I have lived in Bishkek for a month now and I have by far not seen enough of it. Altough it’s really not a big city with only few “famous sights” in LonelyPlanet, I am sure I won’t get to know all of it. There are so many different districts with different styles, restaurants with different national food, many construction sites, official (mostly Soviet-style) buildings, sculptures, parks, shopping malls, lots of university buildings from the at least 13 universities here, and of course, famous AlaToo Square with a light show every evening.
Just to give you some impression about the things that got my personal attention during this short time, may it be that I am missing them here, may be that I just noticed it or that I am totally into them.
Note: These thing only reflect my personal impressions and therefore might only be interesting (if ever) for the people who know me. I thought it might be a way to give you sort of an image of my life here. So, I was thinking about doing like that every month or so – just let me know if you think it’s kind of stupid or just don’t read it!
It is just amazing. I have been to all three bazaars here and am sure I am going to go there quite often until December.
There are Osh Bazaar (closest to the city centre and a bit touristy but with great food section), Orto Sai (I just went there for a couple of minutes, but it has a notable flee market on Sundays), DorDoi (biggest bazaar in whole Central Asia, which is why there are people from many different places). All the bazaars are located in really big halls and most shops or stands in storage containers and really small streets between the container walls (hard to describe I hope you can see it on the picture).
Usually I don’t like shopping but at DorDoi I was simply overwhelmed by the loads of things that can be bought there, by the masses of people walking, selling, buying things there and the sheer extent of the market (causing me to get lost several times). Every product has one or more distinctive streets – so you just have to find it and you can choose out of a million of possible designs. There are also many people going through the small paths between the stands/containers with old baby carriages from mid 20th century (sorry for that Berlin stereotype but I couldn’t help thinking that they would simply BE IT in Prenzlberg) filled with hot maize, bakery produce and other food they sell, or carrying huge stakes from whatever place to another. It’s a really vivid place. Also impressing that they are opened every day and during the whole year.
After a long odyssee I finally bought a bike. It was a tough search because there are mostly only really good and expensive mountainbikes sold – to adventurers who want to cycle round Issyk-Kul or even in the mountains. In general city cycling is rare, although my flatmate told me it’s slowly increasing. Mostly in parks kids are racing on the paths and it seems really fashionate to rent a tandem in the evenings and cycle with your friends/lover around the big squares in downtown. But daily cycling for the sake of getting from A to B?
Nope! This might actually be due to the bad condition of the streets and sidewalks and the complete lack of cycleways. I am still learning to cope with that and am happy that my bike here has a much better suspension and bigger tires than the one I have in Berlin.
You can get literally everything (from headscarves to bum-push-ups !not kidding!) in Bishkek and on the bazaars – means that all my worries about not being able to buy for example tampons, turned out to be ridiculous. Except for one thing which I didn’t find until now but I’m sure I will get it somewhere: products for curls. Like in Europe (at least that’s my impression) curls are not really fashionate at the moment here and except for maybe one or two short passings I haven’t seen any woman with curls – the most common hairstructure is black and straight anyway. Also, I was already twice confronted with polite but not really enthusiastic comments about my “extraordinary” hairstyle. Well, I got to accept that I’m never gonna be fashionate anywhere (except (20,50,80)’s partys maybe). That’s curls!
Loving: Bouncy Castles
Already on my first day I noticed the high frequency of bouncy castles when you are walking through the city.
Since I just had gotton into that stuff in the beginning of Berlin summer, I was extremely thrilled. I even saw some in Issyk-Kul region. Yes, they are paid and seem to me as some outposts of the amusement parks that cover a large percentage of the big parks (Panfilov and Ata-Türk which is just where I live) in Bishkek. The entrance to the parks is free and only the attractions (there is something called 9D cinema!) have to be paid. I already ended up shooting hearts and screaming in a I-don’t-know-how-it’s-called-but-was-moving-really-fast-thing!
Throughout the town there are also lots of playgrounds (my flatmate told me that everybody in Bishkek has their own squeaky swing in the neighbourhood) that by the way, are always crowded with kids. When I’m going home I’ll start an initiative to build more bouncy castles and playgrounds in Europe. Maybe the kids are gonna crowd it, there too, so we would get rid of this annoying demographic problem. If not – never mind – I’d enjoy anyways…