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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Fisk

Traffic In Almaty 😏

Well we just passed the 1 year anniversary of getting our amazing Land Cruiser which inspired this post! Andrew is actually jumping in to help me with this one. First of all, I don’t drive!!! “No way, Jose!” Now, that’s not to say in a few years maybe I will but no thanks for now. Driving here is on a whole other spectrum. Not even like India or Thailand crazy, theirs is a bit more organized chaos I would say. It’s dangerous to drive here and I’m oh so thankful for Andrew’s mad defensive, intuitive, and sightly aggressive driving skills. (He’s like a local now using his horn frequently 😉) Roads tend to be “not quite wide enough” here, people swerve quickly around those that are turning, don’t forget the “unofficial” taxis that stop at random for people flagging someone down on the side of the road, and when accidents happen you are not allowed to move an inch until the police arrive on the scene. Of course if there is a small accident with little or no damage, if both parties agree to go, they can. Sometimes a little cash is exchanged to pay for damages instead of waiting for the police and filing an insurance claim. On the topic of insurance, we just paid for another year of coverage. The minimum required coverage is only around $100 for the year, To get more coverage, especially for a foreigner, increases the cost to over $1000 per year. Anyways, another thing is that police used to flag drivers down as a way of pulling them over (they still do in some nearby countries), but thankfully they’ve switched to pulling up beside you with flashing lights now. So considering these factors, traffic sucks here. Like “2 million people and even though LOTS of people are still taking public transportation including busses and the metro” kind of sucks. I wouldn’t say it’s at intense as maybe New York City or L.A. but let’s just say we do our best to avoid “rush hour” times. The morning it is from about 7:30-9:30ish. In the evening it is like 4:30-9:00!!! We have spent upwards of an 1 1/2 hours in traffic for a normal 20 min drive. 😳 Google doesn’t work so well here but we use a local driving App called 2GIS (it is used in other cities around the world as well) and they do great keeping road change updates and real traffic time. Speaking of road changes, the switched A BUNCH of roads this summer around the city to one way streets to help minimize traffic. That was interesting for Andrew to navigate in the midst of it before 2GIS fixed directions 😬 We have had interesting route changes due to heavy traffic including back roads that appear to lead to nowhere (but magically do), dirt roads and through neighborhoods! The above pictures show a couple of one lane traffic instances where there are NO alternate routes and even you can see how close people drive to reach other! (Andrew is quite versed in our own vehicle’s clearance as a result of needing to scootch quite close.) Oh, one last thing, people double park all the time (Andrew has too!) and they leave a note in their window with their phone number to call them up and have them move quick if they’re in the way 😂. I actually really like this system (except when you’re in a hurry). Poor Andrew feels like some days he is just in the car driving all day long, and he’s my hero driving me places at times so I don’t have to take so many taxis (much harder with a baby now!) And for reals, I pray every time I get into a taxi! Anyways, there is a glimpse into our lives on the road here!!

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