DATE 3 OCTOBER 2017
I sure am taking a long time to complete this series, The Silk Road Route. Hope to catch up soon. Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand and Shahrisabz coming along. For the time being, we are still in Almaty……..
We drove to Medeu on a clear and cool morning the next day. It was all quiet at the speed skating ring in Medeu. Our plan was to ride the cable car to Shymbulak, the ski resort. The cable car service was not operating and instead a regular bus service (600 Tenge for 2 persons, one way) will do the job. Cars, however are not allowed to drive up to Shymbulak.
The 15 minute drive provided us with a scenery similar to the one we saw yesterday on the way to Big Almaty Lake. A thin layer of snow splattered on the slopes with the green junipers offering a stark contrast. The road here is wider, but the hairpin bends are just as sharp as the ones yesterday.
The snow hardly covered the ground, and thus all skiing activities were suspended. The cafes were about to open, however the chalets surrounding the area seems unoccupied. Apart from the cable service which would take visitors to the peak, there was the chair lift going about halfway. We walked up the road to view the panoramic scenery and also to enjoy the fresh mountain air. Several people were seen going further up the road. They were heading for the trail up the slopes.
We spent about an hour at Shymbulak. When we returned to Medeu, where our rented car was parked, we saw the police stopping and then questioning the driver of another car. Nik and myself hurried to our car and drove off. We would like to avoid another encounter with the local police. As soon as we reached the city, Nik drove to Intercontinental Hotel to return the car. The Avis staff was not expecting us until later in the evening (7 pm).
SIGHT SEEING THE CITY
In the afternoon we took the metro from Abay, the nearest station to our hotel. Getting off at Zhibek Zholy we walked to Panfilov Street, the pedestrian street. A metro ride costs 80 tenge. A short distance later we came to a pedestrian area on Zhibek Zholy Street which is similar to Arbat Street in Moscow. Here, artists exhibit and sell their paintings and artwork.
The Green Bazaar was our next stop. It was a long walk and my legs and body were pretty tired. This bazaar is made up of small shops selling mainly cheap clothes. I was hoping to buy souvenirs, but did not find any suitable ones. We continued walking on overworked feet. A short while later we reached the Almaty Central Mosque. This mosque with a golden dome and four minarets is the biggest in Kazakhstan. Built in the Timurid architecture, it is decorated with Turkish calligraphy.
More walking to find our way back to the hotel. By this time it was nearly dusk. Nik contemplated between hopping onto the bus or going on the metro. In the end, we went underground to take the metro. Just like the metro stations in Moscow, the ones in Almaty have interesting artworks on the wall.