Shame on you, Bishkek! (UZ 2/6)

All the cars and vans in Tashkent are white and small. Was this because the country produced its own vehicles and and these are ideal Central Asia specs? Or did the leader of the nation just like white and wanted no car to be bigger than his own? Both equally possible, I decided as I […]

Behind the seven borders is Tashkent (UZ 1/6)

The bus to Tashkent wasn’t even half full when we left Bishkek’s Western bus station at 23.30 on a rainy Sunday night. I was on my way to finally visit Uzbekistan. Since the beginning of this year EU citizens get to enter without visa. During the night we first crossed the border into Kazakhstan, passed […]

Animal Themed Review of ‘Polar’ (Netflix)

In one of the first scenes of Netflixes film Polar the protagonist shoots his little dog. We never see the dogs dead body and his killer buries him in his backyard in the next scene. This is strikingly different from how other murders in the movie are portrayed. People are shot and tortured through most […]

How I was called the Kyrgyz N-word

Yssyk-Ata is a resort close to Bishkek famous for its natural hot springs. I had just hiked up and down the valley and was now relaxing in a pool with another German woman. We let the hot water spurting from a pipe run over our backs. A woman passed us to stand under a waterjet […]

Valentine’s Day Special: Dating in Kyrgyzstan

In summer I always notice how many young couples there are in all the parks in Bishkek. These young women and men sit or walk next to each other, sometimes hold hands, but only very rarely kiss. This probably strikes me because parks in the Netherlands and Germany don’t have that many people who are […]

Putin, Trump, Jeenbekov – Presidential Confusion in the Classroom

My students played a game of charades in German speaking club last week. They put names of famous people in a bag. In the first round, they had to describe the person with as many words as they liked, in the second with just one word, in the third with pantomime. Some famous politicians ended […]

Anti-Wedding Activism in Bishkek

Last night an activist group left messages on the pavement in central Bishkek. It reads “Don’t take out a loan for a wedding!” in Kyrgyz and Russian. Wedding parties, “toi” in Kyrgyz, are a big thing here. People try to outdo their neighbours by organizing bigger and more spectacular tois. Some people go to work […]

Plastic Bags in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstani people love plastic bags for their groceries. Most take one every time they shop. I don’t like plastic bags because I know the Kyrgyz authorities aren’t very skilled in taking care of garbage. Everything ends up in landfills, where the plastic will remain forever. I want to leave as few plastic bags and bottles […]

Just another day in Kyrgyzstan

A friend texts me her daily press review: “Fucking hell, Folke! Two deputies kicked a civil servant out of parliament because of his clothes. Didn’t even listen to his report. Today some wankers are organizing a demonstration¬†on the central square against women marrying Chinese. And some gym teacher who worked in a school for two […]

Man in Black Jacket

He’s wearing blue jeans and a black jacket and he drops a big fat drop of saliva on the pavement in front of the mayor’s office. Manas watches him, high on his horse in the middle of Philharmonia square. Do I know for sure he wasn’t born in Bishkek? I don’t. Do I think spitting […]