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10 things you cannot avoid seeing in Kyrgyzstan :

If you are a traveller, you’ll know that each place has its own peculiarities. Hong Kong with its tall buildings with huge openings for the dragon to pass,  Multi-coloured tum-tums in Bangkok, London and its red buses, Japan with its black-coat-thronged streets, and so on. We just cannot avoid noticing these even if we sleep-walked through the place. Here’s a list of what I found peculiar to Kyrgyzstan as a country. Interesting or not, do let me know :

  1. Blue : You cannot miss the colour blue. The waters of Issyk kul , the dominant lake in Kyrgyzstan, are blue and by blue I mean a striking ,crisp, glistening, aqua-to-all-shades-upto-cobalt- blue! The first look at that lake on the borders of Bishkek, is a treat for the eyes. The blue consumes skies and water both alike and you can’t help but feel quite the opposite of ‘blue’ as you realise your vacation just began.
  2. Beauty in nature : Vast plains & equally vast mountain ranges; gurgling streams snaking their way through gorgeous gorges; Snow-capped mountains peeking from behind mushy white clouds. If you are so lucky as to come across the autumn colours on trees and/or snow to add to these, you should have maybe bought the lottery ticket today.
  3. Traffic jams of a different kind : Flock of sheep blocking your path?, Herd of cattle mooing through your convoy?, or is it a pack of horses galloping past on the tar road? All the above suggest you are in Kyrgyzstan, the land of nomads, once part of the famous Silk route. If you are a city boy/girl, be sure if you can handle the smells that go with the territory!
  4. Br-unch-inner : Sunrise or sunset , the meals are a four- course affair. All meals include an elaborate spread. Not just in hotels but especially in local houses, the table is set with baskets of freshly baked bread, fruits like apples, peaches, plums, berries, adorning the table alongwith brightly coloured salads and roasted dryfruits. One tip: Try not to pluck the apples or Peaches from the garden outside,‘cause you will most definitely find these at your table; although I admit the fruit-packed trees can be quite tempting!
  5. Cars: It’s a country of another day and age! If you want to see the oldest versions of your VWs, Hondas, Mercs, Audis, you-name-it, you will find them here and in running condition too. The red Lada will confuse you to the point of what timezone you are in.
  6. Locals : Of course you see locals every place you visit; but it’s not very often you see any soul on the road in the remote areas of Kyrgyzstan. But when you pass through towns, you will come across cheering, waving , dabbing, kids wearing brightly coloured clothes. Smiling old ladies showing their golden teeth and equally bright souls. And then, occasionally, some sights will blow your mind. Like kids riding their horses to school!! Or guys smoking and chatting by the side of the road appearing like KGB spies and the only reason we know they are not is because -‘Don’t KGB spies have better things to do than spy on barren lands?’
  7. Bustling bazaars : When I say that, I’m sure you are imagining jackets and scarves or flashy clothes, leather pants, right? Wrong! Nothing of the sort. Even though, of course you’ll find those in the cities, I’m talking about the exotic weekly bazaar for trading livestock! You could buy a healthy stallion for say 50k in Indian Rupees. Trucks lined by the roadside and families with kids all engrossed in loading cattle and sheep into the trucks is a sight to see, as exotic as it gets!!
  8. Birds of prey : Eagles you will find by the side of the road, circling above your head, resting on almost every 5th light pole or at the very least on the shoulders of an eagle hunter wearing its cap. Definitely remember to clean your windscreen if you aren’t periodically spotting this bird of prey!
  9. Graveyards : You just can’t miss them! I’ve always found graveyards spooky. But here, open-to-sky lying in the middle of barren land are engraved tombstones that are almost poetic!
  10. Mosques and Churches right next to each other : True we have seen it before but be it in the city or in remote areas I noticed an unassuming Church next to a quiet little Mosque co existing in peace. Sigh! some places in the world are truly far away from the monetary or otherwise clean up drives, and I’m very sure its ‘cause they are closer to nature!

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