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Photo Essay: An Empty and Endless Kazakhstan

It’s 20 degrees below zero, and our Lada doesn’t give a damn. Our driver and guide, Igor, has a picture of Mary and Jesus stuck to his dashboard, just above the steering wheel. Welcome to winter in Kazakhstan.

Winter wonderland: Equivalent to the size of Western Europe, Kazakhstan is unremittingly flat. It’s empty, endless, and mostly covered in snow.

 

The original caravan: While most Kazakhs have bid farewell to the nomadic life, some still live in  traditional yurts. Yurts is designed to be easy to assemble and disassemble quickly. They’re made from wood, covered with felt and secured by rope. The men make the wooden frames by hand, while the women create  embroidered coverings in traditional patterns.

Grand Canyon of the East: Close to the Chinese border is the Charyn canyon. Wind, water and sand have worn away the sandstone over millions of years to form a canyon almost 100 kilometres in length. From rich red to a deep orange, the colours are the result of lava rocks and sediment deposited by the rivers which once flowed through the canyon.

Signposts to nowhere: Like the Trans-Siberian Railway, the road system was hugely important. Connecting the far reaches of the Soviet empire meant unifying the people. Commissioned by local authorities, signposts were a form of functional propaganda designed to raise morale. “Using limited materials and a prescribed vocabulary of symbols, the anonymous creators of these works strived for originality.” 

Shop our vintage propaganda posters below or explore the collection here.

Comrade Kiev creates sustainable, ethical, design-led tours to the most incredible places on earth. We’ve built close relationships with local guides, and will work with you to create an extraordinary trip which fits your budget, timeline and interests. Follow in the footsteps of legendary polar explorers, climb smoking volcanoes in the remote Far East, or cross the endless Gobi desert on camelback. We’ll take you there. We’ll get you closer. Explore our tours.

 

 

Flora | Russia | 1990£600.00
Life Threatening | Lithuania | 1983£450.00
Through Gobi & Khingan | Ukraine | 1981£450.00
List of all posters

Further Reading

culture

The eagle has landed: Hunting with the last eagle hunters in Kyrgyzstan

High above the southern shore of Issyk-Kul lake, in east Kyrgyzstan, we wait and watch for movement on the rocky hillside below. Movement means prey. And that means that the hunt is on. For centuries, the nomadic people of Central Asia have used eagles to hunt for food and fur. On one a freezing morning in December, I went hunting with Nur-Sultan, Kyrgyzstan’s most famous eagle hunter.

architecture

Castles & Controversy: Inside Turkey's $200m Abandoned Town

A few hours drive from Istanbul is a remote valley with soft rolling slopes that is surrounded by woodland. What sets it apart from other valleys in the area, is the hundreds of identical chateaus. More than 500 palatial homes sit abandoned on a 250 acre site. I have a deep interest in the Soviet Union and abandoned places. While this town isn’t Soviet, it’s too bizarre to not write about.

travel

The Land of Fire: The Do’s and Don'ts in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, the land of fire and authoritarianism. Azerbaijan literally translates to ‘protector of fire’, while the textbook definition of authoritarianism is its ‘president’, Ilham Aliyev. I spent three weeks in Azerbaijan, which was probably two weeks too many. Here is my list of places to visit...and avoid.

culture

Soviet Sanatoriums: The Crumbling Remains of Tskaltubo, Georgia

In the USSR, a spa weekend wasn’t a pampered holiday. It was a requisite, prescribed by the Soviet state. In their heyday, millions of citizens across the Soviet Union visited sanatoriums each year, on an all expenses retreat paid for by the state. Today these icons of communism are crumbling, in varying states of decay, with just a few still welcoming guests.

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