To Bishkek Kyrgystan

Bishkek Travel Blog

 › entry 20 of 30 › view all entries
Lenin Bishkek Kyrgystan

We took the 8am China Southern Boeing 757 flight from Urumqi China into Bishkek Kyrgyzstan.  As we headed through customs/immigration/departure tax/airport construction tax we booked our luggage onto the flight.  We looked across at the neighbouring flight and it was for Kabul in Afghanistan.

Education ministry Bishkek Kyrgystan
  We wanted to take a look at those taking this flight as it may have been their last. 

 

It is amazing to watch how different countries react to different situations and this is the same for the attitude of people taking a ride on a passenger plane.  The attitude here from people was to take on board more luggage than what you could possibly place in the cargo hold of the plane.  The thought of purchasing some doll dressed in either a sky blue or light pink dress with that Barbie face rotating to some outdated tune saw me bypass the "duty free" counter without hesitation.  Sadly others did not have the same strength.  Of course 3 minutes prior to landing people suddenly want to remove all their worldly possessions from the overhead lockers, yep not just one locker, and head for the exit so as to get a jump start as the plane taxis down the runway and just as that seal to the plane’s door lets a little light in, the passengers hope to vanish into the airport.

Museum Bishkek Kyrgystan
  Sadly it had to be explained to people that it was currently impossible to leave the aircraft both prior to landing and also upon landing as they would have to wait for the plane to dock.  This was met with absolute despair from people, and mostly people from mum and dad's vintage.   At what age do you loose your marbles exactly?

 

The flight did give us the visual pleasure of seeing the Tian Shan mountain range, which has one hell of a set of mountains attached to it, and of course heaps of snow on top.  And it wasn't your gentle mountain range either. They were steep, unforgiving and as sharp as a knife.  If the plane went down, we weren't coming back up. 

 

The aircraft taxied into the airport which was littered with US military aircraft.

Bishkek Kyrgystan
  We managed to find the visa office, 10 minutes and $36 US later we left the room with a valid Kyrgyz visa.  Got through customs/immigration, and collected our luggage.  Speaking of which:  how many times does security check to make sure that the luggage ticket you are handed at check-in actually matches the sticker on your collected luggage?  Well this guy took his job of "luggage number checker" very seriously, very seriously.  I wasn't taking one more step in case the only foreigners on the plane had taken "somebody else’s" backpack. 

 

We took an Audi taxi to the city of Bishkek some 30 klms away from the airport.  During the drive we could tell that we had entered a new place.  The tunes on the radio were running to a different beat, about 180 bpm to be exact, very modern and very funky.

Bishkek Kyrgystan
  The driver’s name was Andre and he looked like an extra from a Bond film, a Russian bond film of course.   Most of the cars driven here are BMW, Audi, Mazda, Opel, VW, Mercedes, Lada, Fiat plus  a few others, and any car can be a taxi. We arrived at our hotel and we thought "where is the city?"  We were in the heart of Bishkek and the streets were lined with trees, and there was grass on the nature strips.  Also there was a distinct lack of high rise buildings.  Compared to China, I thought we were in the middle of a national park. 

 

The people here are friendly, although we have not met anyone who can speak any more than 10 words of English.  The hot water is off in Bishkek this month.  Some guy’s car got shot with 20 rounds in the city centre last month; he now looks like a cheese grater.  So far we have been night-clubbing with a few of the local girls, just to get an insight into the more recent history of the Kyrgyz people.  We had a terrific time, but the language barrier is frustrating.  In order of priority people here generally speak Russian, Kyrgyz, Tajik, German and then not much English by this time. 

 

We have taken time out to visit some clothes/food/handicraft markets, which have been massive and markets where we are more likely to find something that we could wear back home without being locked up for the night.  The days are warm here and you need to wear a jumper at night. < Mum that jumper has certainly come in handy>  

 

We have spent the last 3 days in a seemingly futile battle with the Uzbekistan Consulate.  Firstly, on Wednesday we arrived to be told by the guard at the gate "No."  So we could not even get inside the consulate, which by the way is a 2 or 3 story modern brick establishment with the usual heavy steel vehicle gates and prison bar style 10 foot perimeter fencing, and an external door leading into the consulate that can only be opened from the inside.  Oh and there is the Rottweiler aka security guard.  The only word of English he understands is, No. We found out that we could attend tomorrow and wait in line or make a call and place our names on a list to receive priority.  The phone call was going to be useless to us pair of multi lingual idiots, so we said we would return the next day and wait in line.  Message conveyed.

 

The Second day we attended at 10am for opening.    Only a handful of people waiting by that gate, and once inside the gate you were almost guaranteed entry into the holy grail, the consulate.    An hour of so passed, and we chatted to some of the locals in our fluent Russian.  But just as someone would leave more people were rocking up to apply for visas, and there was only a 3 hour window of opportunity to apply for a visa.  We were then approached by a person on the guard’s behalf to offer the said guard a monetary bribe.  We said thanks but no thanks. Mistake number 1.  We then patiently waited until closing time and we were told sorry the consulate has gone to lunch, and you will need to make a phone call to this number and register your name before you can be seen.  We had pissed the Rottweiler off. 

 

We left with the phone number and returned to a girl who changed money for us the day before, and with whom we had struck enough pity with that we felt we could ask her this favour.  She made a call to this number for all of 15 seconds, said our names and hung up.  We were most grateful. 

 

The third day we arrive at 10am to find our name not on "the list", which is held by the Rottweiler.  If your name is not on the list then you are turned away.  Rule number two women seemed to receive priority in this system.  After much pleading from us and a Canadian guy who spoke Russian, the Rottweiler at least let us line up in the vain hope we would make it inside.  Fortunately, the line wore down until it was just us against the clock, and the moment we had been waiting for.  Through the first gate, and through the secure door way to be met by one woman behind a glass shield, displaying a sign "If you cannot speak Russian you will need a translator".  A bit late to tell us that after being through all that waiting.  Fortunately the Canadian slipped in with us.  He is riding a push bike around Central Asia - which seems to be a popular mode of transport.  We filled in some paper work, returned several hours later at our designated time and received our visa for Uzbek for the princely some of $76 US. 

 

Kyrgyzstan seems to be very liberal, yet has the Russian style old buildings around, with a statue of Lenin, and they love to drink.  There are dozens of open air bars/cafes that serve alcohol and food together with the ultimate karaoke or DJ EXPERIENCE and everybody young and old loves the loud funky top ten dance tunes that they pump out.  We even listened to Kylie Minogue yesterday in a bar. 

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Lenin Bishkek Kyrgystan
Lenin Bishkek Kyrgystan
Education ministry Bishkek Kyrgyst…
Education ministry Bishkek Kyrgys…
Museum Bishkek Kyrgystan
Museum Bishkek Kyrgystan
Bishkek Kyrgystan
Bishkek Kyrgystan
Bishkek Kyrgystan
Bishkek Kyrgystan
Bishkek
photo by: londonstudent