Foreign woman staying at Kazakh Male Friend’s house ok?

Hi, I’m planning to go visit my friend who is a Kazakh male (I’m a white foreign female) and he’s invited me to stay with him at his place. It will just be the two of us, we are both now single and it will likely be a romantic/intimate catch up (we used to date - in another country). I was wondering however if me staying with him is ok in the eyes of the law in Kazakhstan and also if it’s culturally acceptable to do so. I don’t want to get into any sort of trouble or cross any lines. The places will be both in Almaty and also in a smaller town in a country area. Also, can you please tell me if public affection in KZ is ok or not (holding hands, hugging, kissing). Thanks!

Should not be a problem in Almaty, public displays of affection are common, but perhaps it needs to be age appropriate and not too overt.

Perhaps just act normally?

Little village? ... hmmm ...

Thanks NucMed for your reply. So you think staying with him in the country town could be a problem? It not against the law there is it? I know it would be in some countries. He’s Muslim also and I’m not, not sure if that would change anything. His ex wife and kids also live in the country area ( I’ve never met them). I don’t want to cause any problems, he seems to think it’s ok though. I can’t wait to see him though!

Not really a problem, more try to act normally, not overtly. Hand holding, just fine, all over each other, well, not so much.

Whilst Kazakhstan is a Muslim nation, it is not generally so "observant", so unless the family is particularly observant/strict, then there should be little problem.

Kazakh people are generally welcoming (despite the appearance of the border guards), but the country tends to a conservative bent, so what might be fine in Oxford Street on Saturday morning at 0100hrs, would not be acceptable in a small village.

Use common sense, watch how local couples your age act.

Thanks again NucMed, I really appreciate it. Will definitely act more on the conservative side when out in public, just in case.

Oh, and if you are going in the next few months, make sure you have appropriate clothing and footwear (ice on the pavements and roads is a particular problem with many hospitalisations and worse every year) for the weather and conditions.

You don't say where you are going (apart from Almaty), but I'm guessing you'll enter KZ at Astana (if coming by Etihad) and there the temperature can drop to -40C (Almaty, around -20C) but out in some of the villages and in the city I live, it can drop to around -55C.

Make sure you have base layers, socks, suitable gloves and scarf, ushanka optional, but definitely some headgear. Silk base layers are good, cashmere for socks and lining for gloves. Nothing worse than standing waiting for the bus or marshrutka and the pain of cold fingers and toes sapping your will to live.

I’m not going until spring next year, don’t think I could handle those winter temperatures! Wow I didn’t realise it got down to -55C in country areas. I am also planning to fly into Almaty rather than Astana. I was going to fly from Syd to BKK (overnight there) then onto Almaty the next day to help break up the journey. How much would you budget for a 3 week holiday there? I suppose I should take conservative clothing too.

Spring? You need to be careful (again, depending on where you are) with clothing but this time, mostly because of ticks (encephalitis, haemorrhagic fever and Lyme disease) and fleas carrying Y. pestis, the plague bacteria.

Don't accept any meat that has come from marmots or gerbils (carriers of Y. pestis) and don't get close to them and be tempted to pat them.

Resist the temptation to wander around in shorts when at dachas in forest areas, ticks just love to bite.

Depending on what you are likely to be doing, it can be quite cheap (if you stick to local cuisine) and as you, I guess, are not having the cost of a hotel, that will be quite a saving. However, if you are going to want to have some foods or standard items you have back in Australia, you will be having quite a lot of sticker shock (they have Australian berries ... gawd knows why, the local ones are fantastic).

Fuel is quite cheap, so pay for that for your hosts, perhaps some simple Australia specific presents too, Kazakhs love kangaroos, koalas et cetera.

Perhaps AU$2 000? Go to a bankomat (ATM) and take your money from there (Sberbank is one of the bigger banks  and there's one on the arrivals level in Almaty airport to your left when you come out, it's green coloured), don't try to use a money exchange).

I read somewhere that there are ticks there. I saw on the travel doctor website there’s a vaccine for ticks, do you think it would be effective against them? Lyme disease and the others you mentioned sound quite scary. I could postpone I suppose to go at a better time. When do you think is the best time/month to visit? My friend said there’s holidays in the first week of May.
Do workers get much annual leave there? Is it like here, we get 20 days a year?

I’d like to try have the local food, it’s all part of the experience!

I’ve never heard of those animals you mentioned, I’ll have to google them! Thanks for the tips. Have you been there long?

"I saw on the travel doctor website there’s a vaccine for ticks, do you think it would be effective against them?"

Yes, it's effective, but you would probably be better off avoiding those areas or if you are hell-bent on being in them, apply insect repellent directly to your skin and spraying your clothing too.

There's not any point postponing a trip for those reasons, because there's really no "better time", all seasons will have their challenges.

In Almaty, there are problems with temperature inversions trapping chemical smog over the city (you'll see the layer if you fly in during daylight hours) mostly from coal and woodburning fires that people have in their dachas and the thermal power plants.

"Do workers get much annual leave there?"

It varies, part of it depends on where (geographically) you work and the sort of work you do. Similarly, pension ages and rates. Because of the region I am in East Kazakhstan, being the region the former CCCP exploded more than 470 nuclear weapons over a 40 year period, my partner used to receive 40 days per year, others not in that region received between 10 and 20.

There are many "state" holidays, but generally only the chinovniks in government get those, most people work every day they can just to get by.

"I’d like to try have the local food ..."

Hope you like tinned horse and mad squirrel vodka (pity I can't add photos) ... other dishes are also available ... just a warning about "cakes" ... they tend to be made almost entirely of mock cream, so basically margarine and sugar mixed together, very little pastry.

Oh and mayonnaise, it seems to appear in everything, but that's more a former Tsarist obsession continued on into the CCCP-era and the post CCCP-era.

"Have you been there long?"

I've been here since 2012.

Thanks again for all that. I really appreciate your time and helping me out!  Ah yes, I know horse meat is one of their national dishes. That one I may pass on. I’ve already tried horse milk with my friend once many years ago. I won’t deliberately go into tick infested areas but I suppose the vaccine could be good preventative measure just in case.
Sorry, another question, this time regarding Kazakhs getting a tourist visa for Australia - have any of your friends been through the process of getting one? If so, is it about $140AUD and do they need to send their passport to the Australian Embassy in Moscow for it to be processed?
You’ve been there for quite a while! It looks like quite a beautiful country and east meets west.

The 600 subclass tourist visa is AU$140, at least when I last did three in June this year and the visa is electronic, so there is no need to send the passport to Moscow.

They need to make sure that when they apply, they include as much information regarding where they will be having accommodation, previous visas they have held and or currently hold as well as financial details. Cash doesn't count, which is a problem for many in KZ because that is how many are paid ...

I have heard of many refused visas because of not enough information regarding where they intend to stay when they come to Australia.

Sometimes the visa grant can take some time, I've had them through overnight a couple of times, other times, up to a month. Sometimes granted for a year, other times, just the duration of the trip as delineated by the airline tickets ...

That’s good the visa is electronic, makes things a lot easier. Sounds quite random as to how long it takes to process too but I saw the maximum is around a month. Thanks for all your help :)

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