Today, after the morning interviews were over, our main task was to get to know the city, losing ourselves in its flavours and colours. We were dropped off at a National Museum of Musical Instruments, hosted in a delightful wooden building constructed in a traditional style with a green, sloping roof and intricate ornaments. Most of us went in, but I and one of our hosts, Assyl, took to the streets for a walk.
We ended up wandering around the district, with me taking photos of anything and everything to show back home, and Assyl being a delightful and patient guide. We rejoined the group after about an hour and made our way to a famous local venue and a site of one of the stories in the anthology, the Green Bazaar.
The bazaar is hosted in a large, single storey building and is buzzing with activity. We browsed its stalls for a while and some of us had more trouble than others trying to withstand the temptation to buy every single item on display. We tasted pickled vegetables, dried fruit and freshly squeezed juice, and bought pierozhki with potato and cheese filling, doughnuts and flat bread with chives. Everyone was friendly and we received lots of well wishing, particularly if we tried to say a few words in Russian (the second most spoken language in Kazakhstan). On our way back, we passed by a grand building that hosts the Kazakh Writers’ Union, nothing like we’ve seen in the UK.
The evening was shaping up to be an excellent mix of delicious food and entertainment, but I had felt the need to take some much needed respite and retired to my room early. I hear that belly dancing and Kazakh disco passed me by, but some quiet reading in my room restored me to my full strength, ready for the next day’s work.