Like our wine drinking habits we continue to seek out the bargains in other activities here in KZ. For our taste, resorts are getting out of control in KZ like so much other wealth-driven pursuits; we simply won’t spend 30,000 KZ Tenge to relax. Yelexsiy was a diamond in the rough and we only hope it stays that way. We aren’t interested in lux massage with coffee ground/sour cream facials (yuk!); our goal is to find relaxation in a natural setting. This is the best we’ve found so far in KZ.
Yelexsiy is about 40 Kilometers from Almaty. The resort has a maritime theme; somehow they pull this off, though the “ship” is a bit down in the tooth. We stayed in an old Soviet army command trailer sitting about 100 feet “inland” from the ship. It had been rewired and insulated and rechristened “Captain’s Quarters”. It was the only 2 room space on the property. It would be a stretch to call it a suite but it had two rooms and we were warm sleeping on army issue thin mats over a plywood bed frame with incredibly heavy blankets. The rest of the rentable space at Yelexsiy was a hodge-podge of outrageous construction that would never pass code in the States, but works fine out here in rural KZ. The ship I spoke of has cabins as well. It is in “dry dock” at present, being outfitted for the summer. It sits next to a great mountain stream that comes alive in the summer months. You can image the ship being anchored next to the stream. Right now we are on the tail end of winter and THE main attraction is skiing and snow boarding. The main run that curves so dangerously into the main barbecue area is shared by both skiers and boarders alike. The experts consider the slower neophytes only a new obstacle to go around. Sophie learned to ski in one afternoon and was looking pretty confident. Not as confident as a 7 year old girl who skied down the hill without poles. She was an inspiration to Sophie and to Nadia who we will get going skiing next season. The main run down to the lodge is short; maybe 3 minutes from where you disconnect from the cable line. But here are two wonderful upper ski areas that are simply breathtaking; one is a roughing-it run in the upper mountains away from the lodge. I think you take your life in your hands to ski this with rocks, hidden shrubs – it is totally un-groomed but it is a favorite for experts.
During the evening, we did kabobs on the grill. One of Sophie’s co-worker girl friends from Deloitte and her beau were there as well. We shared food, having a picnic at about a minus 15°C. My father-in-law calls this extreme living “KIFE” or the rush of life; what fun. We ate well; I was drinking Guinness Stout, not having to worry about it getting too warm.
I can’t forget the flies – our suite has a group of lazy flies that somehow have survived the winter hiding out in the trailer. When it’s occupied and heated they start moving a little faster, thinking its summer again. The best way to characterize our accommodation is to compare it to an old western bunk house; incredibly Spartan but full of charm and proximity to the skiing action.
The bottom line: We spent 6,000 Kaz Tenge for the suite, a two hour Russian banya and use of the BBQ area AND it included Sophie’s ski instruction plus 3 hours of lift time after the one hour lesson. She is a fast learner. This is about $50.00-US per day. Our only extra was pony rides for Nadia. Pony rides also doubled as a taxi to go the last 1.5 kilometers to reach Yelexsiy. The roads are so icy even 4 wheel drive vehicles can’t get there. You walk in or take a horse taxi. A new photo gallery is included.