On Going Home (But Not to Mine)

One stop that we made in our Kazakhstan tour was Slava’s hometown. He hadn’t been home in around 7 years and so often told us about people and monuments that had changed in his time away.

Thursday, July 13

We woke up early in Astana to take the long drive to Karagundy. We arrived around 2 pm to Slava’s dad’s restaurant Dayako Foods. Apparently, Slava’s uncle also owns a branch in Uzbekistan. The restaurant was Korean and was very very good. I’d forgotten how much I missed Korean food. There is a significant Korean diaspora in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries and so the food there is delicious.

After, Slava’s dad and a friend drove us to his old Turkish boarding school. Slava attended this school from 7th to 12th grade. He said that much hadn’t changed, except for the decorations. We took a tour of the classrooms and dormitories and saw all of Slava’s awards hanging on the walls. The dorms housed 8-16 kids per room, which was much more than we were used to.

Next, we met with a bunch of current students who asked us about studying in the US and college. I do remember how stressful that time was but Slava did a good job inspiring the young students. When our conversation finished, it started to rain, so we all headed out to drop off our things at the apartment we rented and headed out to explore the city.

We walked through the local park and passed through the main city square. Parks in Kazakhstan in big cities are like mini amusement parks, complete with rides and stands. We rented out two paddle boats for an hour on the lake and also Joanne and Courtney tried the jungle gym.

Finally, we all walked to Dayako Foods again for Slava’s family reunion. His family had set up a long table that took up the majority of the restaurant, and we met aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents. After another delicious Kazakh meal, we headed back to sleep for our flight the next day.

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