Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: It All Ends in Tears
Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
76Trip End Feb 06, 2014
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The lady at our hotel reception kindly arranged for a driver to take us up there. Good thing too as the snow was a foot or two deep so 4WD was a must. With a fresh blanket of powder we were extremely excited then equally frustrated to find out the resort was closed. Furthermore it wasn't going to open until the weekend! WTF! Perfect conditions and they're not going to open for another two days?! Rubbish :-( It could have been so good.
Feeling deflated, and not keen to waste a further two days doing bugger all in Karakol, we had the taxi man take us back down the mountain and to a bus to Bishkek. As it was bitterly cold we were pleased when it departed shortly after we arrived.
The 6 hour journey between Karakol and Bishkek is a beautiful one as it follows the azure waters of Lake Issyk Kul which is sat in a bowl of mountains. It was a shame we had such a terrible time in Karakol as the area itself is stunning. Would I go back? Yes, but only if the timing was right. Summer for hiking. Winter for snowboarding. We were just unfortunate to hit the in between. Mind you, regardless of the weather I'd probably still hate the actual town.
When we arrived in Bishkek we did much the same was we had a few days prior - checked into the same hotel, dumped our bags and wandered down to Metro Bar. On entering we saw Simon and Ulzhana. Good thing too as we had all lost each others contact details from the time before. We were introduced to another English lad, Hugh, who worked as a solicitor in Almaty and was in Bishkek to renew his work VISA.
Another great night was had by all. Sam now believes he has an epic beard as a random guy
called him Jesus. Before we knew it, it was 5am and we were stumbling into the hotel. Whilst Sam was sorting something with reception I accidentally dropped our hotel key down the lift shaft. Just want you want at 5am! How or why I was ever given responsibility for the key in the first place I don't know. It's common knowledge I'm prone to losing things. To make matters worse we were told they didn't have a spare key! What hotel doesn't keep spare keys for their hotel rooms?! It was about that time I started to cry. Oh dear.
Eventually two maintenance guys were called to come and open the lift which they did but still they couldn't find the key. I told Sam that I might have told them to open the wrong lift but we didn't pass that information on as thankfully someone had found a spare key. Yippeeeee. Elated we went straight upstairs to bed.
Next day we had a bit of a role reversal where I was the one who felt ok and so braved the elements to go in search of food. Being my first outing without Sam since starting this trip I felt very independent indeed. Laden with food and cool drinks we spent a blissful day in the warmth watching movies. I've no idea how Ulzhana and Simon managed to make their noon flight to Almaty but they did.
Not wanting to spend US$50 a night on accommodation we checked out of Semetei and into the one and only private room at Hostel Inn Bishkek for US$25 per night. Ok place with brilliant location right on Chuy Ave. Run by a very nice and enthusiastic guy who is keen to bond and share his knowledge of Kyrgyzstan. The only problem is we're not that social when it comes to our lodgings. We tend to prefer to stay in our room rather then sit in the common room socialising. Bad I know but how else am I to get this here blog done if I'm constantly chatting with people. It's either that or we're out.
On one of our walks around the city we found Bishkek Park. A shopping mall which was almost like being transported back to London. Using Thailand as an excuse I indulged and bought some much needed summer things. We spent time in one of the cafe's sipping coffee before walking through a park and onto the bazaar. A thriving hustle and bustle of all things necessary - food, shoes, clothes, household goods etc. Didn't purchase but it was good for a browse and some photos.
A few times we've bumped into a guy we met in Odessa, Ukraine. He was the manager of our hostel out there and is in Bishkek to pick up his truck which broke down here. Been here for two months already trying to fix it and still has a few more to go. It's a nice city but not sure I could stay here for that long.
Tomorrow we are going to collect our passport and VISA from the Kazakhstan Embassy. Provided all goes to plan we'll then get in a bus or shared taxi to Almaty, some 4 1/2 hours away. Fingers crossed as we're due to fly from Almaty on Saturday!!
Taxi: Altamira Hotel to Karakol Ski Resort. 1 hr round trip for KGS 1000 (US$20) plus KGS 500 (US$10) National Park entrance fee.
Mini Bus: Karakol to Bishkek dep 1130 arr 1745. Price KGS 300 ea (US$6) no bag charge.
Hotel: Semetei. Very nice, good location but KGS 2,500/US$50 per night. Massive room, dbl bed, separate shower/bath & toilet. Internet at reception but not in room. Incl. breakfast but we were never up in time.
Hostel: Hostel Inn Bishkek. US$10 dorm room; US$25 private room, twin bed with own bathroom/toilet. Wifi, washing machine, kitchen, common room. Incredibly helpful manager. Best location in Bishkek.