We contacted a company (all done by What’sApp) to arrange a driver from Almaty, Kazakhstan to the border of Kyrgyzstan and then another driver on the Kyrgyzstan side to take us to the capital city of Bishkek.
Our first non-English speaking driver had a black Camry that was huge (unlike American Camrys) with leather seats and more bells and whistles than typical – the back seats had electronic reclining adjustments. Very unusual and especially for the price we paid. His mission was to get us there in half the time it should take. Time is money! Poor Bill had to ask him to slow down to help curb my fear of crashing.
The two driver system is genius because the line of cars at the border was insanely long. We just walked on through easy peasy.
The driver on the other side surprisingly spoke English. He had taken it in school 20 years ago and said he was rusty for lack of using it. It was the first time in many, many countries that a driver/cabbie could communicate with us.
Kyrgyzstan is another landlocked country in Central Asia. It borders Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China.
Bishkek is another spread-out city with virtually no beautiful historical buildings. It looked and felt like a throwback to Soviet times. The one thing it did have was a long walking park with tall trees and gorgeous roses in full bloom. It included a vast carnival and kiddie park, selling cotton candy at 10 am.
Groups of old men gather in the squares around the old soviet buildings – squatting on their heels ala Viet Nam.
Adorable are the older women with colorful scarves wrapped around their hair. Usually contrasting the colors of their dress to make it visually interesting and beautiful.
Zhang Qian crossed near here and documented his travels in 138 B.C.
Numerous Buddhist and Muslim rock inscriptions surround mosques, temples and Christian churches from the 800s through the 1600s.
In town a vast and bustling market remains. Outside the city nomadic tribes live in their yurts and move, livestock among the foothills and steppes.
We’re wearing out the treads on our shoes as we explore.