Back to Bishkek and Adieu to Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek Travel Blog› entry 50 of 83 › view all entries
I had time in the morning to have a good breakfast of eggs and bread with thick cherry and blackcurrant jams, then make my way downtown for nice morning views of the mountains. I was going to change a bit more money, but no bank in Naryn would exchange anything less than $100 bills, which I didn't have, so I left town hoping I'd have enough to make it to Bishkek. Of course Marat didn't show up at the appointed time, but I was running late anyway and ended up catching a minivan which was showing it went to Balykchy but the man said Bishkek and I paid him only 300 (the going rate for taxis was 400). The van did go as far as Balykchy, but the driver put me on another minivan that stopped frequently and ended up in evening rush hour traffic around the city of Kant, a half hour east of the capital.
I had called Alexandra again, who invited me back and I arrived almost exactly at 6pm. I was supposed to be at the Kazakhstan embassy to pick up my passport and visa at 6:30, so I barely had time to say hi before rushing out to grab a taxi to the embassy, using my last 100 som. There was a large mob of people waiting outside the door, but once they opened the door almost everyone fit inside the vestibule and waited while the consular officer called out each person's country and name one by one. I was surprised when they called my name, since I assumed I'd have problems coming after the day they said it'd be ready, but everything was in order and I walked out with another 'stan visa in my passport.
I walked for a couple blocks to an intersection with everything I needed: an ATM, refill minutes for my cell phone, a restaurant and Internet.
On Wednesday, the 26th, I got up early and headed to the bus station for a front seat in a minibus bound for Almaty. I had only spent about two weeks in Kyrgyzstan, not really very long and certainly did not get a chance to visit a lot of the places due to the season, but I had a much more favorable impression than a few other tourists I'd met had given me, and I would like to return to explore the amazing wilderness in this country, possibly to stay in a yurt and try some of the traditional fermented mare's milk, kumiss, in season. Of all the countries, certainly Kyrgyzstan has the most infrastructure for tourism and has the most potential to grow with the variety of things to do and see. Even in winter, it was a special treat to be able to see the snow-white mountain tops and visit some of the pristine natural areas without crowds of tourists. I'd definitely recommend it and hope to be back someday. I have been invited at least three times to come back next summer, so we'll see!