Day 60 - Wednesday May 31st - Bishkek

We had a day off in town. There was a National Park about 30 minutes from town to enjoy some more alpine walking or just explore the city. I had some work to do, so Loris and a few of the others went walking in the mountains for the morning. Others soon found that all the museums, for some unexplained reason were closed.

In the afternoon we wandered the sprawling and busy Osh Market. It appears you could buy anything there, from a new hat to plumbing supplies and your daily staples of meat, vegetables and dried fruit.

The centre of Bishkek is covered in parkland with a number of large, cubic Soviet style buildings and statues of Lenin and Manus (a national hero). The wide, tree lined streets and rose gardens gave the centre of town an air of sophistication and order. But a few blocks away, like the roads, the foot paths have broken up into an uneven jumble of rubble.

After a day or so, you start identifying the smaller things that help to characterise a place. There are no new cars in Kyrgyzstan. I have always wondered what happens to the cast offs from countries that have mandated age limits for cars. Germany seems to donate their old BMW, Audi and Mercedies and Japan their old Lexus and Toyota. Newest about 15 years old. As the astute will have noted, the German cars are left hand drive, while the Japanese are right hand drive. Not a problem here, just so long as they are going.

Trucks also seem to breakdown a lot in this country. They are parked in the most inconvenient roadside spot in a state of repair, with parts, tyres and people spread around them.

And there are mobile phones. I observed earlier that China must have had 2 billion new smart phones and as a consequence everyone had a camera. Not so here, old Nokia’s are common here, and in case you had forgotten, while they did have a camera, they were a challenge to use.