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Dating & Romance

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.

Paul Bartlett

Paul Bartlett was born in southern England in 1962. After graduating in 1985 with a degree in Cultural Studies he spent the next 5 years or so working in a series of dead-end temporary jobs in London in order to finance trips around Europe. Then he hit upon the idea of teaching English as a means of combining making money with travel. Since 1992 he has lived in Greece, Czech Republic, Russia, Spain, Uzbekistan and now Kazakhstan, where he lives with his partner, Jo, who is similarly afflicted with the travel bug. In that time he has traveled all over the former Soviet Union and ventured into China, India and Thailand. He has been writing about his travels for the last 5 years. He is an easy-going individual who sees work as a means to provide the money for future trips to obscure parts of Asia. He is currently trying to adjust the work-life balance more in favour of life, having tired of working full time for other people.