Some interesting observations in Central Asia

Trip Start Sep 04, 2008
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Trip End May 19, 2009


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Where I stayed
Philemon House

Flag of Kyrgyzstan  ,
Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm sitting in the nicest place I've stayed since I left the U.S. - unfortunately, I'm paying almost as much for one night as I pay for my entire month's rent at my apartment in Thailand. Living expenses in Central Asia seem to be very high. Anyways, the place I'm staying at is a very nice bed and breakfast in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
 
Now, a lot of things have happened since the last time I wrote a blog, and it wasn't even that long ago. I often struggle to find some sense of organization for my posts, but I think I'll go with chronological for this one.
 
Saturday - First thing in the morning I went to a local Kazakh school and recorded a sports ministry session, where five youngsters did some soccer training. Then I went to another school and interviewed a few kids about how much they enjoy the classes taught by the guys I'm staying with. Then I met (soon to be HCC missions pastor) Andy at the Mall for lunch. We chit-chatted for a while, and I introduced him to my YFC folks. I had some turkish beef stuff that was tasted okay, but I really wish I hadn't eaten it (I'll get to that later - this is chronological, remember?)
 
Moving onward, after lunch I took a Taxi with Laura to the city and I saw all of the "official tourism spots", including "old square", "new square", some great parks, and even a brightly colored Russian Orthodox Church, with the roofs like you see in all the pictures of Moscow and St. Petersburg. That was pretty awesome. One thing worth noting is that apparently of fridays and saturdays, married couples will go to a monument of some kind to celebrate... I walked around all the parks and monuments for hours, and I probably saw 25 brides all dressed up and happily taking pictures with their husband and friends. At one park, I could spin around and count 9 wedding parties. The coolest part it that wedding party tradition calls for renting expensive white german sports cars, and decorating them with ribbons - great for the eyes.
 
After that, I went to "English Club" which was a completely free, and completely packed class taught by a missionary couple. They made me introduce myself, and for 15 unexpected minutes, I answered questions (in english of course) from a variety of curious kazakh people. As part of the day's lesson, the teachers (who are from Tennessee) taught the class to sing along with some trashy Rascal Flatts song - it was incredibly painful to hear.
 
We went from English Club to the mountain, where I got to see the entire city from above. It was fantastic, but also very touristy. The viewpoint we went up to had shops, restaurants, Cedar Point style arcade games, little souvenir shops, a small roller coaster, and a rock climbing wall. Also, IT COSTS 50 CENTS TO USE THE PUBLIC RESTROOM!!!!
 
I got home, rather late that night, and having not eaten anything since lunch, I thought my stomach was growling from hunger. I ate some cereal and an apple, and things only got worse. It was very hard to fall asleep because every 30 seconds or so I would get a hugely painful stomach cramp.
 
I woke up this morning with a sore throat, and as I got ready I felt like I was going to throw up the entire time. I let some really nasty stuff go in the toilet. I skipped breakfast, knowing that I would probably throw up anything I ate, and made my way to record a home church session. Again, it consisted of listening to an hour long teaching from the Bible, in Russian. I then skipped lunch, still feeling that I would throw up anything I ate.
 
About 2:00 I was taken to the bus station in Almaty, to get a taxi to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Laura came with me, and I'm very glad she did, because I don't speak a lick of Russian, and so I would have had no clue what was going on. We started out on our journey, me, laura, some creepy young middle eastern guy, a russian woman, and the old kazakh taxi driver. About halfway through the trip, we got a flat tire. Here's where you need a better description of the taxi situation. You do not get into a yellow ford crown victoria, owned and operated by a central company, but rather, you give a guy with an old Audi about 20 dollars and he takes you in his car to Bishkek. So, here we are, in the middle of the Kazakh wilderness, about 40 degrees outside and probably 30 mile per hour wind, and we have a flat tire. To make situations better, even the spare is completely flat. A few cars pulled over to help, and although none could, one took the creepy middle eastern guy with him, which was a nice relief. Eventually, some worthy dudes in a black mercedes pulled up and had a pump, to fill the spare! The rest of the trip was less then exceptional. Me, the sick to the stomach one, had to suffer through a hot old car ride through rainy mountainy roads, and to make matters worse, the driver had about 9 cigarettes with the windows closed. Nothing soothes a sick stomach like a hot car and second hand smoke.
 
But, now I'm here, and I'm very tired. I haven't eaten in 24 hours, and I still feel every bit as sick. Hopefully a good night's sleep will cure all of this.
 
Until later,
keep it real in the hood my broskis.
Stephen
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