The Wandering Scot

An occasional travel journal.

Browsing Posts tagged Kazakhstan

I’ve been visiting the old Soviet nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk, aka “the Polygon”. The site isn’t actually as bad as its rather dire historic reputation – the last 25 years have seen a lot of clean up and containment. The worst areas have either been scraped off and buried, or are fenced off. To […]

Semey: A Bronze Titan

I’m in Semey, Kazakhstan. The Lonely Planet guide mentions that a backstreet park houses relocated statues of Lenin.  I found the park and saw several small Lenins lurking among the trees.  But where was the promised “large statue” that once stood in the main square? Then I looked up, and there he was. At somewhat […]

Yesterday, upon the steppes, I saw a sea which wasn’t there… The Aral Sea ship graveyard near Zhalanash used to host a dozen beached fishing trawlers. They had fled from the port of Aralsk as the sea dried up, but then, with nowhere else to flee, had been abandoned at Zhalanash. Most of the ships […]

Baikonur: Soyuz TMA-20 Launch

I was at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to watch the Soyuz TMA-20 launch.  It was spectacular.  I strongly recommend it.  (Tour Logistics.)  (More Baikonur photos.) I found myself in a tour group of six: our guide told us we were all the tourists visiting the launch. There were also some press, and various Roscosmos/ESA/NASA […]

Astana's Cosmonauts

Astana takes pride in being Kazakhstan’s visionary new capital. But in the older parts of town there are also many traces of the Soviet past. My favorite of these is a fine Soviet era mosaic outside the train station, showing a spectacled engineer and a waving cosmonaut.  A nice reminder of Kazakstan’s broader role in […]

Astana is Kazakhstan’s new post-Soviet capital, in the Northern steppes.  The faces on the streets seem mostly Central Asian, so it seems to have succeeded in attracting a large ethnic Kazakh population into what was formerly an ethnic-Russian part of the country.  That may not have been President Nazarbayev’s sole goal, but it has certainly […]