Time Travel through Kazakhstan
Project info

It's almost midnight. Infinite darkness is passing by the window. The monotonous rattling of the train whirls me evenly across the steppes of Central Asia. The accompanying air smells of cooked food and the vapours of dozens of passengers. Sounds emanate from various corners of the carriages and reach me: A sawing snore, children's screams, folk music and a hyperactive radio voice. It is the beginning of my two and a half week journey by train across Kazakhstan.

Only a few days before I looked at the country on a world map and wondered how one can move in these infinite expanses. After a short research I found out that the national railway company is the biggest employer in the country. However, the rail network is only 16,000 kilometres long - far shorter than that of Germany, although the area of Kazakhstan is the same as that of the whole of Central Europe. 

For this story I locked myself up in Kazakh railway carriages for almost three weeks. The longer the distance, the better. Each ride on one of the predominantly slow trains from the Soviet heritage offers a kind of microcosm and is filled with characters from all social and cultural backgrounds, while the nostalgic ambience blends with modern life in a delightful way. This is a journey back in time through the stories of the people, the history of the country and the endless romance in the railways.