Travels

After traveling around Central Asia for the past six weeks I’m back in Astana.

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I’m back in Astana. Again. In the coldest capital city in the world in the winter. Again. After six weeks of traveling around Central Asia I’m back to where I started. I believe this will soon end my third bout of travel in this region. However, the forth should be coming in less than a month.

It’s Astana. It’s winter, but the sun is shining. It’s possible to exist outside. ‎Today was actually the first time in all my visits to this city that I was able to walk around and take pictures somewhat comfortably.

I have to admit that this break in the frigid cold did ease the impact from renting an apartment from some kind of conman and canceling the deal, slipping on the ice and injuring my wrist, and ‎staying in a hotel that tried to slap me with a surprise $25 charge for trying to swim in their freezing cold, dirty pool. Needless to say, I didn’t pay it.

Otherwise, I like Astana, although besides my work — which is always incredibly active here — I’ve never really found anything to do. Well, besides walk around marveling at the odd, post-Soviet architecture.

With my free time I usually just sit in the Starbucks inside the tent mall drinking giant cups of coffee or drink beer at some random restaurant all alone.

Where Almaty nights are full of chaos and smiles, fun and friends, Astana nights are like a stone faced ‎glare. There are lights shining everywhere, but not many places seem too inviting. It’s not bad…just never really found much of anything. In Almaty there’s music . . . You can’t compare these two cities. They exist in the same country but they’re on opposite poles from each other.

I’m meeting with a young guy I met in the street yesterday who is working on an exhibit for the expo in around fifteen minutes at 8:30pm, so maybe my take on nightlife in Astana will soon change.

Right now, I’m spending way too much money at Del Papa restaurant. I come in here because it looks so warm inside, and end up drinking too many beers because I don’t want to go back out in the cold.

Today I was interviewed by the Astana Times and Kazakh TV. I’m looking forward to the Astana Times story — the journalist did interviews like I do them. Just hang out, drink coffee, and talk about shit.


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Filed under: Kazakhstan, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3719 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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