More Mountains

Last week we had an accidental, incidental couchsurfer from Ukraine who had traveled up from Osh and remarked that the whole country of Kyrgyzstan is like one giant national park – except the cities, which are awful. Which is basically true. Every morning and evening we gaze on the mountains which grace our view, just half an hour from the city. A wall of superb green and folds of grey lit gold in the dawn or receding into the hazy dusk. But here down in the city – it’s really an ugly place. Poverty and new money, corrupt police, a non-existent system of government services, broken streets, hopeless lives, a barely sputtering middle class – always the feeling that half the city is just hanging on by their claws, struggling to scrape by, survive.
It’s a very different city for different people. Last year in Urumqi I had a Canadian couchsurfer – one of those twenty-something guys who always seems to befriend the most hip-yet-ironic people wherever he goes – who later visited Bishkek and wrote a blogpost in which he described Bishkek girls as the most suave he’s ever seen, making me think that he spent his whole time in upper-crust cafes, driving from hip hostel to cafe in a cab with tinted windows. (See the original post here; to be fair he did capture some of the contrast of Bishkek, but I’m still not sure how he came to that assessment of ‘all’ the women).
For Bishkek has that sleek, cultured glamour present in bits and spurts -and yet that’s far from all. In essence it’s a poor city, without any really solid promise of encompassing development and uplifting lives. There is money, but most of it isn’t clean. There’s a growing middle class – out of a large pool of struggling hopeful, hopeless college graduates.
So Kyrgyzstan may be one big national park – except for the cities – but for those of us who live in one of the few cities, daily life is quite different. Weekends too. Summer options in Bishkek are limited, as is the population of the middle class. Basically we have eating out, buying cheap ice cream in the square, going to one of three swimming pools, drinking, shopping at one of two malls, watching movies dubbed in Russian at one of two cinemas, and going to the mountains.
So today we went to the mountains.

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2 thoughts on “More Mountains

  1. Pingback: More Mountains

  2. Pingback: Bishkek Date Ideas - Mountains and the Sea

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