Panfilov Park, Almaty

Say what you like about those Russians, they knew how to do a war memorial. There's several in Panfilov Park. The main one shows soldiers representing each of the former Soviet States bursting from a map of 'Mother' Russia. I like the one dedicated to the medics.

Green Bazaar, Almaty

The Green Bazaar in Almaty keeps alive the trading traditions of the Silk Road, it's by far the best food market I have ever seen. The cuisine of Kazakhstan may not be much to write home about, largely bland Soviet style stews and kebabs, but the quality of the ingredients are first class.

This huge covered bazaar is where you'll find everything from quail to horse and endless types of honey and spices. The Korean diaspora is in evidence selling traditional ready made salads.

There was a distinct male/female split in the market. Cheese, yogurt and vegetables were only sold by women and dried fruits were only sold by men.

I brought back bags of dried apples, honey, jam, saffron and boxes of dried wild mushrooms. Foody heaven.


Zenkov Cathedral, Almaty

Over a hundred years old, the Russian Orthodox Zenkov Cathedral sits in lemon splendor in Panfilov Park in downtown Almaty. Built entirely of wood with no nails, the only timber building in the world that stands taller is Gliwice Radio Tower in Poland.

I like how the light through the stained glass windows plays on the floor and the icons.

The altar is beautifully and richly detailed. The central doors are known as the Royal Doors they signify the gates of Jerusalem and only the clergy can pass through them.

I love the way that people drift into orthodox churches at all times of day. Young men on their way to work, babushkas going to market. There are no chairs in Russian Orthodox churches. Sometimes groups of women just stand and sing a hymn. Many people stand deep in devotion to a particular icon. A saint they feel can help or should be thanked. I feel very close to God in orthodox churches.