Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Astana: A City Of Peace And Reconsiliation

When I saw the Palace of Peace And Reconciliation the first time, from a distance, dwarfed by skyscrapers and after standing next to Bayterek Tower and all the other high rise buildings in the center, I was slightly disappointed. It wasn´t as overwhelming as I expected. But once inside, I lost my disappointment. Once you step inside and fully understand the complications of building such a monument to peace and reconciliation in such a harsh climate that Astana offers and all the small intricate details, you realize you are witnessing a small wonder of our world.
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After breakfast at Red Village Hotel we immediately set off for the pyramid. It was a crisp but sunny day and since arrival we had been impressed by how the president through this modern development of Astana and by moving the capital here tried to distance himself from the past and at the same time offering a society which is open to all religions and cultures. And the 62 meter high pyramid is the symbol of his wish. And throughout our visit I have been very impressed by the low key involvement of a religions line, even if Kazakhstan´s majority are Muslims. It is very low key and I like it. And the idea with the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation is therefore brilliant.

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It is an amazing building from the inside. As everywhere else in Astana, you are not allowed to walk around for yourself, so you need a guide to take you around. And the one we had was really good and gave us enough time to ponder and think without being disturbed by either other impatient people or keeping a time schedule set by some local authority  of museum visits saying that each item are allocated 3.1 minute to see. We were told later it was her second day and the manager asked if she was good enough. The best we said. He looked like he didn´t believe us.

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To a certain degree, I found Astana a bit like the Singapore of Central Asia. Wide and clean streets, very little rubbish, orderly traffic and hurrying citizens. And it also shows the capacity of human beings to create something extra ordinary in just a few years. Just imagine, none of this was here 15 years ago and now Astana is one of the modern wonders of the World.
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We took the older and slow train back to Karaganda. Most of the way it was just loaded with people standing up fully dressed in the aisle. It seemed like everybody was heading for Karaganda. For me this was another sign of the lack of proper infrastructure, because the same applies to Karaganda, every time we take bus number 02 into town, it is overloaded with people. The kids slept most of the way back home, full of impressions from Astana. A must see. More than a day. At least 3-4 for a proper understanding.

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Thanks to Red Village Hotel and Raushan Mukhamejanova for making this journey a success!

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