It is a little known fact but like many cities in the World Pattaya has a sister. The sister is called Shymkent and is capital of South Kazakhstan with a history that dates back to the 12th Century. The city is by no means small with 2014 figures showing a population of around 855,000 making Pattaya the younger and certainly the smaller sister. In fact Shymkent is actually the 3rd most populated in all of Kazakhstan.
Shymkent is located 690km west of the capital Almaty and is a major railroad junction on the Turkestan-Siberia Railway and also has an international airport. The city has a largely continental climate meaning that it encounters hot, dry summers and cold winters with temperatures in January averaging just -1 degrees Celsius. July is the hottest month with average temperatures reaching nearly 33 degrees Celsius.
As mentioned the city dates back to the 12th Century and was originally built to protect the Silk Road town of Sayram which is situated just 10km to the east. It has been destroyed several times by notable parties such as Genghis Khan, soldiers from the southern khanate and by other nomad attacks. Its history includes being captured by the Russians in 1864 and just this year (2015) an application was made to UNESCO for Shymkent to be recognized as an ancient city.
There are a number of attractions in the city including Victory and Central Parks, the Museum of Repression, the Afghan War Memorial, Al-Farabi Square and the Ordabasy Circle which is the site of Friday Mosque and MIG Memorial. For those looking for shopping the city naturally has a huge shopping centre! In the computer game Command and Conquer: Generals, Shymkent is the starting point for the GLA counterattack by destroying the Chinese. The city is also home to Superleague side FC Ordabasy.
Shymkent has a number of other sister cities including Stevenage in England, Izmir in Turkey, Adana in Turkey and Grosseto in Italy to name just a few. The city is rapidly expanding and looking to play a larger role on the World stage and perhaps sees these sister countries as helping to provide that opportunity.