Exploring Shymkent

We have attempted to see three different Museums of Victims of Political Repression and failed all three times. The first was only open on weekends even though nothing about that was posted anywhere, the second was closed for renovations, and today, the third was closed because public buildings are all put on lockdown for covid quarantine for two weeks. That’s good. I respect the safety measures but you’d think the receptionist at the hotel would have told us the museums are all closed when we told them we were going out to see the museums today. We only found out because one of the doors was open. all the lights were out but the door was open, wo we walked in anyway and yelled helllloooo!!!!! Someone that spoke English came out and spoke to us. He explained all public buildings are closed for two weeks. And so, we spend the day exploring the public parks.

We went to Abay park. Abay was a famous Kazakh poet, composer, and philosopher and you see his name all over the country. I guess it’s kind of like MLK Jr avenue. I’m not comparing Abai to MLK Jr, that’s not what I mean, I’m only saying you know how seemingly every city in the US has an MLK street or an MLK memorial park? Well every city in Kazakhstan has an Abai street and/or an Abay/Abai street or memorial park. They’re everywhere.

The one in Shymkent is used as a memorial park. World War One, World War Two, the Afghan War, they have a memorial to firefighters and other rescue workers, they have a memorial to an ancient medicine man. The Afghan War memorial really hit me. I guess it was because of what’s happening there right now. As an American and knowing it was us that armed the Taliban, I’m just so embarrassed. We created them. We gave them their weapons and we trained them to help them fight against the Russians in the war this memorial I’m looking at is to commemorate and now what? We created a monster.

We also walked through this park on a university campus with student art displayed and a large tulip water fountain at the end.

Then we found a giant Lenin.

The three of us had Samarkand style plov and Coca-Cola for lunch and the total was $4 USD. The plov was better than the plov we had at the fancy, high end place in Tashkent two nights ago. I’m still disappointed in that place.

I’m back at the hotel now and planning to go to sleep early. We’ll wake up and drive to Turkistan in the morning. Not Turkmenistan, the country, but Turkistan, the city in Kazakhstan.