"Marooned" Bishkek Travelogue by travelinxs

Bishkek Travel Guide: 120 reviews and 327 photos

8 April 2011

I finally slit open Hagar's box this morning and nervously peered in. Hagar peered back out at me. 'Hello, my friend,' I said. Dragging him out was nearly as hard as getting him in. I was delighted, however, that there wasn't a scratch on him. At least, not any new ones. He's a bit battered and tired from a hard life, but for what was originally an off-the-peg £400 ($600) bike, he's doing well. I'm glad I didn't try and reassemble him out at the airport however as it took a couple of hours.

The temperature continues to rise. The skies are blue and the sun shines. My down jacket was replaced by my waterproof, which in turn has been relegated to the pile of junk in my room.

Killing time in the city my regular haunt is a simple outdoor cafe in the center where I can pick up an all-too-sweet coffee in a plastic cup for 14p (20c) and relax people watching. The owner now welcomes me each day with a warm smile and handshake. His assistant, Amie, is studying English at college and she often joins my table to practice. As for my Russian, it's coming along nicely. I study and practice whenever I can and can now say hello, goodbye, yes, no and count up to one. Impressed?

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The center of the city was closed to traffic today as parades marched through, culminating at the government's White House. Thousands were out on the streets - as many army and police as civilians. It was the first anniversary of the (most recent) revolution. As I understand it, the nasty President Bakiyev became miffed at some peaceful protestors outside of the White House last year and had them killed. The people rose up and rioted, the President fled to Belarus. Democracy was born. A familiar story these days.

Boredom drove me into the National State Museum, something of an art-deco experience. I couldn't read the Russian labels, but the paintings on the ceiling were interesting. I especially liked the one of President Reagan wearing a skull mask sitting joyfully astride a missile! It was all predominantly Soviet propaganda. The downstairs was free to enter today with a gallery of gruesome photographs from the fighting during the revolution.

Retiring to my cafe I was peacefully watching the world trundle by when a Kyrgyz girl came and joined me at my table and it wasn't long before she made it quite clear that she fancied me and wanted to take me home with her. Which was nice. I mean, it's always nice when someone says they fancy you. That she was in her eighties, dressed in rags and smelt of wee was irrespective. Still I was flattered. I turned her down as gently as I could but she went off in a huff never-the-less.

Nearly all the travellers have moved on now. Its just myself and a quiet, extremely polite Japanese guy called Katz. He's been ill with diarrhea for the past 10 days so he spends most of the time in his dorm. (Or, moreover, the toilet.)

Chatting to Tokan this evening, my lovely Kyrgyz hostess who runs the guesthouse with her smiling Japanese husband and she regaled tales of some of the road legends that have passed through over recent years. Such as Alvaro, known on the internet as Bicyclown, who has been travelling the world for many years by bicycle with all his clown paraphernalia, putting on shows wherever he goes. Although I've never had the pleasure of meeting him, my friend Nando first told me about him in Ethiopia back in 2005. She also talked of two Dutch women who stayed, showing their entry in the guest book, marvelling at their youthful looks and extreme fitness. I laughed when I saw Edith's and Annette's name, with whom Juliet and I had cycled in Iran with. The bicycle community is certainly an intimate one.

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Tokan called the Uzbek embassy for me at 10am as instructed, but they said I should visit them at 3pm. I wasn't surprised when the guards said I needed to call for an appointment and wouldn't let me in. It's never straight forward. Back at Sekura's Tokan called again; they still hadn't had approval from Tashkent. Now its the weekend. Monday the embassy is closed. And I'm going out of my mind with boredom.

I hunted down the Betta Stores supermarket in an attempt to cheer myself up and add another dimension to my meagre diet of greasy noodles I've been subsisting off. As I entered I was met by culinary heaven and my eyes widened to the size of dinner plates, reminding me that I needed to buy one as I'd left that behind too, and an hour later I was struggling home across the city with two enormous bags of shopping. Cooked a huge pasta and sweetcorn meal rounded off by an elephant's foot sized chocolate cream cake.

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  • Page Updated Nov 22, 2012
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