November 6, 2006

The coolest thing about real Kazakhs

While lots of people hunt with falcons, Kazakhs also hunt with huge golden eagles. Stephen Bodio wrote about it in The Atlantic, and here's his book Eagle Dreams. By the way, here's what he has to say about the capital of Kazakhstan:

Sometimes it is very hard to convey the realities of Central Asia. People can just about get the idea of what remote parts of Mongolia are like-- they like the idea of "primitive".

But what about Almaty? It is a huge modern city with tree-lined boulevards and excellent restaurants and cyber-cafes, situated in the green foothills beween 14,000 foot peaks and steppes like the plains of Wyoming. It is inhabited by Kazakhs and Russians living in enviable harmony (and often intermarrying), Germans, Moslems, Orthodox Christians and Orthodox Jews. What's more, as a Russian friend says, "you can take public transport to snow leopards".

And the town is inhabited, thronged, by incredibly beautiful and stylish women. Everyone in the US seems to think Central Asian women look like East German Athletes or Stalinist WW II vets-- it ain't so! Renato Sala, an irreverent Italian archaeologist based in Almaty, once said to us through clouds of Gauloise smoke that " Kazakhstan has the MOST beautiful women-- Stalin or Chingizz or somebody must have killed all the ugly ones!" Only an Italian.

Dress is interesting too. Libby thought to bring "Cover Up" clothes in deference to both what we thought were local mores and to the season, but it was still hot (early September) and the local women were dressed in bare midriffs and slit skirts and very high heels.

And, if you want to know what Kazakhstan's models look like, here are photos from Fashion Week in Almaty. But I suspect women don't really dress like that in Kazakhstan.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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