Friday, January 30, 2015

Kazakhstan Car Nut Interview

From regular commenter Sanchez. Thanks, man!

1. Russia and China are both trying to influence Kazakhstan economically. Who is winning? Who will win?

Both countries have their influence over my country and I am sure both are winning in their own way. Russia has political power, our government's support and big market almost exclusively used by Russian companies. China has shares in oil business and other natural resource extracting projects so they get them at a very good price.

2. What are some wonderful things about your country that the West does not know about?

Kazakhstan nation divided in three big groups - Southern, Western and Northern. This division comes from Kazakh tribalism. Kazakhs have three big divisions called "zhuz" - Great zhuz, Middle zhuz and Junior zhuz (South, North and West respectively). Each of these groups is slightly different and has cultural / mentality differences which quite often can be seen through communication. 

Often people from one division / part of the country think they are the best ones and behave arrogant. Also sometimes this way of thinking can be crucial when you are getting a job, etc. But most modern people think that this system should be an anachronism and just a part of history.

Also, Kazakhstan is multinational. During years of WW2, factory evacuations from Ukraine / Russia, years of Soviet collectivization, people of different nationalities moved to Kazakhstan (Kazakh SSR at that time). So it is a melting pot quite like USA with every nation having influence on today's Kazakhstan culture.

3. I read that Russia is building a cosmodrome in the Russian Far East. Is the Baikonur Cosmodrome in danger of closing?

I will try to describe with my poor knowledge of subject. As far as I know the best trajectory of rocket launch is the one closest to equator. So even if Russia builds cosmodrome in Siberia or Far East, Baikonur still will be the best option. They are building this new cosmodrome to be more independent if there will be a tension in relationships between two countries which is very unlikely in the near future. Just my opinion.

4. Kazakhstan is an oil-rich country. How is the country handling the low oil prices? Is the oil in your country cheap to extract like Saudi Arabia?

Again poor knowledge of subject. Oil here is not as cheap to extract as in Middle East but very profitable. Some oil projects suffer from poor engineering such as Kashagan where oil extraction was postponed by one or two years because it needed reconstruction before it even started working.

Petrol prices have dropped by 15% approximately in past 2-3 months. But they should have been dropped even more.

5. If someone wanted to travel to your country for fun, where would you recommend that they visit?

Definitely Almaty city. I love it. It has very cool fusion of West and East, Capitalism and Soviet Communism legacy and is very green. Mountain view from the city is a sight to see. Nature surrounding Almaty is the most lavish and picturesque in entire country. 

Also Caspian Sea region for surreal landscapes and Altay mountains region in Eastern Kazakhstan. I have not been there to be honest but very eager to see.

Nature in Central region where I am from is scant. It is mostly plain steppes. But they have this very unique feeling to them and would be essential to visit to understand Kazakh culture I think.

For architecture I would suggest to go to... Uzbekistan. Which I also have not been to but it is one of my top destinations to go. Remember Kazakhs are nomads and mostly lived in moveable houses called "yurta". So not many historical buildings and even most of those are not as beautiful as those in Uzbekistan. 

6. What are popular cars now in Kazakhstan, in the cities and in the countryside?

Toyota is considered by many to be Kazakhstan national car. Corolla, Camry, Prado, Land Cruiser, RAV4, Lexus GS, ES, LS, RX, LX, GX of all generations are extremely common here.

But Hyundai and specially Kia are becoming very popular thanks to Kazakhstan assembly. They assemble all types of Kia here: from Picanto to K9 Quoris, from Cerato Coupe to Mohave.

Mercedes is another very popular car brand. Many W124, W201, W202, W210, W211, W212, W140, W221. G-Wagen is some kind of cult here. 

Other popular cars are BMW E34, E38, E39, all gens of X5, Audi 80, 100, A6, Mitsubishi Lancer, Outlander, Pajero, Delica, Chevrolet Cruze, all gens of Golf and Passat, Skoda Octavia, Superb.

And of course all models of Lada.

In countryside you will see lots of Nivas, UAZ and old Moskvitch / AZLK cars.

7. What is the state of car culture in your country now?

Many young guys are quite obsessed with cars. It is not only commute instrument but also a status sign, a good friend, an investment. All in one at the same time.  So car culture is present I would say.

There are not many car exhibitions or events going on. But there is development of motorsport. They showed 2014 Moto GP and F1 seasons last year on TV. There is a new race track near Almaty which is suitable for major International race series except for F1. Kazakhstan racer finished 9th overall in 2015 Dakar. Red Bull did Formula 1 show with David Coulthard in Almaty last summer. 

8. What kind of cars have you owned?

My first and only car so far - Mitsubishi Lancer X 2.0 CVT.

9. Tell us about your diecast collection. How many cars do you have? What scale? Any themes?

I have scale car models in 1:43, 1:18 and 1:12 scales. My main focus is 1:18. The collection was growing very fast to the point it has become sort of hoarding. I am focused now and selling little by little. More than 150 models in all scales at the moment.

My main theme is motorsport. Most of my collection in 1:18 is 1950 - 1990 legendary race cars.

In 1:43 I have renntransporter theme and Safari rally theme.

Quite a few models that don't fit any theme.

10. Why do you love cars?

As many big questions I can't just answer it. As long as i can remember I was a car nut. From the age of 4 or 5 I have been reading car magazines / catalogues. I want to work in car industry.


Nickmix01 said...

Some years ago I live not far from Almaty(Alma-Ata) - in Bishkek? capital of Kirghizstan. Amazing nature and people!

Sanchez said...

Thanks for being interested in my humble persona, Jim. Hope it was an interesting interview for you as well.

Maxichamp said...

@Sanchez: Thank you. It was very interesting!

mtc said...

The JPS M3 and the SM Breadvans are amazing!

Question from me: how did you get your name/nickname :-)

Maxichamp said...

@MTC: I'm gonna see those two breadvans next week!!!

Sanchez said...

@mtc: Thanks! My name is Sanzhar and when I studied in Europe my foreign friends started calling me Sanchez.

@Jim: Please take few photos of SM Proto Michelin when you are there!

mtc said...

Mystery solved :-)

PS: that sounds like a very Western thing to do ("'Sanzhar' is too hard to pronounce").