I have been to Kirghizia and it remembered me the dream kingdom. It is very different from the active and busy life style of my environment and the Internet life. The Kirghiz people are simple and unfussy. They live very quietly by their own business and originality. After the USSR has been broken the country acquired its own face, keeping the soviet image as a museum exhibit.
Kyrgyzstan face is colorful, warm, desert and original.
— It’s all right, now we are in our territory, — the driver is breathing lightly when we crossed the border between Kazakhstan and Kirghizia, — You’ll be in admire when you see this country!
— Why? — I begin to understand.
— You can buy and sell everything here, you can do all you want?you can kill and give money and everything will be ok, — the driver exaggerated.
— And I shouldn’t put on my safe belt! Great!
I am rushing to put off my safe belt, I can’t stand it. In Kazakhstan you have to pay terrible fines for any violations on the road. In Kirghizia the police officers sometimes stop you to get their «tips» or like they say there «chai-pai», it is 50 soms (about $1) and after that you can calmly continue your way. As a rule, it doesn?t matter if you had broken the road rules or not.
I made one of my stops in the gorge of Barskaun. Its space is nearly 20 km. One Kirghiz family has rented a huge square (several hectares) for 49 years. They have to pay 150 dollars a year. They live in this amazing place in summer and give tourists opportunity to sleep in their urta. It costs 70 soms for one person. This family also grows cattle. It’s simply ideal place for life: Indescribable calm among almost the wild Tan-Shan Mountains with their firs and waterfalls. This place is indescribably beautiful for tourists, especially for those who are inexperienced with mountains. The temperature at July’s night during a little cold snap was 3 degrees but in afternoon it was about 25 degrees.
— People in Chuyskaya oblast live not bad but in the south people leave their houses and go to Russia, — said one Kirghiz driver. People grow potatoes, wheat. The main source of income is bazaar, cafe and marshrutka (minibus for 8–10 passengers or fixed-route taxi). Bazaar and marshrutka bring big money for the state. But nobody knows where this money goes.
There are 70% of marshrutkas belong to officials. Each marshrutka is taxed. The tax is 1,500 soms a month. The roads are not mended. They are in the same condition since they have been built in the time of the USSR.
— After I have bought this car (the car is similar to marshrutka, unfortunately I haven’t marked this moment). I have been trying for 3 months to get the credit. I said that I was going to buy the cattle. As a result I received 2,000 and bought the car, and then I sold that car and bought this new one in installment. The creditors came and asked me where the cattle were. I went to neighbors, borrowed 15 rams and suggested the other neighbor to feed his cows for 2 days. The creditors said: «It’s all right».
There is a lot of free wild beauty in this country. When it’s cloudless, sunny day the lake Issyk-Kul has brightly blue color. Along its coast there are absolutely uninhabited magnificent beaches. In its numerous gorges there are many comfortable places for campsite.
There are 26 towns in Kirghizia and the biggest one is the capital city Bishkek. Bishkek seems small and quiet. It’s always windy in its streets and you can see mountains from any point of the city.
Bishkek is located in the centre of the Chuyskaya valley at the foot of the Kirghiz Ala-Too, at the height of 760m above sea level.
It’s not difficult and quite cheap to travel around the city or the whole country. You can meet many people from the other countries walking along the streets. You will see the difference between them and the native inhabitants immediately. In the Ala-Too square there is a guard of honor at the pedestal of the Independence memorial. I have been staring at them for almost 15 minutes trying to understand if they were men or mannequins. They were men. There is an art gallery near the square. Here as well as pictures you can buy different souvenirs. There are Kirghiz artists pictures there; among them you can find just great ones charming their oriental pretentious beauty.
If you decide to go on foot from the art gallery to the station your way will be lying through the Oak Park. It is situated between Chuy Avenue and Abgimomunov Street to the west from Soviet Street. If you have a wish you can go on foot around the almost whole city. It takes less than 1 hour. If you decide to take a taxi it will cost about 80 rubbles. Any services in Bishkek are quite cheap but the Kirghiz people have special prices for tourists. You can bravely divided them into 2 or even 3 and haggle ruthlessly. Bishkek like the most towns in Kirghizia has IP-phoning departments for each block. The call to Russia costs about 12 cents a minute. There are several Internet-cafes and you can find them without any problems.
© Olga Saliy. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior written permission of author.
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