Before you ask, it’s keer-giz-STAN – Yes, Kyrgyzstan. And it’s also fantastic. Trek the wilderness, dine on pumpkin dumplings and sleep in a yurt in this unexpectedly wonderful Central Asian destination. I landed in Bishkek, the capital and largest city of Kyrgyzstan, on 21 August 2018 at 5:30 pm. It was just four hours journey from Delhi, but it appeared stretched as turbulences kept occurring throughout. At one point in time, it was so vicious that I was almost indubitable that my Plane would fall down. My sports watch kept sending me cautionary signs that my heartbeat was above normal.
A Kyrgyz guy sitting next to me informed me that this is quite normal when you are above Kyrgyzstan as this region is full of colossal mountains that lead to a short of winds which stumbles the running planes.
Well, I did not comprehend his rationality very well as my geography is very poor. I just nodded to his elucidation, notwithstanding the fear I was in. I still kept looking down from the window at the striking mountains reaching above the clouds.
I am in Bishkek currently and trying to adapt myself to it. Experiencing a number of strange things like drinking mare’s milk for the first time in my life. I learned that it is very famous in Kyrgyzstan, and some consider it as a national drink. The taste is quite similar to our “Matha”. It was an amazing experience although I had nausea whole day after finishing two glasses.
Yes, you come across a number of glitches when you are in the country whose language you don’t fathom. Problem is accelerated enough when you can’t even read.
Once I bought kefir “salted lassi” instead of milk just because I got muddled with the name. So, I better recommend that you must learn basic names of daily-used-items in the local language or otherwise you have to leave your home without milk tea the following morning.
However, the good thing about Kyrgyzstan, there is an enormous section of the people who can speak Turkish, and since I know Turkish it is somehow handy for me. When you are jammed on the streets, you just express yourself either in English or Turkish, I am sure that one will work in most circumstances. Being multilingual will always help you bumping into a foreign culture.
This is the first time when I am here to live for long in Central Asia in broad-spectrum and Kyrgyzstan precisely. This is going to be my 4th destination after turkey, England and the Philippines where I will be devoting more than a year and I wonder how this will be a different experience altogether.
Many people are wondering about my decision about coming to Kyrgyzstan. Well, they are right as this region is somehow “hidden”, not a plethora of people know it very well.
A Kyrgyz friend of mine said, since “Tan” is added with the name, it attracts fewer tourists despite it has more than what other tourist spots offer, “it should have been Kyrgyzia added by him.”
Well, it is officially recognized as the Kyrgyz Republic. Bishkek is host to many medical students from the Indian subcontinent. In fact, my plane was half boarded with Indian teenagers carrying medical books.
Majority of the population in Bishkek is Muslim but unlike other Islamic Countries it is a home to an open-minded and Westernized culture, you can find streets are full of bars and restaurants, as well as a large expat and digital nomad communities. In the lap of Bishkek: Ala-Too Square is the biggest touristic destination.
You can find hundreds of overseas restaurants there. I was invited to have dinner at the Turkish restaurant which is the first Turkish one owned by a Kyrgyz.
One of my friends expressed nostalgia for the settled times of the good old Soviet Union. Unlike most other post-Soviet countries, Kyrgyzstan has not removed the statues of Lenin but merely kept them discreetly to less prominent positions.
Additionally, Kyrgyzstan is part of the Silk Road, so why I am talking about its mountains and not ancient monuments? That’s a good interrogation. Unfortunately, very few buildings remain from that time but the fine-looking Burana Tower is one of them.
The Kyrgyz people were conventionally a nomadic race, which is why there are not that many bygone buildings here, but there are a lot of exquisite natures and one of the most interesting things for me is experiencing the nomadic lifestyle and culture which I am all set to explore in days to come. Also, As an Indian, I am amazed at how much space there is in Bishkek.
The population is only 1 million people and the population of the whole country is only about 6 million. Well, it will be too early to announce that Kyrgyz people are really genuine and very friendly. Like the most Soviet countries, you find Kyrgyz people are less-smiley. It is not like what I experienced in Turkey, Manila, and other Asian countries.