x35x My adventure in Kazakhstan
My story of how I met and found the woman of my dreams started last August 1999. I was still single at 31, and I was really broken hearted at the time. And I found myself searching for the ideal woman to be my wife. Being lonely my only route of escapism was surfing the internet. Then one night, quite by accident a banner about personal ads from women from Russia popped up on my screen. So I explored the site and found a plethora of beautiful women in search of husbands. So I signed up for the service and wrote to about 6 women. I got four replies, I wrote them back but never heard from them again. Finally another girl wrote to me but she said that she was already engaged to somebody but she gave my e-mail address to Oksana. Well, Oksana wrote to me and told me about her Web site and about the beautiful women of Kazakhstan. She e-mailed me pictures of ten women from Karaganda, one of larger cities in Central Kazakhstan. I picked two women and wrote letters to both of them and both had wonderful qualities. But somehow I was drawn more to the letter written by a lovely young lady named Larissa.
I started to e-mail to her at first weekly, soon a couple of times a week. We really got to know each other seriously and eventually we realized that we had both fallen in love with each other through letters. I would never have thought that it would be possible to fall in love with someone you.ve never met in person. By this time it was wintertime, and I promised Larissa I would visit her in the springtime. We kept in touch by e-mail for the next ten months.
Well, for one reason or another, I did was not able to book my flight until June. My flight from San Francisco left on the 23rd of June. It was a long flight, a total of about 30 hours of either flying or being in an airport. After a stop in Franfurt Germany (a route I highly recommend), our flight headed to Almaty, Kazakhstan. Now Larissa lives in Karaganda, so I had to make arrangements for her to meet me in Almaty. She took the train from Karaganda to Almaty (which is an 18 hour ride!). Our plane landed at about 11:00 pm local time, adn after some delays at the airport and customs (declare everything!) I finally stepped out of customs to the public area of the airport. I was very nervous at this time because I wasn.t sure if Larissa and Oksana had gottten the right schedule of my flight. And with the delays also inside the airport I was afraid they might have left thinking I did not arrive. I was greeted by a whole lobby full of cab drivers trying to get you to take their taxi. In my mind too I kept thinking that Larissa had not seen a photo of me for 10 months, so I was also worried she might not recognize me. Finally I turned a corner and there she was standing by herself. Our eyes met and I could only utter a soft .Larissa., and I can still remember the expression of her face when she recognized me too. We hugged for a few moments and then we hurried out of the airport. I finally met Oksana also who was waiting at the other exit, and mind you, this was about midnight already local time. So we boarded a car courtesy of Oksana.s service, and we headed to our hotel room, which is actually a rented high rise flat.
The next day, after Larissa and I got to really know each other, we toured Almaty because our flight to Karaganda was not leaving until late in the afternoon. Oksana arranged for a driver to give us a tour and to also act as an interpreter and bodyguard. His name was Sergei and he was very friendly and quite fluent in English. You can trust Sergei, and he first took us to a restaurant that had English menus. As a quick note, there are very few signs in English and also people who know how to speak it, so I suggest you arrange to have a tour guide thru Oksana as this will really help in a lot of things. Afterwards, we toured a wonderful park dedicated to WWII soldiers. There was also a beautful Orthodox Church in the park. This days was a Saturday in June and there were plenty of wedding groups having their pictures taken in the park. It was a very wonderful atmosphere, love was in the air, and I enjoyed looking at all the beautiful brides. The picture shown is Larissa and I in front of that church.
x36x After we left the park, Sergei drove us out of the city and up into the mountains. There were many people driving up into the mountains as I was a very hot day. It was about 90 degrees F that June, it was quite humid, much like a summer day in the east coast. High in the mountains were spectacular views, and a huge sport stadium! We parked our car by the stadium and hiked up the rest of the way. There were still many cars with wedding groups driving by , there was even one with the bride standing up thru the sun roof and waving to everybody. We reached the top part and there was this really high steps that had a wonderful view but I was the unfit American and Larissa had heels on so we passed on walking up that thousand steps.
Then, after we came down from the mountains, Sergei showed us the wonderful buildings of downtown Almaty. It used to be the capital of Kazakhstan, but since then the capital has been in Astana.
There many tall buildings and monuments, a lot of them are reminders of the country being under soviet control. A lot a concrete, communist style high rise buildings and apartments. Of interest are the buildings of the government, some expensive hotels, and President Naserbayev.s residence which they call the White House. Then we parked the car and hopped on a cable car, much like a ski lift, that headed high up into the mountains. As we rode the cable car you are surrounded by spectacular views of the city of Almaty, and in the distance you can see the snow capped mountains. At the top, we got off the cable car and there were plenty of restaurants that are located on the mountain side. Again, we saw more wedding groups having their photos taken. Then it almost time for our flight to Karaganda, and the cost of plane ticket is well worth the price because it is only an hour by plane instead of 18 hours by train. If your potential wife lives in Karaganda, I recommend taking the plane, Oksana can handle arranging the plane tickets. So we headed back downhill, and eventually we were dropped off at the airport.
