One of the most usual forms of transportation in Almaty is the private taxis. Normally in Kazakhstan, any car can be a taxi. Private taxis are cheaper than company taxis and you can pretty much hail them everywhere.
For me, I normally need a taxi when I need to head to Mega Center or when I want to go home from my gym, which is near Mega Center. The taxi companies in front of Mega always want 700 Tenge ($4.66 USD) for a trip to my apartment complex. I just walk down the road and hail a private taxi for 500 Tenge ($3.33 USD). They always want 700 Tenge but I get them down to 500 Tenge. If I was not busy during the day, I could get 300 Tenge.
Normally I speak Kazakh with the taxi drivers. The first thing they usually ask me is if I am Turkish. Most Kazakhs think I am from Turkey. When I speak Kazakh, it tends to throw them off. Then I tell them I am an American which makes the conversation interesting. They then ask me how I learned Kazakh. This brings me to the story of how I lived in Karatau for 2 years. It is really a good conversation.
Two taxi drivers, all Kazakhs, told me they had sisters living in the US. Another two talked about how bad work was in Almaty which is why they drive taxis. Today, my taxi driver told me that he wanted to work in the US or Canada. He asked me if there were jobs there. I told them probably not and suggested he try Australia. He seemed very interested. He told me he wanted to make $2000 USD per month but could only get $500 USD in Almaty. Sadly, that amount would make it difficult to live in this city now since it has gotten quite expensive.
I am thinking about writing a photo book on the conversations I have with taxi drivers here. This makes Almaty a great city to live in if you want to learn Kazakh. 🙂