New countries to visit, new adventures to be had, new people to meet and new cultures to experience. I just finished following the silk road through Central Asia. Although the silk road did begin in Xian, China, most of the route is running directly through Central Asia to India or Italy. I spent a few days in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, and then I boarded a private train for the rest of the adventure. Because of the many amazing sites that are part of the silk road, there will be many posts for this adventure.
Until recently before this journey was planned I honestly didn’t know much about Kyrgyzstan (or any of the other countries on my trip). I didn’t know where it was, and I especially didn’t know how to spell it or pronounce it. Glad to say that I finally know all three. We flew from Salt Lake City, Utah (my hometown) to Amsterdam. The reason I mention this flight is as we were flying to Amsterdam our plane flew right through the Aurora Borealis. I don’t have any pictures as they wouldn’t take out of my plane window, but it was phenomenal. Green lights streaked across the sky surrounding our plane. We watched the changing sky for about 30 minutes until it was out of sight. A spectacular beginning to this adventure. Our next flight took us to Almaty, Kazakhstan where we landed at 2 am. We went straight to the hotel and got in a few hours of sleep.
The next morning we drove to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (which is the capital). Almaty is at the bottom of Kazakhstan near Kyrgyzstan, so it was around a 4-hour drive, and some extra time going through the border checkpoint. The drive was pleasant (although some places the roads were very bumpy). Fall colors were out and the trees were beautiful. Kyrgyzstan can have extreme temperatures especially during summer with heat and winter with snow. The best time to visit is during Spring or Fall. However, I choose Fall because not only is the weather perfect but the fall foliage is spectacular. We left early in the morning, so we had plenty of time to walk around Bishkek. The city is filled with many different beautiful parks and in those parks are lovely pieces of art by created by local artists. These statues and other types of art are found all throughout the city, not just in the parks.
Kyrgyzstan was under Soviet Control until 1991. As we were walking through town, we saw many interesting buildings and houses left over during Soviet Control. We didn’t see any tourists there and even better we didn’t see a single McDonalds. I love visiting places where the people and cities look as they have looked for a long time. However, I must say that one of the highlights of Kyrgyzstan (as well as the other countries I visited on this trip) has been the people. I have traveled all over the world, and they were some of the kindest people I have ever met. Even with a massive language barrier (very few people speak English, and that is all I know) they were always willing to help me. I was also stopped many times by locals who wanted to try out the few English phrases they knew
The best thing to do in Bishkek is just explore the city. It is a clean, beautiful city filled in abundance with trees. With it being fall, the trees were colorful, and it was a perfect day. At night, there are many fun restaurants around town to visit. Kyrgyzstan is filled with many different cultures. However, the most prominent are Russian or Mongol descent. The food is a mix of these and other cultures. I had a dish called Paloo, which is rice, vegetables, garlic, onion, different herbs and meat (I chose chicken). Another thing I loved here were the dumplings. Very delicious.
I truly enjoyed Bishkek. Can’t wait to share the rest of this beautiful country.