Originally I had planned for more time in Central Asia but as I spent more time in Europe something had to give and that something was Kyrgyzstan. I originally had a week here which would have allowed more time to explore the countryside but with only 3 days here I’m fairly tied to the capital, Bishkek.
Went for a walk first thing this morning and discovered the first really good coffee I’ve had since Hungary, and cheesecake, perfect breakfast.
Bishkek is about 800,000 people, very green if a bit rundown and full of parks. Ping-pong is the sport here and walked around I saw table after table being set up in different parks.
Headed to the local art gallery, neat to visit but not a whole lot of interest, a local artist’s painting of Ziggy Stardust with a pig’s nose was at least attention grabbing.
Like most of the rest of Central Asia, Kyryzstan is quite poor and finding restaurants (or even stores) isn’t so easy. After a while found a burger place and I have been craving one… uh… I’ve eaten beef twice here so far and the meat is… different, and not in a way I can really enjoy.
The center of the city is a huge Russian style square (the city is quite young and mostly a Soviet design) with fountains and tons of beds of long stemmed roses and such things. The centerpiece of the square is the National History Museum which is supposedly quite good and next on my list.
Large sections of the square including the area around the museum were fenced off and under construction. I walked all the way around the fence and on the far side there was a gap. Walked through, stepped around the construction and into the museum.
Hmm… dark hallway, empty… well this is the side door maybe if I walk around to the front area… so I start walking through a dark and empty museum that anyone else on earth would have realized was closed. Not me! I walk around another corner, in darkness and see three soldiers with rifles goose-stepping towards me.
I fumble and say sorry and quickly retrace my steps out of the building and then my head voice says “Uh… was that really 3 goose-stepping soldiers?”. Turn around, yup, here they come out the door, goosing right past me and down the sidewalk. I follow them, they come around another corner, into the main part of the square and in front of 20-30 people with cameras… ohhhh…. changing of the guard… oops, hustle my way back the way I came and back to the side of the barrier I was supposed to be on….
Yup, I was the stupid tourist messing around with the changing of the guard ceremony. Should have yelled to the crowd “Sorry we don’t have these in America”
In this pic the museum door is behind me and they have just passed me and I have just realized I was in their way.
Here come the guards who have just been relieved and have no idea that I am dumb.
And here are the ones who are staring at me and laughing at the dumb tourist.
Dinner with the POTUS
Had the chicken burger, much better than the beef. Would have loved to have tried a place with Kyrgyz cuisine but could not find one.