Today we had some free time, and we didn’t want to spend all day around the house.
As Jake and I looked at each other, though, we couldn’t think of anything we wanted to do.
A little tired of fast food and parks (the weather looked like possible snow) we finally decided to do something we’d always wanted to do: Head to the bazaar and see the animals for sale.
Weird, I know. But when you’ve got nothing else on the docket, it started to sound more and more fun.
First things first was finding directions.
When a few Internet searches for “Animal bazaar Almaty” yielded nothing, I got out the maps. Still nothing. A former student had said just head south on a main road we knew of (Seifullina) and so that’s what we did.
After about a 40 minute drive we still hadn’t seen anything but some auto dealerships and a sign for a drive thru KFC (that’s right, a drive thru KFC) and so we decided to stop for sustenance. So much for being tired of fast food.
We decided to ask the drive thru guy if he knew where we could see any animal bazaars, and he recommended Altyn Orda (which I learned means Golden Horde, one of the three Kazakh clans). We knew where that was, and after a quick meal, headed off in that direction.
Only problem is Sunday is bazaar day and today was freezing rain, and this particular bazaar is on the only road headed out of town. We spent a couple hours in traffic, the kind of traffic where you feel like you are moments away from a fender bender every couple minutes. I’ve included a photo of a less-bad part so you can get a feel for it:
There were two incidents:
First is we got pulled over by a police officer. Problem was Jake forgot all the car documents in his bag because yesterday we was trying to get the car registered and forgot to put that back in the car. Thankfully the police officer just asked if we had all our documents (which we do, he didn’t ask if they were with us), and looked at the three kids and let us go. Yes! God answers prayer!
Second a guy pulled a little too close and hit the side view mirror. Second time that’s happened, but no harm done.
After a long, long, long time we finally arrived. When we drove in the bazaar sprawled in a few directions and we quickly realized it would be a miracle if we ever found the animals.
We parked, got out of the car and started walking. Almost immediately we found them, and we knew God had answered our prayers of desperation when we were stuck in traffic (yes, we prayed about it — especially me, since it was my crazy idea in the first place).
The salesmen were cool about us looking and taking photos, which was kind. One guy even spoke a little English and introduced himself to the kids.
We hit traffic again on the way back, but all in all it was great to get out of our comfort zone and do something that we could only do in Central Asia.
Here are the rest of the photos for enjoyment: