American gives impressions of EXPO 2017 and personal ideas behind power of blogging

ASTANA – What is this trend known as blogging? What is its main aim compared to how corporate journalists write on a day-to-day base? Are they the independent media or a little bit more?

Some say bloggers are simply writers who have a yearning for uncensored self-expression of their surroundings, as well as a personal, unadulterated opinion on any given topic that sparks their mind.

The Astana Times chatted with blogger Izabel Trizlova, a native of the United States and seasoned world traveler. She shared her ideas about what it is to be a blogger and why she decided to volunteer for EXPO 2017.

“First of all, I had the rare opportunity to work for the USA pavilion at the expo and overall I had a general interest in Kazakhstan,” she said.

Before coming to Kazakhstan, Trizlova knew the geographic location of the country but little about its culture. Everything changed when she learned she was accepted into the volunteer programme.

“First, coming here I didn’t know what to expect in regards to the country, in addition to the tasks I would be doing here and how the people would accept me as a foreigner. And to my pleasant surprise, everyone here has been so cordial; I really felt true Kazakh hospitality and it is hard to believe that I have these great moments so quickly because this is just the beginning of my journey here,” she said.

Trizlova spoke about her impression of blogging.

“Being a blogger has a lot to do with expressing one’s overall writing about their experience that has happened to them or shaped their character. In turn, we can share these events with other people around the world. The ultimate possibility is that we can be the facilitators that can inspire people with our words and which can reach the hearts of people,” she said.

“I haven’t had so many experiences so far, because I haven’t yet got to venture out of the expo because of the sheer amount of work I have to do around our pavilion. But I can tell you that I have had the unique opportunity to talk to locals and head over to other foreign pavilions. There have been some memorable engagements with them and I have had some really good close connections in such a close knit social atmosphere that we built here,” she added.

Trizlova noted why she chose to spend her summer far from home.

“My mission statement is to get as much as I can out of this experience, learn about the expo, discover the true meaning behind the Kazakh culture and venture out to see many different cities and places which will open up my cultural pallet even more,” she said.

Even though Trizlova has been working at the USA pavilion each day, Kazakh citizens are more than happy to give her daily inspiration on what kind of steps she can take on her personal blog journey within the Land of the Great Steppe to make it the most rewarding.



Monaco pavilion “Mirroring the Future” astonishes crowds at EXPO 2017

ASTANA – Monaco’s 3-million-euro pavilion “Mirroring the Future” leaves EXPO 2017 visitors in awe as it goes in sync with Principality establishments, marine world icons and its theme.

“The central installation is composed of blades that oscillate like a wave,” according to pavilion guides. “This structure, never yet realised, reflects the projection of a film about the very close relationship between the principality and the marine environment. Thus, the visitor can totally immerse himself or herself and undertake a trip full of emotions. The music and sound design will underline the rhythms of breathing, with pauses that will create greater suspense and gradually becoming more and more musical. The sound effect becomes a melodious tune, so that together with the pictures a world of its own is created.”

The concept was inspired by a quote from H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and is imprinted on the walls in the hall.

“For a long time, I have dreamt of a country which would function as a model in all respects. A country which would be a source of models: a model for life, a model for development, a model for wellbeing, a model for peace. […] I am therefore convinced that Monaco can become, in its own way, a major power, combining a vision of the world that is focused on progress and wellbeing with the implementation of measures to protect the environment,” it notes.


The pavilion mirrors the intellectual reflection and actions implemented in the country in terms of ecological awareness and behaviour. The exhibit is Monaco’s reflection on the Mediterranean Sea and an intellectual reflection concerning the “duality between man and nature.”

After a short film, the audience is invited to explore the principality’s seashores and cities using 360 Oculus virtual reality goggles. The length of the four optional tours depends on the buildings and sites one wants to visit. There is a city tour that includes the palace, Casino Square, inside the casino and Hermitage Hotel; nature tour to the Princess Antoinette Park, exotic garden, observatory cave and Japanese garden; sea tour inside and outside the oceanographic museum, Port Hercule and Grimaldi Forum and the sky tour with Larvotto Beach, Fontvieille Marina, Fontvieille and the Monte Carlo Country Club.


