smogAir pollution is a serious problem in Almaty. A few days after our arrival in the city, my throat started to feel soar and irritated and then I almost completely lost my voice for a week. The air pollution is visible, especially when you look down on the city from the Tien shan mountains. In addition, you smell the pollution strongly when walking through the city. The car exhausts smell differently from at home. It is clear that the cars are not just running on regular gasoline or diesel. We were told that the petrol has a low octane level (lower than 95) and that cheap additives from China are added. After having left Almaty for a few days my voice slowly returned. Upon arrival in Astana a few days later, we were met by a huge sand storm when we left the train station. Visibility was reduced and for almost 2 km we fought against the dust and sand in our eyes while we walked with our big backpacks to our hotel. Was this just a sand storm or was smog also involved? At least the pollution in Astana is not as bad as in Almaty. Almaty is located in a valley, bordered by the Tien shan mountains to the south. As a result, the air pollution remains trapped in the city, while Astana is surrounded by vast steppes. Maybe the time has come for Kazakhstan to tackle the status of King Car and the booming car business?

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