The Globejotting Travel Show on Expat Radio

Episode 3: Kirsten Koza on Kazakhstan and Her 1977 Summer Camp Trip to the USSR

Air Date: January 2, 2018 ~ Replay January 9

The Globejotting Travel Show is a new program hosted by travel writer and award-winning humorist Dave Fox. It streams on the first Tuesday and second Monday of each month on Expat Radio, an English-language Internet radio station based in France.

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A “ghost ship” rusts in a puddle of water that used to be the Aral Sea. (Photo: Kirsten Koza)

Canadian travel humorist Kirsten Koza joins us to talk about her recent travels in Kazakhstan, where she was on a quest to discover “ghost ships,” rusting in the desert where the Aral Sea used to exist. She also tells us about naked wrestling on horses in Kyrgyzstan.

In part two of the program, Kirsten then shares anecdotes from her hilarious travel memoir, Lost in Moscow: A Brat in the USSR, about her 1977 experience at a Young Communist League summer camp in the Soviet Union when she was 11 years old.

We also listen to a tune from one of Kazakhstan’s hottest boy bands and learn about Boris Grebenshikov, one of the founding fathers of Soviet era rock and roll.

Program Notes

Kirsten Koza

Travel writer and humorist Kirsten Koza.

Kirsten Koza is a travel and humor writer from Ontario, Canada.

  • Her memoir, Lost in Moscow: A Brat in the USSR, tells the hilarious story of her 1977 experience (at age 11) when her grandmother sent her to a Young Communist League summer camp in the Soviet Union.
  • Kirsten has edited the Travelers’ Tales anthology of hilarious travel mishaps, Wake Up and Smell the Shit. (This book includes a story by Dave Fox about the night he slept in a shipping container in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.)
  • For the Perceptive Travel website, Kirsten has written The Mountain Men Who Don’t Exist in Kyrgyzstan, the story of a scary encounter she had near a uranium-contaminated lake.
  • She also offers travel writing workshops and food tours in a variety of locations including England,  Romania, Vietnam, and Cambodia. You can learn more about Kirsten’s writing and her tours on her website –


Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

Kirsten recommends two travel companies for guiding in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. She writes:

  • Horse racing at a “kok boru” tournament in Kyrgyzstan. If you click the photo to enlarge it, you will notice that the front horseman is carrying a sheep carcass, trying to get it across the other team’s endzone. (Photo by Kirsten Koza.)

    Offroad Tour Kyrgyzstan (who drove me from Kyrgyzstan through Kazakhstan): Alexey Drozdov is an extreme off-road driver and racer. His English is top notch as when he grew up Soviet in Kyrgyzstan, his parents were rebels who only spoke to him in English as a baby. He showed up at kindergarten only speaking English – which was awkward for him to say the least. He is also former Soviet Army. You can well imagine how interesting that makes him as a travel companion and how expert too. (Bring an extra liver for the food and vodka.)

  • Another “ghost ship” rusts in the desert where the Aral Sea used to be. (Photo by Kirsten Koza.)

    Travel Experts KyrgyzstanIf you want to be cared for and have a trip catered and customized to your every whim and desire – Sergey Gluhoverov at Travel Experts Kyrgyzstan is the Man of the Stans! But at the same time you can rent a top notch Land Cruiser from Sergey and do it on your own. I’d talk to this man before I did anything there (no matter which nation, as he has contacts) and have been doing so since 2010.

  • Kirsten mentions a competition known as kok boru, in which two teams on horses score points by carrying a sheep carcass across an endzone. You can read more about the game in an article about kok boru from Smithsonian Magazine, and read lots more about Kyrgyzstan on Kirsten’s blog.


aral sea

Aerial photos of the Aral Sea in 1989 (left) and 2014 (right) show how the sea has turned to desert. (Photo courtesy of NASA.)


Musical Selections

  • Boris Grebenshikov. (Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0, courtesy of Boris Grebenshikov.)

    Rin’go  is a boy band from Kazakhstan. Learn more about them on their Facebook page.

  • Boris Grebenshikov is considered one of the founding fathers of Soviet era rock and roll. You can read his biography on Wikipedia and follow his Facebook page.
  • Links to videos by Rin’go and Boris Grebenshikov will be available here soon!


Stories and Suggestions Wanted!

Dave wants to make his show as interactive as possible … and he needs your help! If you’ve got suggestions for program topics or guests, travel questions, or amazing travel tales of your own that you’d like to share on a future episode, you can e-mail Dave here.

And hey … even if you aren’t bursting with immediate, brilliant ideas, Dave would love to hear from you. Drop him an e-mail, tell him who you are, where you’re listening from, and anything else you feel like sharing.


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