Walking All Day in Bishkek
Bishkek Travel Blog› entry 40 of 83 › view all entries
It wasn't until 9am that I finally woke up to cloudy skies. Alexandra and I had a leisurely breakfast while Ilya and Dima prepared to leave for classes. Sasha must have already left because I didn't see her. I realized I hadn't yet checked about the Kazakhstan embassy, so Alexandra called for me and determined it was open until noon. The time was already 11, so she called me a taxi and I rushed to the embassy, located south of the main center of town. After waiting in a short line, I was given a handfull of papers and told to come back with photocopies and the bank receipt, which I already knew about. I decided to walk from the embassy to the bank, which was going to be far. The weather had started to turn sunny but was still cold enough that I needed a hat.
I found a photocopy store and made the requisite copies, randomly running into an American named Jon who had been living there with his wife for seven years. He invited me to go square dancing if I came back through town. I took his number and continued on, passing under railroad tracks and turning at Bokonbaev street. I stopped at a bench alongside a wide boulevard and looked at my map. I must have traveled about 5 kilometers, so no wonder I was tired. The boulevard was Erkindik and was only two blocks away from Sovyet street where the bank was. I took a slight detour one block to see a statue of Frunze and the train station. During the Soviet Union days, Bishkek was named Frunze after the man who was a commander in the Russian Civil War.
It was probably a 75-minute walk before I reached "bank junction" at the corner of Bokonbaev and Abdurakhmanov (Sovyet) streets, with large banks at each corner. It was lunch break when I did get there, so I went to have lunch myself at a good restaurant across the street. I had a tasty dish with tender chunks of fish, garlic, vegetables and rice. It cost about as much as the taxi ride from the airport, but was delicious. And they had a much-needed bathroom.
I paid the bank fee for my Kazakh visa, which was also a cinch, then walked about five more blocks to the German brewery Steinbrau, where I sampled the four house-brewed beers and ordered a Munich Lager and read the Times of Central Asia, an English-language newspaper. Too bad it was a bit far from where I was staying and reputedly a not-so-safe neighborhood at night. I took a crowded bus to the Osh Bazaar in an attempt to find the Peace Corps office that I'd gotten a tip was located near there. I walked through and around the bazaar, and while I didn't find the office I did discover a maze of muddy walkways lined with vendors selling all sorts of things you'd expect to find in a large market. Near the bazaar I also discovered the Arpa brewery, which was closing for the day and could not offer me a tour but suggested I come back on Monday. From there I continued east on the main drag, Chuy Prospekt, passing a large university, many shops and a huge department store across from the theatre.
I'll be eating dinner shortly and will head back to the flat to see what's going on, or just to crash after a long day of walking. This also marks the first time in a very long time that I've been able to catch up with this blog! Tomorrow I plan to focus on downtown and the museums, government buildings and squares. Alexandra said something about going to the nearby mountains on Sunday, so if that's still on I'm up for it. Time to roll...