Next up are Monaco’s future offshore urbanisation project to be built by 2025 and the green lab with an interactive screen. The latter tells about Monaco’s initiatives and plans in the green energy sector.

The pavilion also includes a solar bike assembled by high school students at Monaco’s Technical and Hospitality School. The project was sponsored by Kazakh biker and 2012 Olympic Champion Alexandre Vinokourov.

“Built with ecological materials such as bamboo, this resort resonates with the theme of ‘Mirroring the Future’ by presenting the involvement and awareness of the young generation of the principality around issues like green energy for our future,” it notes.

At the end of the pavilion, visitors will have the chance to purchase national souvenirs and have snacks and sweets. The 60-person staff is expecting to host nearly 250,000 guests.

The current expo theme is very important for Monaco, as the country decided to use up to 40 percent of renewable energy obtained only from neighbouring states, according to pavilion deputy commissioner Alexandre Bocquillon. He believes the event will have a great impact on developing advanced technologies.



Astana parks offer EXPO 2017 shows for visitors

ASTANA – Parks become attractive places in the summer where people can spend an hour or two or even a whole day with family or friends. The capital’s green and picturesque open spaces are perfect for those looking for some peace and quiet in the city.

The metropolitan parks will become even more beautiful and modern this year with the addition of events devoted to EXPO 2017.

Huge and centrally located, Stolichniy (Capital) Park is the best place for family recreation. It not only features beautiful architecture and landscape, but also quite a bit of entertainment for children and adults. The park is divided into six sections: a waterside, central alley, composition of four rock shelters with a mosaic interior, fountain and area of Olympians. Stolichniy offers plenty of things to do and activities to enjoy.

Arai Park is a delightful place adjacent to the Yessil River. Thanks to beautiful natural landscapes and sculptures, the area has become something more than just a spot to relax from a bustling city. Visitors can find yurts of different sizes, horse herds and ethnic details of Kazakh culture.

Zheruyik Park, another of the city’s picturesque spots, allows visitors to rest in the cool shade of its trees and freshness of its grass. Located along Bauyrzhan Momyshuly Avenue at the intersection with Magzhan Zhumabayev Avenue, it features a monument honouring the 28 Panfilov Guardsmen. Convenient driveways and parking lots, proximity to residential areas, magnificent nature, picturesque views and the availability of necessary infrastructure make this place an attractive spot for a variety of family leisure activities.

Far from walking paths, one can have a picnic under the trees. The park is also a great place to play active games.

The park near the Palace of Peace and Harmony is another of the capital’s green islands. It is the perfect spot for romantic walks, relaxing with a picnic and watching a fascinating view of the city decorated at night with colourful lights.

This summer, park visitors will witness entertainment programmes devoted to EXPO 2017. The exhibition’s theme of future energy will be reflected in the design of the pavilions and park areas. Fans of robots and street dances, for example, will enjoy a show with a futuristic production featuring dancing artists in LED suits. A variety of performances will be held every day until Sept.10.

The capital has 10 parks with an area of 401,290 hectares, four boulevards measuring 30 hectares and 90 squares totalling 131,940 hectares.



Daytrip from Astana: Borovoye summer highlights

ASTANAThe period of EXPO 2017 coincides with peak holiday season in Kazakhstan. In Astana, for most of the population, that will mean trips to Borovoye.

Borovoye, a village built around a lake of the same name, is Astana’s closest getaway destination and probably its most visited. The area is a lovely getaway both for those who like to simply relax and look at great views on their vacations and for people who need to burn off energy swimming, hiking or otherwise actively engaged in their surroundings.

