After an excellent night’s sleep, we were delighted to find that the hotel provided a great breakfast of indeterminate but tasty things. Having made the most of this, we set off for the Uzbeck Embassy for the majority of our party to get their visa. Keith and I had been able to get these in the UK but they had not been available from the other countries represented. Although there had been dire warnings of the length of time it would take, we went along because Saied was offering a city tour straight after the Uzbeck drama… In the event there was no drama. The visa requests were delivered and they were told they would be ready for collection later in the day – so we were off for the tour of Bishkek.
Our first impression of the City when we arrived proved to be very accurate – it is a busy, organised metropolis of many different nationalities. It is also a city of many statues. As we walked up to a large modern work representing the freedom of the Kyrgys people, where a flame constantly burns, a man passing said ‘Americans go home’ but this is the only animosity we have experienced thus far and we were all very quick to point out that we weren’t American and were given a smile in return.
Many of the parks, buildings and sculptures are very Russian looking, except for the big sculpture of Manas the mythical hero of what is reckoned to be the worlds longest poem. He is straight out of Kyrgyzstan folklore. The opera house is quite beautiful with its pillared frontage and figures of wisdom on the roof.
There are places and buildings associated with the various revolutions that have taken place, the most recent in 2010. All now is calm, except for the traffic which is quite frenetic.
Our tour over, we adjourned to a coffee shop and then Wendy, Sarah, Keith and I went off in search of a few more bottles of Chilean wine that Keith found in Karacol. This mission having been successfully accomplished we returned to the hotel for a rest.
The evening started with a round of beers and then we went on to a restaurant recommended for its vegetarian food, to get there we had to take a cab. We were looking for two as there were 6 of us, but the cab driver said we could all get in so we did, to much hilarity!