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Singaporeans in Kazakhstan: why Astana is the future economic centre of Central Asia


Singaporeans in Kazakhstan: why Astana is the future economic centre of Central Asia

Lorraine Tiglao, 24 years old, hometown — Singapore, freelancer

Lorraine Tiglao.jpg

About the trip

I came to Kazakhstan last summer, and I was invited to visit friends who once lived in Singapore. For a trip to Kazakhstan, I did not need applying for a visa, and it simplifies the journey and motivates to go to Kazakhstan. However, the flight from Singapore to Astana is painfully long. The best flight option is 13 hours in the air and one transfer in Beijing. Long flights are tiring, so I had high hopes for Kazakhstan.

About Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is an unusual country, especially for the Asian world. If for Western countries you are a Central Asian country and another country with Eastern culture, for other Eastern countries you are something between East and West. This is reflected in your architecture and history.

I was impressed by the post-Soviet architecture near the buildings in the style of high-tech. Urban infrastructure demonstrates the development of the country, its history and plans for the future. Contrast is a natural phenomenon for any country, city, but in Kazakhstan, it is at a completely different level. Gray, depressing buildings of the Cold War time harmoniously coexist with skyscrapers and villas of the new format.

For me, this journey was a revelation. I thought Kazakhstan was an Eastern country, but it was completely different. As my Kazakh friend said: "we are nomads, and we have the poetic soul of the steppe." I agree with his statement. For example, Almaty has this atmosphere, the spirit of steppe poetry, but at the same time, the city's residents work and develop in the traditions of the Western world.

Kazakhstan is a mystery about which the world does not suspect yet

About culture similarities and differences

Kazakhstanis are unusual in their mentality. In your culture, it is customary to respect and observe traditions, but the traditions are also changing. Singaporeans are used to work in the Western system but our thinking remains traditionally Eastern. Probably, the reason is history: Kazakhstan for many years bordered with different countries, which have different cultures. For me, it is a value that you must cherish and develop.

Kazakh cuisine is fat, and there is too much meat in it. In Singapore, I mostly eat chicken and fish. On the first day of my arrival, my Kazakh friends treated me to a traditional Kazakh dish — beshbarmak. I liked the dough of this dish, but I could not eat it whole.

About plans

Now I do not have the opportunity to visit Kazakhstan again, but I hope that in the future I will be able to fly again and see how everything has changed.

Yen Wei Lim, 23 years old, hometown — Singapore, middle manager

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About the trip

The trip to Kazakhstan was unexpected for me. I did not plan to fly to Kazakhstan, but the authorities sent me to Astana to extend the contract with the Kazakh company.

The visa-free regime for Singapore is the convenience of the highest class, no need to suffer from a package of documents, just take your passport and buy a ticket.

However, I was upset by the airport staff. Not everyone knew English, and sometimes it led to awkward situations.

About Kazakhstan

Since I came on a business trip, I did not expect to walk around the city and visit the sights. But Kazakhstani colleagues insisted on a short city tour. Due to this, I visited the National Museum, Astana Opera, Astana Ballet and Khan Shatyr shopping centre. Astana is a reminder of Singapore — a modern building, lots of glass. However, your city lacks greenery.

I assumed the climate would be different, but I have not thought such difference. Partly cloudy and constant cold wind weather caught me by surprise. I bought a new jacket and scarf on the first day. In Singapore, they remain as a reminder of my trip.

The city pleased me, its growth and potential are visible, I think, with specific attention, Astana will become the economic capital of Central Asia.

About culture similarities and differences

Our kitchens are different. In Singapore, we often eat spicy food and seafood. Also, in Singapore, many people eat pork, one of our traditional dishes — Bak Kut Teh — soup of pork ribs. And in Kazakhstan more often dishes are from horse meat and beef.

Kazakhstanis are good at business negotiations in different styles

Kazakhstanis are good at business negotiations in different styles. The famous Oriental wordplay and the gradual bringing a talk to the point and the direct conversation of the Western tradition are intertwined here. Businessmen from Singapore have the same ability. We are an Asian country with a special culture, but we develop the economy and business according to the Western system, so we had to learn several styles of negotiations. In my opinion, this is a big plus, as your businessmen can be more flexible and better adapt to changes in the market.

Traditions for Kazakhs are not an empty phrase, and you respect your elders and spend a lot of time with your family, the same can be seen in Singapore.

About plans

I think this is not my last trip to Kazakhstan. I hope to visit your country again in the near future and visit other cities.

Yoga Yu, 27 years old, hometown — Singapore, merchandiser

Yoga Yu.jpg

About the trip

My friend invited me to Kazakhstan. We met on the Internet, and he often offered me to fly to Almaty. He made a boast of the incredible nature of the city and its cosy atmosphere. To be honest, I have long wanted to go to the journey: I was tired of Singapore's bustle and wanted a change of scenery. In the summer I planned a long-awaited vacation and decided to go to Kazakhstan, as the country is not filled with tourists and you can safely discover new places.

About Kazakhstan

I stayed in Almaty for two weeks, during which time I managed to visit a lot of parks and museums. My favourite Park was Panfilov Park. The story of these brave soldiers captivated me. I had a great time at BAO and went up to Shymbulak. Almaty has incredible nature, and mountains captivate with its majesty and tranquillity. This trip helped me to put into shape my soul and to understand myself.

I fell in love with Kazakh restaurants, and they always cook tasty and satisfying. Especially liked the bar Barmaglot is a cosy and driving place.

The favourite coffee shop was Angel in Us.

Almaty is a warm city that reminds of its creative soul. I saw a lot of street musicians and other artists.

About culture similarities and differences

I have lived in Europe for a long time, so I can not say about all the cultural differences between Singaporeans and Kazakhstanis, but I noticed a few similarities.

Kazakhs value family and respect elders

Kazakhs value family and respect elders. Singapore also has a respectful attitude to the older generation and there is some cult of the family. I think this is a huge advantage in our countries.

Kazakh youth is the same as ours. We also want changes, and we want to create a society of the future with no national, gender and other prejudices. Your future is in bold hands, so I am sure that Kazakhstan will still show itself on the world stage.

About plans

My job does not provide me with annual leave, so I have to stay in Singapore for another couple of years. But as soon as I have a chance, I will come to Kazakhstan again.

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