saved by the macaron

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Aktau was a fairly new town – like 19th/20th century new. Many buildings were from the 1960s and 70s, which meant they looked like this:

old buildings in Aktau

Sometimes they had little shops in them:

bridal shop

But there were also these fascinating ruins:

failed construction in Aktau

Was it an old madrasa, like the ones I had seen in Iran a few months earlier, and in Uzbekistan the year before that?

crumbling walls

I looked at the crumbling walls, and I began to wonder: from what time was it, why was it not open to the public, were there other ruins that had survived?

There were some strange details, though, like these stairs:


They led to a headless monument of what looked like it might have been an eagle once:

headless monument in Aktau

And in one place there was this arrow that looked a bit peculiar:


I wondered and I wondered, until in the end a worker lifted the shroud of mystery when he explained to me that these ruins were in fact not old at all. A few decades or so before someone had planned to build a mosque in this place, and they had failed. Their construction had started to crumble, and they had left it that way:

empty mosque

There was no mystery to it at all.

I didn’t stick around after that. Instead I went further west, to the new part of Aktau:

new part of Aktau

My friend Karlygash had a pastry shop there. It was called SteppeBird, and it served a bunch of tasty things:

Steppe Bird pastry shop

I ate two pieces of cake and a bunch of macarons that evening:


I think everyone knows by now that I love cake.

But I really fucking love macarons.


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