The Imaginary City

A friend recently forward me a London Review of Book’s write-up of Owen Hatherley’s architectural travelogue of post-Communist spaces. It got us talking about the motivations of the western mind towards these kinds of exotic expeditions. What draws some people, like myself, to not just visit these sites but write about them? The discussion me understand why…

Four Days in March, Part 1: The Kazakhstan Super Cup

I was back in Kazakhstan late winter, and managed to watch four football matches while there. The first one was the kick-off for the season, the Super Cup. Facing off were the previous season’s champions FC Astana and the Cup holders Kairat Almaty. Astana are the upstarts, a new club started a few years back to…

Nazarbaev, Inc.

I first visited Astana back in 2008 (here and here). After a year in Almaty, I finally ventured north to look for the ‘real Kazakhstan’ in the capital.  Since then I have returned several times, and finally had the chance to spend a few nights on the Left Bank proper. The Left Bank is the…

Finding Kvas, and Kazakhstan, in Astana

(This is a continuation of my previous post on my trip to Astana, capital city of Kazakhstan.) We took a cab from the sparkling new city across the river to the Right Bank, where most of the city lies. Before the beginning of the current remont Tselinograd was a fairly standard Kazakh/Soviet city. From all the pictures/materials…

Beijing Goes Boom

There’s an interesting article from Reuters on the Olympic construction boom in Beijing (and some great pictures). In preparation for the 2008 Games, China has concentrated on building ‘futuristic architectural statements’ to show off the state’s development. International events like the Olympics have long been used by the host nation as this type of showcase….

The Great Flat North (or: MY beloved ASTANA!)

There were some odd sights in this respect too. For example some workers tearing up a seemingly normal sidewalk and laying down pavement. Also visible are the posters plastered all over any construction barriers, proclaiming slogans for the 10th Birthday. Annoyingly these same posters were also on display in Almaty.