Foreign tourists who come to the Almaty and Zhetysu regions are opting to immerse themselves in the traditional Kazakh way of living over sightseeing conventional tourist attractions, Qazmonitor reports with reference to Khabar 24.
Cities around the world barely differ from each other these days. To seek something truly authentic, tourists now flock to the more rural areas where some semblance of culture and history are still preserved and even practiced.
'Paradise on Earth'
The first thing visitors see upon setting foot in the village of Basshi is a small make-shift band of residents playing music as a warm welcome. None of them speaks English and there are no translation services available.
A few years ago, the community of Basshi were perplexed by outsiders showing unusual interest in their humble settlement of about a thousand people. They quickly realized that the travelers were interested in the Kazakh way of life and traditions and distributed the roles among themselves: children dance, women cook, men do all the hard labor, and aksakals tell stories and bless tourists.
Ardak Omarova, a teacher at the local school, has turned her home into a guesthouse. She can accommodate up to 18 people at a time. In the courtyard, she has set up a yurt that serves as a dining room. She feeds people exclusively national dishes: Kazakh-style meat, kurt, baursak, kumis, shubat, and more. In four years, she has welcomed tourists from 60 countries.
She talked about how it all started: "Several years ago, we started noticing that foreigners began coming to our aul regularly. We were a bit confused and didn't understand them since no one here speaks English. As it turned out, they were tourists visiting our national parks, and looking into the villages in search of a place to stay. We had no hotels, and no one wanted to leave them on the street. Since then our tourist business began to develop."
To add to the authenticity, the locals only speak Kazakh, while the tourists mostly speak English. But both sides do not seem to mind that too much.
"I have been in this village for more than ten days and I am in a constant state of euphoria. I haven't seen such hospitality anywhere. Aksakals explained to me that Kazakhs consider a man a guest only on the first day and a relative on the second day. Everyone here treats me as one of their own. I even began to understand the Kazakh language. And nature here is magical. This is paradise on Earth!"
Though the people are friendly, the laws are strict. No alcohol is served nor sold in the village. The residents argue that to enjoy the full experience of the surrounding nature and local culture, the person has to be sober.