Photo credit: borovoe.cityshow.me

“Tour operators have developed seven tourist packages that cover more than 30 routes in the Shchuchinsk-Borovoye resort zone and the Korgalzhyn nature reserve,” said head of the Tourism Department of Akmola region Shynarbek Batyrkhanov.

Tour packages include an excursion to the best sites in Borovoye, including historical sites like Abylai Khan meadow with its famous granite throne. Kazakhstan’s strangely delicious national fermented milk product, kumis, is sold at the tour stops for 600 tenge ($2), as are other dishes like baursaks (fried doughnuts), as well as souvenirs.

Another historical site nearby is Zhailau ethnographical village. Zhailau recreates the life of nomadic peoples who lived in yurts (nomadic mobile felt houses) and raised stock. The open-air tour offers one-hour horse rides far from the city bustle.

Lake Borovoye is only one of several lakes close to the village, but it is considered the most beautiful and distinguished by its size. Located 70 kilometres from the city of Kokshetau, the blue waters of the lake are extremely popular among locals and foreign tourists.

Burabai National Park, the zone of mountains that surrounds Lake Borovoye, is perhaps Borovoye’s major destination. The mountains that ring the lakes offer fun for hikers and climbers.


Photo credit: borovoe.cityshow.me

A stunning panorama of Borovoye and Big Chebachie Lakes, Zhumbaktas Rock and Okzhetpes Mountain opens from Bolekau Mountain at a height of 147 metres. Those who travel by car can park their vehicles in specially designated parking lots. Climbing Okzhetpes Mountain, with a height of more than 300 metres, requires special equipment. The highest mountain in Borovoye, 947-metre Kokshetau Mountain, however, is walkable. It takes about four to five hours to go to the top and back.

Summer in Borovoye is not as hot as in other places in the country because of the nearby water and the mountains that provide shade and protection from the wind.

The lakeside offers a variety of accommodations with numerous hotels in all price ranges, spas and rest houses. The soft mountain climate, clean air and curative mud make relaxing here not only pleasant but also beneficial for one’s health, locals believe. There are also hostels and houses and apartments for rent. One-day accommodation cost starts from 10,000 tenge (US$31), but usually not higher than 35,000 tenge (US$110) for two people, according to booking.com.

Guides advise staying at the Kokshetau, Zhekebatyr or Dostyk hotels, all of which have modern rooms, saunas, swimming pools, bars and cafes, cosy restaurants and parking facilities.

Borovoye is also the one of the country’s main gaming area. Cash Ville Casino is located in Borovoye’s Rixos Hotel. Cash Ville is one of the biggest and most luxurious casinos in Central Asia, according to boora.info, promising to provide European-level service. It has 50 gaming tables, where visitors can play American roulette, black jack, baccarat and the most popular forms of poker. The hotel provides discounts for casino visitors.

You can get to Borovoye by car, bus or minibus and electric train. The journey takes three or four hours. Buses and route taxis leave from the Saparzhai-Astana bus station.



UN Under Secretary-General: EXPO invites creative thinking and a search for new ideas

ASTANA – EXPO 2017 is bringing people from all around the world to Astana, connecting them through dialogue while focusing the world’s attention on the enormous opportunities in moving to sustainable energy.

The international event highlights the reality that this is a global effort and countries must work together to share ideas and solve these challenges, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said in a recent interview with The Astana Times.

Shamshad Akhtar

“For the last few years Kazakhstan has done intensive preparatory work which has now culminated in the successful hosting of the expo,” Akhtar said. “The beautiful buildings at the expo site showcase incredible architecture. The spherical Kazakhstan pavilion at the centre of the expo is breath-taking. The expo space, through its architecture, provides the perfect environment to start thinking about the energy of the future. It invites creative thinking and a search for new ideas.”

“It is encouraging to see so many countries and international organisations sharing innovative solutions to promoting sustainable energy, offering a futuristic vision of energy at the expo. There is a strong sense of positive energy from the participants, be they leaders in government, from the private sector or international organisations. The many innovative technologies and projects presented here on future energy remind us that we can change the future for the better by continuing to innovate and supporting these technologies with the right policies,” she explained.

