Thursday, 13 October 2011

Kazakhstan - The first chak chak

September 19-25

Hello everyone!

It’s been one month since I packed my bags and flew into the abyss that we thought was Kazakhstan. Turns out that Kazakhstan is actually an incredible country that has so much to offer. We celebrated the conclusion of our first 30 days by visiting the house of the British Ambassador for some wine and conversation. Mostly wine. Good fun, and a good view of the fountains near to the Bayterek.

Speaking of hosting people in houses, I decided to celebrate signing the contract for our new house in the best possible style…by having a house party in my soon-to-be old flat. It was very enjoyable to relax and unwind in the comfort of a home, especially as the temperatures outside dropped below zero for the first time.

On that same day we had began to move boxes into our new apartment. It is massive with a wonderful view and spacious rooms all around. We celebrated this with pizza from the Italian café – with possibly the best pizza in Astana – and by trying out the channels on our new flatscreen TV. We came across a channel called Musika, showing the music dominating the Russian charts. One of them was a song called Pofig by In Yan. Watch the video (the link is It is hilarious. Domestic violence obviously goes down quite well here.

School has been going wonderfully well. I have the most enthusiastic, eager, personable children in my class. 6MS are a privilege to teach. Some of them are fluent in English. Some of them can just about say hello. All of them are fantastic. There are a few issues with the school – walking into my room one morning to find a light dangling from the ceiling being one example – but I cannot have found a better class to teach.

As we are a British school, we follow traditions and ideas prevalent in British schools. One of these is the morning assembly. My Year 6 class have assemblies every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, in which we provide them with information and a moral to try and live by, both inside and outside of school. Teachers often get involved in these, and I am no exception.

This week had International Languages Day for Kazakhstan, and we decided to play Call My Bluff on stage in front of the children. It was great fun trying to persuade them all that ‘pencil’ in Swedish actually means ‘skirt’. I failed on that front. The other part of the assembly involved a video of people answering questions about Kazakhstan in a different international language. People seem to think I siarad Cymraeg, so I was involved. The video is at the bottom…

The Russian learning hasn’t been progressing as I would have hoped, mainly due to lack of time. I have learned some important words, though most of them can’t be written here! We learned some of the more choice Russian phrases when again failing in our attempts to have beshbarmak. We did at least have lots of chuk-chuk this time. This is a dessert of fried pasta covered in a sticky syrup, with raisins slotted into the middle. It reminds of a garibaldi biscuit, which is high praise indeed from a biscuit fiend like myself.

We’re one month in and I feel as if I am beginning to settle into a rhythm once more. We’re having such an incredible Astana adventure, and long may it continue.

Love you all


1 comment:

  1. I am interested in using your yurt photograph as part of a Photoshopped card that we will use as a school fundraiser. Our school is based in Almaty. Could I have your permission to use your yurt photo? Please drop me a line at