We left our hotel and drove toward Turkistan, not to be confused with Turkmenistan. Turkistan is a city in Kazakhstan. Turkmenistan is a country. Driving down the road in western Kazakhstan you have to watch out for camels in the road.
We stopped at a mausoleum along the way. Am I terrible person that I can’t even remember who the dead person was? Some Muslim saint. Sorry, we’ve been to so many mausoleums by now. I was really excited by them at first… and now… well… they’re still cool to look at and I still like dead people but unless it’s a really famous dead person I just don’t pay that much attention to exactly which dead person it is. Does that make me a bad person?
Anyway, we went to the mausoleum of some Muslim saint and it was a bit annoying. Cool and all but annoying. Before leaving for our trip, I did SO MUCH research on Uzbekistan. I learned it was WAY more conservative than Kazakhstan. Plus, everyone in Almaty told me that. Everyone told me I’d be really uncomfortable there. They all told me everyone there was really conservative and I’d need to cover up. I was told I’d be told to cover my shoulders and over my hair and be careful and well… ya know… dress like a grandma all the time. Okay. That’s cool. Even though I’m a super progressive, way lefty, feminist woman, I can respect others’ cultures. My rule is when it’s simply this is how we do things here I’m okay with it. When it’s this is how we do things here or else we kill you… then naw… I’m not going to your country.
Why did I bother to say all that? I said it all because I never had anyone, EVER, say ANYTHING to me about my dress in Uzbekistan. I cover my shoulders. I cover my knees. I don’t dress like I’m going to the club. I mean… come on… look at my dress… And then, the very first place we stopped in Kazakhstan they freaked out and made the kid and I cover our hair hair. They also made some guy wrap a sari around his legs because he was wearing shorts. And everyone here in Kazakhstan had told me it was Uzbekistan that was the conservative place!!!!
There was a tourist police officer there that was overjoyed to meet an American family and really wanted a photo with us. I didn’t really care but just to make him happy I got a picture with him with my phone too.
We drove three and a half hours to find the ancient ruins of a village destroyed by Genghis Khan. Google Maps led us astray. Sometime Google Maps REALLY pisses me off because they won’t let me edit the map. When things like this happen to us and I try to edit the map and say the location is incorrect they always deny my edit. They send me a message saying “cannot be verified”. Oh yeah, Google? Who the fuck is gonna verify it? I’m sitting here in the middle of goddamned nowhere Kazakhstan telling you your map is wrong and you don’t believe me???? Ugh. I’ve written them about it.
So, we arrived in Turkistan and it’s a bit of a disappointment. If you were to believe Kazakh locals you’d think it’s the MUST SEE city of Kazakhstan. I guess it’s all in the what you want in a city. If Gatlingurg, or Dollywood, or Branson are what you want when you travel then hell yeah! Turkistan is your place! This is where you want to come to buy your Kazakhstan souvenirs, your balloons, get your caricature drawn, your spray-painted t-shirt, you can even pay to ride a gondola through the canal right through the center of a shopping center. They even have an Imax theater tyoe thing and a Medieval Times type show with horses. That just ain’t our thing. Not at all. Wanna know something funny? The whole time we were walking around they had these signs posted telling us no pictures allowed. Isn’t that funny? The whole place is clearly made for tourists and yet they have no pictures allowed signs posted. I guess I don’t follow rules very well.
Eventually we found the historic stuff. There’s not much. Everything We saw a Mausoleum where once again I was yelled at to cover up, by a woman, none the less. She reminded me of all the Trump supporting women in the US. It’s the women keeping us down. Then we went to see an underground mosque. I was excited about it, but my allergies didn’t like it so I had to leave almost as soon as I walked in. Then, way off in the distance we saw this other thing. What was that? Did we really want to walk over there? It was 41°C/106°F out and it was a good twenty/thirty-minute walk away. Alright. Fine. Let’s go.
Walking over there was totally worth it. I’m not so sure the kid thought so but Brandon and I sure did. It’s the ancient Turkistan city fortress and you could get right down in it and walk around inside the walls. It’s depressing. It’s clear hardly anyone ever goes out there. We couldn’t even use the stairs! They were covered with prickly bushes and we had to climb up the hill to gain access.
The hotel here sucks. It’s a bottom-line Hilton. Hampton to be exact but I feel like I’m back in China: look but don’t touch. Last night Brandon ordered a Shiraz and was served a sweet white wine, our bathroom door won’t open/close more than halfway, and earlier while I was trying to open the curtains, the entire curtain rod came crashing down from the wall. It’s actually so bad I’m going to complain to Expedia. May as well. We booked through them. I know they’ll give us a discount on our next place or maybe even a free next place. This place sucks. Everything looks pretty, but that’s it. The food sucks too.
Overall, my rating of Turkistan: 4/10.
There was one cool thing about the city. Their traffic lights had LEDs all the way up and down the polls that corresponded with the color of the light. This should be a thing everywhere.