The ESCAP booth at the UN Pavilion presents information on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) on sustainable energy and work in support of its implementation being carried out across the Asia-Pacific. Part of this booth is an interactive presentation of the Asia Pacific Energy Portal. This is a web-based information platform designed to increase the accessibility and use of ESCAP’s regional energy information. It supports research and analysis and informs decision-making and policy actions. It is a unique analytical tool, which allows rapid access to the three main areas: data, policy and infrastructure, Akhtar explained.

Akhtar arrived in Astana to participate in the June 11 Meeting the Challenge of Sustainable Energy Ministerial Conference and drew attention to some outcomes of the event.

“Following the Ministerial Statement, there are number of areas where the Regional Commissions could develop joint projects. These include sharing good practices on the development of national sustainable energy strategies and action plans to align with future energy needs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with dialogues on technology, policy and lessons learned from different countries and regions,” Akhtar told the paper.

“One of the outcomes of the Ministerial Conference on Sustainable Energy convened at the expo was to establish a Green Technology and Investment Centre in Kazakhstan. The centre offers good prospects for joint activities among member countries and international organisations. ESCAP has a sub-regional office for North and Central Asia located in Almaty, which is well placed to coordinate ESCAP-Kazakhstan cooperation on areas related to sustainable energy development,” she added.

ESCAP is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. ESCAP provides a forum for its member states to promote regional cooperation to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic and social development.

Sustainable energy is a very important component of this. ESCAP is promoting collective action on energy access, energy efficiency, renewable energy and trans-boundary energy connectivity, Akhtar said.

“We are also working to deepen regional economic cooperation and integration by improving transport, energy and ICT [information and communications technologies] connectivity while addressing barriers to trade and financial cooperation. This process can contribute enormously to the sustainable development agenda,” Akhtar said, adding that ESCAP provides a very effective platform to bring countries together to work collectively on the challenge of sustainable energy.



Human muscle power generates energy in Austrian pavilion at EXPO 2017

ASTANA – EXPO 2017 guests are welcome to test their muscle power as a source of energy at the Austrian pavilion, according to the exhibition press service. The nation has prepared an amusing programme where visitors can explore its path to clean energy.

Photo credit: kazpravda.kz

The Austrian power machine is the soul of the pavilion, where various technologies and mechanisms allow guests to use their muscles to generate energy through all forms of activity. Whatever they choose to do will supply the pavilion with energy – mind, soul and muscular power combine to make the pavilion breathe. The concept is that people will make a step closer to forming a conscious attitude towards energy.

“The economic sun now rises in the East; this is what the numbers show. Austria has managed to increase exports to Asian and Central Asian regions by 200 percent from 2000-2015. We hope to represent our country with dignity at the exhibition in Astana and showcase all of its strengths. Our participation is aimed at the future and we want to be noticed,” said Austrian Minister for Science, Research and Economy Harald Mahrer, according to a press release.

The pavilion was officially opened June 14 by Austrian Vice-Minister Science, Research and Economy Bernadette Gierlinger and Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko during a festive ceremony complete with a live performance of the world famous St. Florian Boys Choir.

Photo credit: kazpravda.kz

Photo credit: kazpravda.kz

With an area of 870 square metres, the pavilion is hard not to notice. A team of architects from BWM Architekten divided the venue into several creative and unique zones, each representing a particular renewable energy source.

“There is no doubt that EXPO 2017 in Astana is the most important event of the year in the field of renewable energy, its effective use and best green technologies and environmental sustainability,” stated the press service.

One of main goals is also to turn Austria into the European hub for a modern-day Silk Way, noted Mahrer.

“Besides, the international exhibition is a chance for Austria to project itself as a strong economy and trade partner in the framework of the Chinese project aimed at reviving the ancient Silk Way,” said Austrian Federal Economic Chamber Vice President and national expo commissioner Richard Schenz.