Our flight to Karaganda took about an hour and a half. We were greeted at the airport in Karaganda by Dina, who is also very fluent in English. She had a taxi ready for us to take back into town, as the airport was outside the city limits. We were taken to the flat that the agency rents for its clients. I recommend staying there as the hotels are quite expensive, and the place itself is pretty nice. After a short rest, we got dressed as Larissa.s cousin had also gotten married that day and we were going to the wedding party. Now guys, you have to attend one of these parties, the food was great, I met Larissa.s whole family and they welcomed me into their family so readily. I had never been around so many wonderful and warm people. Even though we could not understand each other most of the time, somehow you can still communicate pretty well. And, since Larissa and her family are Russian, what.s a party without vodka? Well, I had to join in with their many, many toasts and shots of vodka. The vodka was excellent, and quite plenty. Her family was quite impressed because I could drink vodka with them. Then there was dancing and fun, and laughter the rest of the evening. We headed back into the flat, (we walked as the streets are quite safe although I don.t recommend walking by yourself),and rested. The next morning we took a taxi to go to Larissa.s house and have lunch with her family. We spent the morning there, and I gave Larissa.s family some gifts I had brought with me for them. Larissa and her family lived in a high rise apartment also, we were on the eighth floor. After lunch, we rented a taxi for the afternoon and she gave me a tour of her come city. I enjoyed it very much, as I was able to relate with her as how her life was in this city. It was quite cheap to rent the taxi for the afternoon. Later in the evening, guess what? It was part two of the wedding party from the previous evening. The Russians know how to party, well there was more food and of course more vodka. I got to know even more of Larissa.s family and friends. I liked everyone, they were all friendly and I.m sure if you visit you.ll be treated the same way too.
The next day, we had to fly back to Almaty as my flight was leaving early the next day. We arrived back in Almaty in the morning and Oksana took us swimming to a lake outside the city. We spent the rest of the day out there in the sun, enjoying the sun. Later that evening, Oksana took us back up the mountain where those hillside restaurants were. We had a wonderful dinner, with lots of food and drink and it was quite inexpensive. I tried to soak in the final moments I had with my fiancee as I knew I was leaving the next day. I could help but feel a little melancholy as I was experiencing so much joy of finding the woman of my dreams, but also knowing that I must leave her again so quickly. It was a very sad morning the following day as it was time for me to say goodbye and return to reality of life back in the states. I had never felt so sad in my life when I looked back as I headed inside the airport, and to see how sad my fiancee was. I tell you guys, if you ever want to experience true love, you will find it in Kazakhstan.
Well, this story does not end here. I completed the necessary paperwork for the I129 fiancee visa. To write about this whole process would take up so much space, I would just like to say that it is time consuming but not very hard process. Feel free to email me with questions about this matter. There are many details you need to know in order to have the process go as smoothly as possible. My e-mail address is email@example.com
. I am not an expert in the field of visas but I.ve read websites about this matter and I have filled out the forms myself without the help of a lawyer. I expect to get an answer this week (Oct. 11th,2000) regarding my application.
I do have a few tips to share about visiting Kazakhstan. Like I mentioned, try to book a flight that goes through Frankfurt Germany instead of Moscow. I have heard enough stories of delays and flight cancellations in Russia. If you plan to go in the summer, dress lightly as it is humid and there is very little air conditioning. I recommend that you bring your own bottled water as the tap water is not suitable for drinking, and mineral water is so salty. I spent the four days I was in Kazakhstan drinking coke and soda.
When you arrive the airport, make sure you declare all the money that you are carrying, to the last change. And no one speaks English at the airport, so they might ask you for something, and if you don.t understand they just give up and let you go though anyway. Book your flights early as there is a reall difference in price. Also, I really recommend going at least business class as the flight is real long. Might as well be comfortable. Don.t worry about cash, dollars are easy to exchange for tenge. There are plenty of exchange places but I don.t recommend doing it yourself. I had Oksana or Sergei do it for me. No use bringing credit cards, as few places take them. Take the taxi, as the bus system is very slow and hot, it is cheap enough anyway to go by taxi. The taxis themselves don.t have meters, usually the price for the fare is bargained before you get in. And I think the most important tip is enjoy yourself. This is a different world, especially for you Americans. The people are wonderful, the women are even more wonderful. Now I just got to know one woman, some of you may be writing to many women and then you try to decide when you meet them. I tell you that the choice would be difficult as there are many beautiful women, most of them with very high moral standards, not like the American women here. I am planning on visiting Kazakhstan again, this time to take my fiancee back with me to the States. I will be more ready this time, and like I said, if you.d like to ask me questions I.d be happy to try and help you as best as I could.
, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org