The goal for today was, to find a suitable cardboard box for transporting my bicycle safely back to Switizerland. As expected, it turned out to be much more difficult than just asking at the airport (like I did in Switzerland). After visiting Alamedin and Dordoi Bazaar in Bishkek without success, thanks to the help of my host Kurmanbek we found a big enough box at a local bicycle store. It is second hand, but in good enough condition to pack my bicycle.
Western morning in Bishkek
After weeks of local breakfast (bread, butter, jam, tea, yoghurt, eggs …) I really felt like having some Western breakfast. So instead of eating at our host’s home, I went to one of the Western cafés that exist here in Bishkek and satisfied my appetite with two mini-croissants, a piece of nut cake, a muffin, a hot milk, and some tea. As with all western things here, also the café was quite pricy for Kyrgyz standards, nevertheless, it was worth it and I actually consider going there again.
After the café I visited a Western-style mall named “Bishkek Park” which was just around the corner. Nothing impressive there, the usual suspects (shops) were present there.
Walk through city center
After the mall I had a walk through the city center and the government district. I really got a good impression of Bishkek. The streets were full of trees, there are many inviting cafés and restaurants for sitting outside, shops, and the government buildings also presented themselves in an impressive manner.
Second Hand in Kyrgyzstan
I already mentioned in earlier posts that basically almost all car that run on Kyrgyzstan’s streets (and in the neighboring countries as well) are second hand and usually 20-year old Mercedes, Toyota, and other solid cars. What I have encountered for the first time today however are second hand clothes shops. It allows the Kyrgyz people who want to dress in style to buy fancier clothes for a reasonable price. The shops are also made in an attractive appearance and if they had not written “Second Hand” outside, I would have thought it is a regular clothes shop.
Bazaars in Bishkek
Yesterday I already visited Osh Bazaar which is known for food and souvenirs. Today, on the search for a bicycle box, I went with Kurmanbek first to the smaller Alameddin Bazaar, and afterwards to Dordoy Bazaar. The latter one is truly impressive, it is the largest market in central asia and not only serves for selling to end customers, but also as a gateway for Chinese products to all Central Asian countries. I was told that around 20’000 officially work there, and probably a similar number unofficially. The whole bazaar is based on containers, and you can walk hundreds of meters per aisle to go from one end to the other. When looking at the satellite image of Bishkek, Dordoy bazaar can easily be spotted as a bright, white area in the north of the city with a diameter of up to 1 km.
Nevertheless, we were not able to find a suitable box in any of those bazaars. Luckily, at the same time a bike shop that we contacted yesterday told us that they have a box. The box was not for free, but I happily paid CHF 6 for it. After carrying the box home on foot through half the city center at 33°C, I relaxed the rest of the afternoon.
Dinner with friends after sunset
Just like yesterday, Kurmanbek and some of his friends stuck to the strict rule not to eat and drink before sunset during Ramadan. So we met with his friends shortly after eight and everyone was staring on their cellphone until it showed 20:50 and they finally could drink and eat. One of his friends mentioned that he works in a food shop and that it’s difficult for him to sell drinks and food during the day while being thirsty himself. And Kurmanbek asked me if he could borrow my bicycle in the late afternoon to go to the city because like that he uses less energy and liquid than going on foot. So today for me it was obvious that people really suffer from the rules of Ramadan. I am really glad that those rules don’t apply to me.