Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I did a brief blog on Sandra's move when I was in California.  We had been and seen around when I was last here and decided what apartment would be our first choice.  Fortunately, by moving sooner rather than later Sandra was able to get the apartment that she wanted.

There are seven residential blocks around a paved courtyard.  Each is 5 stories and each floor in each block is identical, having One three bedroom apartment one large two bedroom apartment and two smaller two bedroom apartments.  They are all fairly well appointed, but there are some peculiarities to the layouts as the floor plans were changed from the original design to meet an higher standard for emergency exits.  The three bedroom is the most logical layout, is the only floorplan with a bath tub rather than showers, and whereas nobody is likely to visit us, making a third bedroom redundant, there is no off site storage provided so one needs a bedroom just to store suitcases, bikes and any extra furniture that one has brought and cannot use.  The management will not remove any existing furniture here so, unlike Ardager and Marriott one has to live with what has been supplied.  This is more of a problem for people who have brought their own beds etc!

Above is what the three bedroom apartment looked like as we were walking round it last August, and below, after we moved in.
You may notice that the third bedroom is now rather full as a storage room.  All closets are also full, which is another reason to maximise the room space...closet space comes with bedrooms, even though there is room in the hall for two large closets.

One of the differences between the previewed apartment and the apartment after we moved in was that "artwork" had been put up on the walls. We have actually got four large pictures; these are they.
If they appear to be somewhat similar, it is because they, and the pictures in the other apartments are all exactly the same.  After all after making the tough decision on the selection of "the best" picture, why compromise by selecting and second third and forth choice.  Far better to just use the best everywhere.  Unfortunately, some people are not as keen on these poppies as they should be, so they need an extra bedroom to store them in.

The Zheti Kasyna compound has a fairly nice club house with a pool, gym, sauna, restaurant, beauty salon, games room and small shop.  The photos here and below were taken in summer before we moved in and the place was not yet finished.
There is also an outside tennis court and soccer area and terrace.  These pictures were taken before they were finished.
Here are a few pictures of the finished facility.

There are a few problems with this new facility, the first and most unchangable is the location.  As my earlier blog on Isker showed it is located in an area which is hard to reach on foot.  I have been taken to task for saying this and been told that it is an easy bike ride back into town.  However, I do not have a bike here, and do not intend to buy a bike for here, and do not want another bike in the bedroom.  I am also not convinced riding a bike in winter here is a safe thing to do on the main road.  The bottom line is that it is over a kilometer walk to the nearest half decent shopping facility, which means that taxis are really the only quick way in and out.

I have already walked to the main shops, river and markets several times.  There are definite similarities to the same walk from the Marriott as you can see in the pictures below.  Both routes involve a walk by the river, a bridge to cross, and a view upstream.  Can you tell which pictures are from the "old" Marriott walk and which are from the "new" Zheti Kasyna walk?

The other thing about this location is the views are rather different.  This is what I used to spend most of the day looking at from the Marriott.

And this is the best I can get at Zheti Kasyna, in other words, it is the view to the outside and not over the courtyard.

The new view from my desk is not helped by the windows being caked in dirt. We have asked about cleaning but it doesn't seem a priority.  So I keep the blinds shut most of the helps with privacy anyway!
But once over the location issue, the new home has a lot of advantages.  There is a lot more space!  The equipment is not to the Marriott standard but it is newer and adequate.  It is possible to cook a large meal in the kitchen and to seat the guests round the table.  The Clubhouse has more facilities than the Marriott, though the gym is not as good, the pool is an added bonus for the swimmers.  

The restaurant appears to have been designed and the menus planned before the Management realised that this is not likely to be a majority Italian occupied facility, and therefore the residents are unlikely to share the unmitigated belief in all things pasta that the Italians have.  In fact, restaurants in Atyrau still seem to believe that adding pizza and pasta to the menu moves them up into the top league!  

I believe that the AGIP staff in Atyrau are largely unaccompanied men, and they seem to be happy to eat Italian food prepared in a restaurant.  But there are more and more families here now, and from many other countries where a plate of pasta is not the dish of choice, and if it were, they know how easy it is to make at home.  There are also more young children and the restaurant does not seem to cater for them opening, as it does, at 7pm, a little late for small children from northern Europe or America.

However the restaurant and bar have been open for a special Happy Hours Evening on Thursday with less expensive drinks and a very nice spread of appetizers, which last week when we went, attracted a lot of people.  

One final point worth making is that this location is actually considered to be quite desirable.  It is a newly developing area on the edge of town and whilst the roads are not yet all paved, there are a lot of large homes built and still under construction.  This means we have can watch Kazakh home building first hand.  Here are some general photographs of the surrounding area. These are typical large homes in the area.

And below are some photos of the construction work.  The builders walk around on top of the roofs wearing flip-flops and without safety equipment.  It is scary to watch.

And although we miss the fabulous sunrises over Asia, we can now look instead at the sunsets over Europe!

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