Austria is among the recognised world leaders in renewable energy. Nearly one in 20 workplaces is related to green energy, which significantly helps reduce energy, water and raw material consumption and minimise pollution and the amount of waste.

Schenz also believes in Austria’s leading role in renewable energy.

“The expo must become a platform for a bright demonstration of Austrian capabilities in the future energy theme and give an opportunity to new players to get familiar with Astana and Kazakhstan,” he added.

Austrian companies also took part in the construction of expo venues. The sphere, the main pavilion for the event, was built using 380 solar panels produced by Amstetten-based solar energy equipment producer Ertex Solar. Evolute, a high tech company based in Vienna, completed the calculations for the geometric complex facades, while Tiroler Rohre supplied 1.5 kilometres of high-strength iron pipes to provide the water supply system for Expo City.

During the opening, Gierlinger, Vassilenko, Schenz and the rest of the group were able to ride bycicles together to produce energy in a common effort.



Cirque du Soleil gives sneak peek before EXPO 2017 performance

ASTANA – The world-famous Cirque du Soleil has prepared the exclusive REFLEKT show based on nomadic culture for EXPO 2017. A seven-minute portion, created by the team 45 DEGREES of Cirque du Soleil, was presented to journalists.

The mythical story reflects the idea of renewable energy sources and the desire of humankind for the future. The main character is Arman, an archaeologist who reveals the miracles of the seven elements of Kazakh culture: happiness and fortune, wisdom and prosperity, speed, growth and blessing. This role is based on the image of the Golden Man. Arman means “a dream” in Kazakh.

“We have developed a cultural and entertainment programme to demonstrate the diversity of Kazakhstan’s culture. Our orchestras, creative groups and our pop singers are thoroughly represented,” said Astana EXPO 2017 national company’s director of content and event organisation Marat Omarov.

Cirque du Soleil is including elements of Kazakh culture in its performance for the first time. The programme contains national ornaments tied to costumes, national dance choreography and a national instrument.

“The dombra will also be in musical accompaniment along with classical instruments. All the costumes of the artists will feature Kazakh ornaments. The Golden Man, archaeologist and golden eagle are the main characters. We are going to demonstrate the biggest show-jump with 38 participants. It is one of the interesting parts of the show and lasts seven minutes,” said REFLEKT general director Bernard Poyry.

According to Cirque du Soleil representatives, REFLEKT will only be presented in Kazakhstan. Nearly two years were devoted to the design of the programme and its numbers have not yet been presented to the public. Noiseless motorcycles also will be used for the first time.

The organisation of the show involves approximately 120 people, but only about 80 individuals will be performing for three months. The specially-created 75-minute performance will be shown 71 times from June 16-Sept. 9 in a separate circus pavilion on the expo grounds.

Cirque du Soleil, the largest theatrical entertainment producer in the world, was founded in Canada in 1984 by former street performers Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix. Each show, with its own central theme and storyline, is a synthesis of circus styles from around the world.



China honours EXPO 2017 with issuance of special bank note

ASTANA – With permission from the Astana EXPO 2017 national company, Chinese companies Wanbo and Zhangdao Wenhua have issued memorable banknotes and a postage stamp dedicated to the EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition in Astana and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and China.

The banknotes and stamp were presented at a recent press conference in the Pudong area in Shanghai. Representatives of the Kazakh Consulate General in Shanghai, the promotion and tourism department of the Astana EXPO 2017 national company, the Committee for the Promotion of International Trade of China, the Foreign Affairs and Trade Chamber of Shanghai, the party leadership of the exhibition area of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and approximately 50 large Chinese enterprises, as well as collectors of rare bills and representatives of the media attended.

This was the first issue of commemorative currency for an expo since 1851. The bank notes (without denomination) are issued in the amount of 5,000 sets, each of which has two bank notes showing Kazakhstan – with the Baiterek Tower on a blue background and the National Pavilion of Kazakhstan at the expo; and China – the Great Wall and the Temple of Heaven on a yellow background.

