Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Tequila Dancing Friends

Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
Trip End Feb 06, 2014

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Where I stayed
Hotel Semetei

Flag of Kyrgyzstan  , Chuy Province,
Saturday, November 16, 2013

Another day, another dodgy car experience.

We were told to leave the guesthouse and meet our driver on the main street just past 0800 so lugging our bags over rocks and a river that's what we did - after another tasty breakfast and photo with guesthouse family. Sure enough, a car pulls up with what looks like a kid driving his grandad. We ask numerous times if they are from CBT (Community Based Tourism). We've booked a car through CBT - that is you yes? Yes. Well ok then. Just as our bags go in the trunk another car pulls up saying he's the driver from CBT. All I'm thinking is man, it's too early for this shit. After a phone call it all becomes clear that sure enough the second person to pull up was indeed the one we had pre booked and the kid and his grandad were simply trying their luck.

Our day then goes a little something like this:

0820 - Journey begins. We notice windscreen is so smashed in it actually moves with each bump.
0840 - There's a clunk underneath the car like we've just hit and run over something. On getting out to investigate we find that no, we haven't just killed someone but yes, one of the wheels has detached itself. Driver then goes about trying to fix said problem by trying to reattach the front wheel by hand screwing it on with an old bolt.
0915 - Not wanting to say G'day to afterlife just yet, we hail mini bus driving by to take us to Bazaar Korgon. Bus continues to pick people up until we're sat like peas in a pod with others standing.
1010 - Arrive Bazaar Korgon and have nice man show us to a shared taxi.
1015 - Driver kicks someone out of the taxi so we can have all three back seats, puts a woman in shotgun and off we go to Bishkek. He was a good driver.... if you ignored his liking to go 120km on zigzag high roads along a dam. He did slow down when we passed a truck which had rolled on its side into the barrier.
1900 - Arrive safely in Bishkek. We are even driven straight to our hotel door at no extra cost.

After such an exhausting day we headed straight to Metro Bar, which we had heard was a local hangout for expats and may be showing the rugby. We were in luck - English accents filled the room and there on the screen were the English coming out to battle the Kiwis. I won't mention the end result but by the end of night I had made a new best friend, Ulzhana from Kazakhstan and her English boyfriend Simon who was out on a VISA run to renew his work VISA for Kazakhstan. A band played. Beer, jager and tequila flowed. Ulzhana and I danced up a storm. Even the boys had a bit of a boogie. It was a fabulous end to our very long day.

The next day we had vague recollections of being invited to a BBQ but couldn't quite remember by whom or for what time. Not that it mattered as we were in no fit state to do anything. Sam bravely ventured out to get me food but other than that we spent the day in bed watching movies.

The remainder of our time in Bishkek was a little more productive and was spent wondering through some of the city's leafy streets and parks. We had a less than average breakfast at Fatboys but it was nice to eat scrambled eggs, bacon and toast after so long. We walked to Ala-Too Square to take photos of the flag and bored looking soldiers. Discovered a fast food burger joint called Begemot - not the nicest but we can't stop going back. Strolled past Kyrgyzstan's Government and President's offices at the White House. Had our photos ruined at Victory Square by some little punk street kid who wouldn't get off the flame. I was going to tell him to jog on but having noticed a knife laying just under the flame Sam motioned me away rather quickly.

Besides from the street urchin kid and a few homeless people we've felt 100% safe in Bishkek. They say it turns somewhat dodgy after dark but we, touch wood, haven't experienced anything. I just can't stop marvelling at how well dressed the girls are. I feel like a right scuz with my soiled boots, crumpled tops and unblowdried hair. Saw a sign for Mango today so have put that on my hit list once we return from Karakol.

Oh I forgot to mention our main reason for coming to Bishkek was to apply for our Kazakhstan Tourist VISA so first thing Monday we caught a taxi up to the Embassy to do that. Straightforward process. US$30 each for British. Opening hours 0900 - 1200 (although I think this varies depending on day). Once again you had to go to the Embassy, fill out application form, receive payment slip, taxi to bank to pay fee, taxi back to Embassy to provide receipt, passport and application. On submitting Monday we were told it would be ready Thursday afternoon.


Bus: Somewhere near Arslanbob to Bazaar Korgon KGS 50 ea (US$1)
Share Taxi: Bazaar Korgon to Bishkek KGS 3,900 (US$80) for three back seats.
Hotel: Semetei. Very nice, good location but KGS 2,500 (US$50) per night. Massive room, dbl bed, separate shower/bath & toilet. Internet at reception but not in room. Incl. breakfast but we were never up in time.
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