Travel to Kyrgyzstan – Episode 478

categories: asia travel

travel to Kyrgyzstan

Hear about travel to Kyrgyzstan as the Amateur Traveler talks to Eric Anderson about the central asian country where he has been serving as a Peace Corp volunteer.

Eric admits that he might not have been able to find Kyrgyzstan on a map before being sent to this beautiful mountainous country just west of China. Kyrgyzstan is the size of South Dakota and is about 70% mountains. “If you do want to take a trip to central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is the easiest country to get into. It is either no visa required or free Visa on arrival for 60 countries now. Kyrgyzstan is very easy. You just show up, get that free visa, they step your passport and you’re in central Asia.”

“The history of Kyrgyzstan is a little different from the other ‘stans. The people were a nomadic culture so they don’t have some of the same history and traditions that you would fine in a country like Uzbekistan for instance. Being so mountainous there’s a lot of of adventure sports to do. There’s a lot of hiking. You can go parasailing.”

Eric starts us with a couple of days in the capital of Bishkek. Getting around the country you will be traveling via a Marshrutka or a private or collective taxi. Within the city you also have the trolly bus which is what Eric recommends. There is even an app you can get for your phone via bus.kg. Bishkek is a very modern city. He recommends Osh Bazaar which is one of the biggest bazaars in the country. There are great souvenirs and great local watching. Do watch your valuables as there are pickpockets. The Dordoy Bazaar is also a huge bazaar made up of shipping containers. The State History Museum is worth a visit. None of the exhibits have English but check out the giant mural on the ceiling that was done in the Soviet time.

From Bishkek Eric recommends day trips to the old sanitarium at Issyk-ata and also Ala Archa National Park. “It is absolutely beautiful and there is also a lot of rock and ice climbing up there. If you’re coming for some of the extreme climbing, that is a great place to start.”

If you google CBT Kyrgyzstan you can find a listing of the 16 different community based tourism providers. “A CBT is a collection of locally based tourism companies. They offer home stays. They can arrange rides, horse tours or stays in yurts up in the mountains. Most regions have one and you can contact them via email before you come to Kyrgyzstan. In a lot of parts of the country they are going to be the only way to find lodging. There are not hotels in some of the smaller villages. It’s one of the best ways to see the country.”

As we tour around some of the countryside Eric describes visiting places like the lake at Issyk Kul, hiking at Karakol Peak and in the Jeti-Oguz Valley. From the Karakol Valley you can visit the Yurts in Jeti-Oguz up in the winter pasture lands. At Tash Rabat you can visit one of the old Silk Road buildings, one of the few from that time. Near the city of Osh the “capital of the south”, you will find a different mix of people. Osh is a more religious city. Near there is Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Kyrgyzstan has mountains, lakes, villages and walnut forests. Eric highly recommends a visit to this beautiful country.

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Show Notes

Eric’s Guide to Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek
Bishkek Public Transport
Community-Based Kyrgyzstan Tourism Centers
Osh Bazaar
Dordoy Bazaar
Bishkek State History Museum
Ala Archa National Park
Issyk-ata Sanatorium
Issyk Kul
Karakol
Jeti-Oguz
Ala-Kul
Naryn
Song Kol Lake
Tash Rabat
Jalal-Abad
Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain
Arslanbob
Kyrgyz cuisine
Kumis
Kok-Boru

Community

Spent several weeks in Wisconsin this summer doing research on a book. Just discovered your program on that state with the young lady from Madison. I found the North Woods absolutely fascinating. We rented bikes and biked for miles and miles. Never seen a state with so many miles of bike paths through the wilderness. Wonderful.

Squeaky cheese (cheese curds), pea and peanut salad, and Friday night fish fries even at the Mexican and Chinese restaurants were all culinary newbies for us.

Speaking of which have you ever done a show on eating your way around the world? In Paraguay, the pizza comes standard with peas, carrots, and sliced boiled egg. In Japan, they put the salad on top of the pizza. And don’t order a Canadian bacon pizza in Canada!

In Columbia they served meat empinadas in huge baskets before we ordered, like they do chips and hot sauce at Mexican restaurants in the US.

Your show on Japan discussed Octopus balls. They are made by street vendors and are delicious. You keep the balls turning or they burn. A favorite dessert in Japan is something I call “moldy bean balls.” Beans are mashed and mixed with something similar to molasses and then rolled and put under the sink in the dark until they get a pretty thick layer of mold on them. I stayed in four homes during my Fulbright period in Japan. All four proudly served moldy bean balls with dinner.

In Paraguay people would show up at the hotel room door and say, “You want anything? It’s complimentary.” Then they’d return with a huge platter of fruits, meats, and cheeses. This went on for a week. Then I was presented this enormous bill. Turns out the complimentary part was free delivery. My Spanish got appreciably better after that little episode.

Ecuador’s national food is cuy. You and I know it as guinea pig. They skin them and then run a stick through their mouth and out their anus so they can be roasted on a spit. The cuy all look like they just stepped out of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Why? Because they are killed by making a strong clap of your hands with the guinea pig’s head in the middle. Every one of them die saying, “Aaaaaaayyyy!” It’s a treat for Ecuadorians, but tends to gross out the Americans.

Later,

Bear

travel to Kyrgyzstan

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.



One Response to “Travel to Kyrgyzstan – Episode 478”

Jonathan Su

Says:

We are a family of five that are currently backpacking along the Silk Road for a year. Currently we are at Kyrgyzstan, so it was extra special to hear this podcast while traveling here.

While in Bishkek, we came upon a newly started walking tour twice a week called the “Bishkek Walks” (can find it on Facebook page) which tells the history of the people, building, events in Bishkek for the past 2000 years. It was very informative and we got to see photos in the past and compared to the present as we walked around downtown Bishkek. We also got to hear about the recent 3 revolutions (1991, 2002, 2010) and get a sense of what the future lies for the people here.

This podcast was right on and we had much laughs as we listen to the insightful comments from Eric!

Su Family (Jonathan, Annie, Olivia, Nathan, Joani)

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