Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ode to Bishkek

Dear August,

I must say, I’ll really glad to see you. Although, I have no idea how you managed to sneak up on me like that! Seriously though, time is flying by over here.

Its been pretty hot in Chui the past week or so. Made slightly worse by a nasty sinus infection. It almost makes me wish for winter…almost. Despite the heat, I’m developing a heartfelt affection for Bishkek. I’m an hour away from the city but the drive is worth it. During my visits I usually always “discover” some restaurant or shop or part of town that I want to explore. I was introduced to my new favorite place…a legitimate coffee shop. Name? Coffee. Not very creative is it? Nonetheless, they actually serve cappuccinos. Amazing. My only complaint is that the prices are more on the American side, whereas my pay definitely remains in the Kyrgyz neighborhood. Oh well. I actually wrote a weekly “coffee treat” into my budget so I wouldn’t feel guilty.

As amazing and wonderful and magical as Bishkek is (or can be), I do have a few complainants.

First - why are there two voksals (bus stations)? And why are there 50 different names for them? Old, new, east, west…Jesus! Getting around is confusing enough, give me a break.

Second - the undergrounds. At some of the busier streets in Bishkek you have to cross the street through the underground. Tunnels run underneath the street and you go down the stairs and come up on the other side of the road. The underground is also like a mini bazaar. Vendors have set up shop and you can buy things like cheap jewelry or even underwear. The undergrounds are all quite strange to be honest. Not to mention pretty sketchy. Especially when it’s dark. When I’m in the city at night, I walk several blocks out of my way just to avoid using them.

I was almost mugged in the underground. Which might help explain my aversion to them. A few days ago I was in Bishkek for something or another. I was using the underground to cross the street. I was almost to the stairs when I felt a tug on my bag, which was hanging from my shoulder. I look over and what do you know – there is a grown man with his hand inside my purse! Thankfully, he ran off immediately. He didn’t manage to take anything, but he was probably only a few seconds away from having my phone and wallet. Moral of the story: avoid the undergrounds…and pay more attention.

Third – traffic. If I had 5com for every time some rude or crazy driver almost hit me, sometimes on purpose, I could afford to up my coffee treat to 3 times a week. On second thought…

Four – babies. This might seem like an odd complaint. Actually, it’s not really a complaint, more like a weird observation. There are a lot of babies here. I mean, babies are literally everywhere. It’s starting to freak me out just a little. I don’t hate babies; they just scare me. These mini humans don’t talk. They just cry. A lot. How do you know what they want? What are you suppose to do with them? You try being in a city where there is literally 10 babies at any given time within a 15-foot radius of you and tell me you wouldn’t have nightmares too.

Despite the insane drivers and confusing transportation system, Bishkek is a really neat city and the people are for the most part, extremely helpful and friendly. I’m still working on not getting lost but I feel like I’m almost to that point. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

…Not the underground tunnels…I won’t be using those anymore. A different tunnel…one preferably above ground.

1 comment:

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