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.”