While driving from London to Mongolia for the Mongol Rally, Kazakhstan was on our planned route. But one thing that wasn’t planned was Astana – the capital city of of Kazakhstan was a complete unknown to me.
We detoured here thanks to the horrible Kazakhstan roads, which seemed to devour our little car and cause us to fall behind schedule. As we pulled into Astana we were shocked and baffled by this ultra modern city with high rises and architecture that rivaled cities like Hong Kong and Valencia. The parks were planned out beautifully with landscaping, with sky scrapers surrounding it’s perimeter. Locals were out strolling along the parks taking photos, shopping, dancing – just like any big city. But wait a minute -just moments ago we were surrounded by camels and desert!
As we stared in amazement at the urban planning, of course the locals stared at us since we seemed to be one of about 100 tourists that I think actually come visit Astana each year. A local man in the mall actually stopped us and said he had only seen people like us on TV and never in person. It was as if we had discovered the Emerald City of Oz. This emerald city came complete with a picture perfect sunset that lit up the whole urban park in a soft golden glow. As the sun went down I wandered around with my camera wondering how such a city could go so unnoticed by the world?
Sherry Ott is a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler who enjoys the off-the-beaten-path destinations. She brings you unique travel experiences, photography and also life experiences of a middle age wanderer on her site on OttsWorld. You can also follow her on twitter @ottsworld