I moved to Almaty a few days before the bells rang in 2000 to start work as a translator in the tax department of Ernst & Young CIS. It was one of my better life decisions for all sorts of reasons, but the main one was the people. I made life-long friends there, even in such a short time, and I learned a lot about myself too. Living in a different county and different culture is very valuable, all the more so when it's for an extended period and you speak the language. 

Here I am in my first week with the tax auditors in the company's old office on Abai. It moved to bigger premises not long after that.

I was responsible for translating tax legislation and business correspondence from Russian into English and my tools were an old PC running Windows NT and Word 98 - no translation software in those days! My favourite hack was to run some primitive Text Expander moves with auto correct in Word, so when I typed LRK for example, it auto corrected to Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Smart, eh?

We took a work trip to Charyn Canyon one weekend and had the most amazing time. The canyon is spectacular and I highly recommend a visit there if you're ever in the Almaty area. It was featured in Long Way Round, when Ewan Macgregor and Charlie Boorman took their bikes down into the canyon and had some difficulty getting back out again! 



Chimbulak ski resort is just above Almaty and was a very popular weekend destination for my pals in the office. I don't ski, but I did go up with them one time and enjoy the apres ski lifestyle, including the great tradition of a naked sauna followed by a roll around in the snow. It was amazing! 


I took my guitar up and enjoyed some great food, drink and song. 

Reece's Leaving Do

Reece was a partner at the firm and my immediate boss. He left in the summer of 2000 and we had a leaving do for him up in the mountains with shashlyk and some wine and song. I had my guitar and it was a really fun night, made all the more so by my wife's being there to visit for a few weeks. 

Friends

It was the people that made the stay so enjoyable. I'm still friends with many of them after all these years and think of them often.