Idle Time in Bishkek
Bishkek Travel Blog› entry 42 of 83 › view all entries
November 17th, 2008 – by: sayohat
I set an alarm for 7:45 this morning so I could get up, shower, pack my dirty laundry and take it to a cleaning service that Alexandra had shown me on Sunday. I didn't know how much it would cost or how long it would take, but I was willing to take the chance, especially on the heavy sweater that I knew wouldn't have been dry if I had washed it the day I arrived. The principal motivator for using a laundry service was the drying, even though I'm hopeful they will do a better job washing than I could do by hand. I was running a little later than I'd planned, but it didn't matter because I found out the laundry wouldn't be ready until Tuesday evening.
I waited for about 15 minutes only to see the packed minibus pass me by. I decided I would wait as patiently as I could until the next one came, but if it passed me by I would just take a taxi.
I quickly got a seat on the inbound 298 and rode it all the way to Ala-Too Square. I decided to see the art museum after all, but when I got there a sign announced that Monday was their off day, so I continued up the street in search of a restaurant I'd read about. The entrance for Cafe Mazai was adjacent to an apartment building, and steps led down into a dimly-lit cellar-like restaurant. The theme and featured entree was rabbit meat, so I suppose it was only fitting. The menu was slightly pricy, but not bad considering the delicacy being served. I sat down. I used two menus to order, one in English with outdated prices and another more up-to-date Russian menu. It wasn't really clear what the dishes would really contain other than rabbit, so I picked one that looked like it might be representative and ordered the coffee I'd missed in the morning. The food was served in only 10 minutes and although the dish didn't look at all like what the menu had described, it was pretty good. The rabbit was breaded and fried then coated with a decorative display of ketchup and mayonnaise. I had specifically chosen the dish without these two condiments, but they ended up being fine. The coffee was served in an earthenware espresso cup and was very tasty as far as Central Asian coffees go. The total damage was about 220 som, or $5.50 US. Considering that it was a unique meal and still cheap by western standards, I didn't feel as bad.
After purchasing some kishmish (brown raisins) at a nice fruit market near Alexandra's flat, I stopped in for a little break. Sasha was in her room listening to Linkin Park when I got in, but shortly after Alexandra came in and handed me an apple she just bought. I remembered I was going to go to the post office and try to track down the Peace Corps office, both of which Alexandra helped me to find via the Kyrgyz information hotline. So, I headed out again, stopping at a small post office nearby where all the clientele but me were women over 70. It was about a 45-minute walk to the Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan headquarters on a quiet side street next to a school. I got the grand tour by the Admin Officer named Mark and met a volunteer who just started her service and was stationed in a nearby village. The office was newly remodeled and still smelled of fresh paint. The map in the AO's office showed volunteers clustered around major cities and roads, but not in some areas where certain hazards prevented their placement. It turns out Mark knew some people who volunteered with me in Uzbekistan and who were now living in Bishkek, so I passed along my contact info. About 20 minutes after leaving the office, I got a call from Dustin and made plans for Tuesday night. Small world!
I wandered through the Osh Bazaar again, sampling a couple somsa (chicken-potato and pumpkin-beef varieties) before having a Siberian Crown beer at a month-old pub called Grizzly Bar. And Skynet, this Internet cafe, wins the award for fastest connection in Central Asia. Soon I will head for another Begemot burger, possibly another beer, and then back to the flat that has become my Bishkek home. Tomorrow I hope to squeeze in a trip to the Burana Tower in the morning.
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