By Yukie Asagiri
NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (IDN) – Journalists from Asia and Europe who joined a weeklong cultural press tour of the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan in August broadly concurred that “this country has something to offer even to the well-travelled tourist”.
The week-long press tour was purported to showcase the rich culture and history of Kazakhstan as part of the project “Contemporary Culture of Kazakhstan in the Global World”. Participants came from Austria, Australia, China, South Korea, France, Japan, Switzerland, India, Italy, Germany, Poland, and Sweden.
I had the privilege to be one of them as a representative of INPS Japan, which is part of the International Press Syndicate group with IDN as its flagship.
Before arriving at the final destination Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan, we visited the cities of Almaty (former Kazakh capital), Shymkent and the Turkestan region.
During the tour, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the support of regional ‘akimats’ (governments), we got acquainted with the modern culture, art, history and tourist attractions of Kazakhstan.
In Almaty, the ‘southern capital’ of Kazakhstan, we visited a number of cultural and historical institutions, including the Kasteyev Museum of Art, where we got acquainted with the artistic culture of the country, the Qazaq Oner Center for Craftsmen, where we admired traditional Kazakh musical instruments and types of traditional Kazakh music, and also participated in a brief master class by artisans.
Photo: Yukie Asagiri at the A. Kasteev State Museum of Arts in Almaty. It is the largest archive of decorative and graphic art works in Kazakhstan. It includes 23005 exhibits and is considered one of the best collections in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
A glimpse of Kok Tobe mountain, a visit to the high-mountain skating rink ‘Medeu’ and the mountain resort Shymbulak were fascinating. Equally fascinating was the visit to falcon cattery “Sunkar”, a unique nursery of rare endangered species of birds. During the spectacular show with freely flying predacious birds we were told about the traditions and history of falconry.
Also a trip to the Big Almaty Lake made a lasting impression so that some members of the group said they would love to return to Almaty with their friends and families. No less impressive was the trip to the Charyn Canyon.
In Shymkent and the Turkestan region, with the assistance of local akimats, we visited the ancient city of Otrar, the mausoleums of Arystanbab and UNESCO World Heritage site, Khoja Ahmed Yassavi, as well as other tourist sites in the region.
Arystan Bab mausoleum close to the village of Kogam and Otrartobe, located 70 km from the city of Turkistan, southern Kazakhstan, is a 14th century mausoleum built for Arystan Bab, who was a famous religious leader. According to the legend, Arystan-Bab was one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad.
In Nur-Sultan, we met with the Minister of Culture and Sports, Aktota Raimkulova, Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs, Defense and Security of the Mazhilis (lower house) of the bicameral Parliament, Mukhtar Yerman, and other members of the Mazhilis to learn more about the national policy to preserve the country’s rich cultural heritage, tourism development and the strengthening of international relations for the study of historical and archival data in other countries.
In the capital, we visited the “EXPO-2017” pavilion and the National Museum and went to a musical “Scarlet Sails” by the Karaganda Academic Musical Comedy Theater at the Astana Opera Theater. [IDN-InDepthNews – 24 August 2019]
Photo (top): A group of journalists from 12 countries. Credit: Kazakh Foreign Affairs Ministry.
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