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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
List of all posters

Further Reading

travel

The Trans-Siberian Railroad - The Railroad that Changed the World and Started a War

9,198 kilometres of tracks connect Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. As the longest railroad in the world, the Trans-Siberian Railway is truly one of humanity’s most impressive engineering feats. But, this symbol of Soviet power has also had an outsized impact on the world at large. Its construction was the catalyst for a war between two superpowers, it transported millions of prisoners to the Gulags, and served as a lifeline during the Second World War.

travel

Exploring Budapest’s Dystopian Underground Water Reservoir

Rising above the banks of Budapest’s Danube river is Gellért Hill, an affluent residential area with elegant tree-lined streets. But, hidden beneath the surface is a strange and surreal sight - the József Gruber Water Reservoir. Every March, it’s emptied for its annual cleaning. With 106 stretched columns, the second basin makes for a futuristic and dystopian landscape.

art

Abandoned Kyrgyzstan: Aalam-Ordo, the Centre of the Universe

Along the southern border of Issyk-Kul lake, Kyrgyzstan, two shining golden gates and 1,500 metre long wall shield a giant hundred hectare complex. I scaled the wall and on the other side, I discovered hundreds of abandoned yurts, an outdoor theatre and a handful of colourful peeling murals. ‘Aalam-Ordo’, which translates as ‘the centre of the universe’, now sits abandoned.

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.

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