Kazakhstan? You like!
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It might have depicted the country as a nation of moustache-touting, anti-Semitic chicken obsessives and incest-friendly prostitutes, but it looks like Borat has done amazing things for Kazakhstan’s tourist industry. For reasons that TNS can’t entirely fathom, Borat and his Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan have caused visa applications for the central Asian country to increase tenfold since 2006. Despite the Kazaks originally banning the film and threatening to sue Borat’s creator Sacha Baron Cohen for all he was worth (they didn’t), the Foreign Minister is now ‘grateful’ to him for ‘helping to attract tourists’. No, TNS does not understand this either. In the spirit of Kazakhstan’s newfound status as a tourist hotspot, however, we decided to track down its most popular visitor attractions. Just in case you ever feel like visiting. Thank us later. Big Almaty Lake. The lake, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, isn’t really that big, despite the bravado that its name suggests. This doesn’t stop it from being Kazakhstan’s number one tourist destination, though. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot else to say about it. It has a watchtower in the middle. And some birds. Mausolem of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. Take a trip south to Turkestan to visit the 14th century dedication to this Sufi leader. Apparently, it’s a national symbol and one of only three UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country. Tripadvisor does not provide a picture, but a quick Google tells me that it isn’t finished, and sits on the site of an ancient centre of caravan trade. So there you go. Zenkov Cathedral. A poor man’s version of Russia’s Saint Basil’s, in Red Square? It would seem so. It’s a bit smaller, and a bit more yellow. Tripadvisor reviewers recommend it as being ‘the best orthodox church’ they’ve ever visited.
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