Unlike its more puritanical neighbors, Kazakhstan is fairly liberal when it comes to sex. It has Central Asia’s only gay bars and sex shops. Women, at least in the towns and cities, are given a lot of freedom. It’s not unusual to see tables of women in bars and cafes enjoying a few beers or vodkas. As with other former Soviet countries there is a lot of intermarriage between locals and foreigners. Pick-up joints in Almaty where you can meet locals include Soho, the Guinness pub and the Admiral Nelson.
A legacy from the Soviet times is rabbit-hutch sized apartments housing whole extended families. This has led to a number of ‘love hotels’ springing up where you can rent rooms by the hour. The sauna is another favored spot for taking your date to, or you can get naked, hot and sweaty with your friends there over a few bottles of vodka.
Bride kidnapping is still practised by Kazakhs. The girl is snatched to decrease the dowry payment, or for the groom to be sure of getting the girl without having to obtain her parents’ permission. Although there are cases of forced abduction, in many cases the bride and groom have cooked it up between them.