I found this blurb about Almaty here where a professor describes a three week trip he took with some students last year. Doesn't this make you want to come visit next spring?
"But then there was the magic of the place. There were, for instance, Almaty’s “random taxis,” where you stick out your hand and, voila, some guy happening by in an old Lada or somesuch with an invariably cracked windshield stops to whisk you away (with the help of hand-signals and mumbled Russian). There was the city’s Green Market, an immense bazaar where you can buy just about anything. There was Panfilov Park, a gorgeous island of green that commemorates 28 Almaty soldiers who died fighting Nazis (immense memorials, including an eternal flame that brides and grooms pose near on weekends).
Almaty, the financial center and biggest city in the country, is a pedestrian-friendly place of tony shops, nice parks and rising new apartment towers. A leafy, cool place that stretches downward from the snow-covered Tian Shan mountains, the city was great for a morning run. It’s a busy town. It is home to the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE), the most visible sign of the nascent capitalism that could – if managed well – turn the country into a substantial regional force." - Joe Weber.