We’re just west of the point where the Old Silk road exits from China into Kazakhstan, on its way to Samarkand. We arrived after almost 24 of travel, on an old United 747, and a Lufthanza 330 Airbus. The recent movie selection (Hunger Games, Hateful Eight, Joy, Creed) was helpful, and so was the five hours sleep we got this morning before breakfast in the Kazhol hotel.
The town we are in (Almaty) was the site of the formal end of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the birth of the Commonwealth of the Independent (five) States. Founded in 1854, it was Verny, then Almatu, it was devastated by earthquakes in 1887 and 1911. In 1927, it became the capital of Kazakhstan, and saw an immigration of Russian from the west fleeing Hitler, and an importation of resettled Koreans from the east. In 1998, the capital was moved north to Astana, and Almaty has become the place to be for sophisticated suburbanites seeking a central transportation and business hub, with parks, museums, and shops. We’ll be here for two days, and then head south to Kyrgyzstan.