Consul General of Kazakhstan in Shanghai Zhoshykhan Kiraubayev noted during the unveiling that this year has been declared the Year of Chinese Tourism in Kazakhstan and that the Chinese president was about to visit Astana. He also invited the Chinese public to take part in expo activities.

Participants of the press conference were shown a video and were provided booklets about the exhibition.



Tourism company offers double-decker bus sightseeing tours

ASTANA – The private company Visit Astana with the support of the city’s akimat (administration) is providing city sightseeing tours on double-decker buses, according to the akimat’s press service.

The Hop-on, Hop-off double-decker buses pass the city’s main attractions, including the territory of EXPO 2017. Buses are equipped with audio guides with the six available languages, including Kazakh, Russian, English, Chinese, Turkish and German.

Tickets cost 3,000 tenge (US$9) for adults, 2,000 tenge (US$6) for students and pensioners, 1,000 tenge (US$3) for children 6-14 and free for youngsters under five. The bus ticket is valid for 24 hours. Tourists can get off at any stop to walk around and get on the next bus. The interval between buses is 30-35 minutes.

The starting and ending point of the route is a stop in front of the Duman entertainment centre along the Kurgaldzhin Highway. The route includes the Duman entertainment centre, Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre, Mangilik Yel Arch, Mega Silk Way Shopping Mall, the National Museum of Kazakhstan and the Baiterek monument.

The project was launched last year.

“As the evenings are becoming colder, we offer plaid blankets for our guests. We also provide services for wedding catering. The wedding tours in our buses are now gaining popularity. There are a lot of tourists and visitors from Russia who are interested in the city’s development and architecture,” said Project Administrator Larissa Vostrova in an interview last year with The Astana Times.

Additional information is available at sightseeing-tours.kz.



Astana’s new Nurly Zhol railway station is open for business

ASTANA – The new Nurly Zhol railway station had its first passengers June 1 and a visit from President Nursultan Nazarbayev, according to akorda.kz.

In the run-up to EXPO 2017 in the capital, the whole city is undergoing a make-over – new buildings, hotels and services are being launched – all to accommodate guests during the three-month exhibition.

Nazarbayev, who met with the station’s staff and had the chance to assess some of the surrounding infrastructure, told the press he was impressed.

“Soon, the opening of the expo exhibition will kick off; this is why today I’m checking the new facilities of the capital, which are the new pride of Astana. New air routes are being launched covering the whole of Europe and Asia. These objects show the new look of the capital. The Nurly Zhol railway station is one of a kind, as there is no such station in the entire post-Soviet region,” he said.


The head of state also stressed the dynamic pace of infrastructure and transport development in the entire country; for example, the launch of the high-speed Talgo trains from Astana to all regions.

“All this is being built for the future of our state,” said the President. “These projects were erected within the framework of the Nurly Zhol programme. Only by launching the new terminal will the airport’s capacity increase from three to eight million passengers per year. All the expo visitors will arrive in Astana via these new facilities.”

The Nurly Zhol station complex consists of six levels with an area of ​​126,000 square metres connecting six receiving and sending routes. Passengers get on and off the trains on the third floor. The station is equipped with cutting-edge intelligent control and monitoring systems for passenger traffic, queueing, security and e-ticket sales.

The station’s management said it expects a passenger flow of approximately 12 million people a year. The facility, built according to the latest advanced technologies, has a staff of more than 1,000 people. Trains will now arrive inside the station to ensure passengers are warm during the winter and comfortable in summer’s heat. The new station was constructed according to all international and modern standards and will include energy-saving elevators and escalators to follow the future energy concept.

The expo exhibition will officially launch June 10. The grand opening ceremony, scheduled for June 9, will include parades and theatrical shows with foreign and local stars and celebrities.

The organisers are expecting about five million visitors in the span from June 10-Sept. 10. Approximately 85 percent of the guests will be Kazakh residents, while the remainder will be foreign citizens, the majority from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and China.