Taverna 12 Kaminov: Travel Review

Taverna 12 Kaminov (12 Chimneys)
From our stay over the 2-4 of May

For a mountain retreat less than an hour from Bishkek, Taverna 12 Kaminov is almost really quite nice. A set of six two-bedroom pinewood bungalows separated from the road and restaurant by a clear spring crossed by a wide bridge settled with wicker furniture, nestled in a valley with mountain views on both sides, complimentary breakfast, easy access to hiking trails. For this I can overlook the slight accumulation of junk on one side of the yard, the absence of hangers in the closet or toiletries in the bathroom.
But – on the other side of things – everything seems like it should be 40-60% cheaper, as it’s in Kyrgyzstan where salaries and overhead costs are comparatively low. The cabin is $100 per night (now actually $92 with the changed exchange rate), where I would expect $40-60 (though, to be honest, all hotel prices in northern Kyrgyzstan seem inflated). The restaurant is way over-priced – and slow, and petty. Instant coffee takes half an hour from order to table – and costs twice the going rate in a Bishkek cafe (actually the same price as a cup of real coffee in an American restaurant). Dinner Friday night cost twice what I would expect for the same meal in Bishkek, running to $127 for salad, bread and grill for four people, few garnishes included. 400 som (eight dollars) for a fire in the stone hearth next to the table where we ate dinner outdoors; the same amount for the three plates of fried eggs that came with our only-partially-complimentary breakfast. Odd thing about that – Friday night we were asked what we wanted for breakfast, and when we wanted to eat. Breakfast is (supposedly) included in the cabin price. We asked what was available, and chose from the options given porridge, tea and eggs. This morning, after we had finished the rice porridge, the garçon came out and told us that the eggs were ready – but that they would cost extra, as they were not included in the free breakfast. Weird, really weird. Especially as the amount we paid for the eggs would more than buy the entire breakfast we ate at a place with similarly laconic wait service in Bishkek, and the eggs we ate would be approximately $0.60 in the market.
Two other things about our stay were a little…off. First – the Internet didn’t work the entire weekend, and while we asked them to send someone to fix it no less than five times, and they said they would five times, in the end all they did was give us a number to call…and the number was empty. Second – when we were ready to leave we went to pick up my friend’s ID, held as deposit, and were told that the manager had gone to town and taken his ID with her. So we had to meet her at a bus stop some 20 kilometers away on the outskirts of Bishkek just to get his ID back. No explanation of why she took it with her in the first place…
Overall, for Bishkek it’s a nice base to explore and hike in the surrounding mountains, but far too overpriced, and with some obvious management issues.

Kyrgyzstan – a strange country. I still can’t wrap my head around the pricing system, the wobbly economy, in the north. There doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation between salaries, supply, demand, market prices of raw materials, and cost to consumer of finished products. Where does all the money go – from overpriced eggs in a country where farmers and waitstaff are paid so little? Why doesn’t competition level out the prices? Where does the consumer money come from to sustain so many places like this – overpriced restaurants and cafes and clubs and hotels and bars – in a country where local salaries are so low, and the volume of trade (and hence potential for business profits) is itself rather small and limited?
So, T12K – nice for a weekend getaway. Take advantage of the mini fridge and hot water boiler; pack a picnic and go hiking, don’t eat in the restaurant.

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