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Kazakhstan: Where the “h” is that? Part Two
By Clare Novak
Posted on 12/17/2018 1:51 PM


Kazak^stan:  Where the “h” is that?


Iconic Reflecting Sphere on the Expo Grounds.

Part 2

This post is a continuation of the guest blog published in the prior newsletter. Briefly, Clare Novak was invited by the UN Development Program (UNDP) to present on “Women in Traditional Electric Utilities” at the Capacity Building Workshop on “Promoting clean and affordable energy to empower women.” Clare spent three days in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan for the World Petroleum Council Conference.

Monday: Day 2

“Promoting clean and affordable energy to empower women” was Monday afternoon. The introductions and short speeches were done first, mine “Women in Traditional Electric Utilities” included. The presentations by the Central Asian women on conditions in their countries in regard to energy access and women’ economic empowerment were fascinating to me. Of all, it seemed Tajik women suffered the most. While Kazakhstan is a rather free society, Tajikistan is suffering under Islamists. Kazakh women enjoy equal access to education and jobs, however Tajik women are losing theirs.

After the conference closed for the day, I tried a new restaurant. Rumi served local cuisine. Lagman proved to be spicy, beef vegetable soup with noodles, if by noodles you mean spaghetti length egg noodles with three times the diameter. The broth was red, most likely from chili oil, and less than in a traditional soup. I pronounce it good.

Welcome characters from the 2017 Expo. They represent Solar, Green and Hydro Power


The student competition presentations at the conference were thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring. Eight university teams competed for a grant to take their work from beta stage to production. Each project focused on improving a component of the energy field. They did everything from developing algorithms to improve smart metering to wave energy generation. 

Lunch was when the networking evolved and we had a mix of nationalities at our table. The Kazakh women insisted we try the local delicacy appetizers. Never wanting to disappoint the host, I tasted before asking. Sometimes it’s better not to know. The one item I recognized as beef tongue and I’m ok with that. The other was a dark red/brown slice of sausage. It was rather dry with a beefish flavor. “Ish” is key as I later learned it was horse. Horse is common in Kazakhstan. 

The afternoon presentations were highly technical and so by the evening’s reception, everyone was ready to party. It was great fun to talk with people. Goran, a professor from Serbia, was fun, as were the Russian ladies. We had such fun that the Russians invited us to stay for their reception which followed the main reception. They had a cake to celebrate 60 years of the Russian Petroleum Council and, of course, vodka toasts. 

By the time it ended, I wondered if it was even worth trying to sleep, as I needed to leave for the airport at 2 am. I attempted to nap but found that a vain wish. Ultimately, I alternated sleeping with movies in between, both on the flight from Astana to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Philly. Landed in Philly at 4 pm and drove directly to King of Prussia. At the Microsoft store, I handed them my apparently dead laptop and, of course, it booted right up. Computers are evil. 

Expo Hall, Astana

Clare Novak is an international speaker, author and consultant. Her work and personal travel have taken her to 45 States and 35 countries. Her international work began in Egypt and has since taken her to some less commonly visited countries, including Georgia, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Macedonia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine. Her travel website is  


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