Have you ever driven past something a dozen times in Bishkek, looked at google maps, and suddenly realized there’s a park or some odd structure hidden behind those trees? Well, that’s exactly what happened with Flamingo Park on the southern end of Manas (south of the American Embassy). We’d passed the sign before and, as you an’t see anything from the road, I’d just assumed it was…a restaurant complex or something. But Sunday afternoon we were in an exploratory mood and decided to drive in and see. What we found was…. a children’s amusement park? A Chinese-style tea garden? A decayed Soviet relic? A mini world park? A eulogie to pterodactyls?
It’s kind of all of those…and more. When you drive in you’re first welcomed by a broken column of Roman charioteers. Inside you’ll find murals from Russian fables and mushroom-shaped ticket offices, amusement rides old and new (still terrified after my sole experience on a Bishkek rollercoaster), a dry ‘lake’ with a not-so-lurking loch ness monster, Japanese pavilions, a ‘Colorado Express’ train surrounded by fake mountains and arrow-pointing Indians. Then there are miniature onion-domed St. Petersburg castles, cement dragon and T-rex sculptures crumbling at the lips, a cafe area where couples sat eating cheese-oozing pizza, and another ubiquitous bouncey castle for the kids. In short, a rather mixed bag. Strange, but still less photographically interesting than Urumqi’s obscure abandoned old zoo. But probably fantastic if you have young kids, or a great date night if you’ve ran out of other ideas and plan to have some photographic fun.
How to get there: Go south on Manas, past Axunbaeva and the next intersection (Majestral). Take the first right after the abandoned Issyk Kul Hotel. By Bus: From Manas/Anywhere South of Toktogul take 265 or 266 going South. From Sovietskaya, take A8 (bus, not marshrutka) heading South.
Entrance: Free. It looked like ‘kid passes’ for the rides were 400, or 60 som/ride. But I didn’t look at the sign board too closely…