Call Your Closest Clinic, Australia-Wide
Call Your Closest Clinic, Australia-Wide


by Leanne Rofet  - practice nurse of TMA member in Ipswich 

Kazakhstan is a country of approximately 16 million people; 70% ethnic Kazakh and 26% ethnic Russian, it shares its borders with Russia, China, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.The Kazakhs were originally a nomadic people who herded sheep and horses. Their tents are called Yurts, and there are many along the roadside. Some are used as a refreshment stop, and serve fermented horse milk. It’s not recommended to drink this beverage as it is highly alcoholic, and can be toxic. While we were there a traveller died from drinking fermented horse milk at a roadside Yurt. The inside of the Yurt is lined with tapestries, rugs and furs, there are usually small tables and stools to sit on.Drug addiction is a large problem in Kazakhstan, and heroin is easy and cheap to procure, as the Silk Road passes through Kazakhstan from AfghanistanMy husband and I travelled to Kazakhstan to work in Teen Challenge – a drug rehabilitation program – in Taldyqorghan. It’s about a 3 hour drive from Almaty – the capital city – near the Chinese border.

We were able to do some sightseeing in our free time. Our favorite place was a river nearby – clear water and very cold. Taldyqorghan is surrounded by the Steppes – flat, grazing land, but a half hour drive will take you into the mountains where there is snow almost all year round.The markets were amazing, usually open air with matting for the roof; grains, nuts, berries and dried fruits were laid out in stands. Bartering is expected and is always good natured. The ladies in the photo above worked in the meat market, and were happy to have their photos taken so they could be “celebrities” in Australia. There is very little refrigeration and the meat market is open air, slabs of meat hang on hooks around the walls, and whole heads of cows and horses lying on the ground. Buying meat for dinner was something we avoided but the local population doesn’t have an issue with it. We thought the price of meat was reasonably cheap but it is too expensive for most people, the main diet is soup. There are 2 social groups in Kazakhstan, the very rich and the very poor.
Many of the buildings are crumbling and poorly maintained, after Perestroika in 1986 thousands of ethnic Russians returned to Russia and the country collapsed. Kazakhstan welcomed anyone who could help in re-building the country. The population is now 70% Islam and 26% Christian.Most people live in small apartments, in rural areas water is pumped from community wells, so there are not a lot of showers or flushing toilets. Often there is a “Banya” – Russian version of a sauna – in a small hut out the back, and all the families in an apartment building will use this once or twice a week.
Along the roadside there are many quaint stalls selling a variety of delicacies – the photo above is a cheese stall – very smelly cheese tasting like blue vein – again no refrigeration.
Kazakhstan isn’t a tourist destination but definitely an interesting place to visit.