On my last full day here in Bishkek I went with Kurmanbek and one of his friends that will have a wedding party tonight to the animal market because they needed a sheep for dinner. While I had a lot of meat here in Kyrgyzstan, it was the first time where I had to witness the whole process from converting an alive sheep into pieces of meat. For those who rather would not like to hear this story, please don’t read the last section of this post. In the end I was not invited to the wedding dinner because of lack of space, but I honestly did not mind, I preferred going one more time to a restaurant in town – this time it was Sushi. The rest of the day I spent with disassembling my bicycle and packing it into the box.
Boxing the bicycle and packing my bags
After three months, the time has come to squeeze my bicycle back into a transport box in order to transport it as safely as possible back to Switzerland. Thanks to the large box we found two days ago, I only had to disassemble the handle bar, the front rack and wheel and the bike stand. Everything else I could leave attached and will simplify my task at the Zurich Airport when reassembling it.
As for my remaining bags: Turkish Airlines applies the weight concept, which means that I will have 30 kg of luggage available, but I can split it up into several bags. This is great because like this I can check in my bicycle bags directly and don’t need to find another box to fit in all bicycle bags.
Dinner at Japanese restaurant
I followed my line today with going to non-local restaurants – at least for dinner. I read on TripAdvisor that there is an excellent Japanese restaurant here in town that is run by a Japanese expat. I followed the advice and I was not disappointed. I had two plates of excellent Sushi, a miso soup, and for dessert a wasabi ice cream. Both service and food were excellent, the price however was quite steep and was at European norms for Sushi, but still it was cheaper than getting Sushi in Switzerland.
From a healthy sheep to three plastic bags of meat
Many of us like to eat meat, but many of us have never really seen the actual butchering of an animal. While back in Switzerland we go to the supermarket and buy the meat there, here in Kyrgyzstan it is tradition to get the meat for a party directly from the animal market. And because meat does not grow on trees and can be harvested, the first thing you do is you go to the stable where dozens of sheep are cramped into a roughly 20 m2 fenced area. And then it’s like with vegetables and fruit: you select one, you touch it to see if it satisfies your demands in terms of meat, fat. If not, the farmer will send that sheep away and it will live another day and pull another sheep brutally on its rear leg towards the customer.
Once the desired sheep is found, its legs are bound together and it is dragged around 100 m over to the slaughterhouse where it is waiting outside in the sun while its mates are already being but apart. Of course all waiting sheep are very scared and I assume they feel what’s going on, but because their legs are tied together they cannot really move.
Once it’s a sheep’s turn, it is dragged into the slaughterhouse on a bench and put on its back. The butcher cuts its throat and lets the sheep bleed out, afterwards he cuts off the whole head. I cannot say for how long the sheep suffered, but it seemed like it was unconscious very quickly. But that doesn’t mean it was dead instantly. The legs of the sheep are usually still moving even once the whole head is cut off and when the sheep is opened with the knife.
Around 20 minutes later, the butcher is done dissecting the whole sheep. The customer receives three plastic bags with all the parts of the sheep incl. the head (which is also eaten here, they literally eat everything of the sheep except the fur) and the innards.
Even though watching an animal being butchered is brutal, I think everybody should witness this once in his lifetime. It gives you the complete picture what eating meat means, even if the butchering conditions in Switzerland might be a bit better than here in Kyrgyzstan. As for me, I certainly will continue eating meat, but I will do so with more appreciation.