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 […]

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 […]

“We gaan je oren afsnijden!” – Vertrek uit Dushanbe

Het is kwart voor zes, ik ben op weg naar de plek waar jeeps naar Khorog vertrekken. De hostel eigenaar heeft gezegd dat ik een Landcruiser moet pakken, dan duurt de reis 12 uur. Anders langer. De straten van Dushanbe zijn nog bijna leeg. De is nog maar net opgegaan maar het is al warm. […]

Apricots, Aryks but no Arpa – A Day in Batken

When travelling by plane, mind and body don’t get the chance to make a natural transition to the new environment. The transition is very sudden. On the other hand, the transition already starts at the airport, when one joins the group of fellow travellers waiting for the check in. This morning I made such a […]

Vladivostok To Batken – Imam’s Story

After I had taken my seat on a flight from Bishkek to Batken, a tall Kyrgyz man sat next to me, immediatley shook my hand and introduced himself as Imam. He told me he had been in Bishkek to see off his nephew who had to Johannesburg to study Islamic theology. Before, he had studied […]

How to Get a Foreigner to Teach You English

Are you young, eager to learn English and live in Bishkek? Do you want to practice your English with one of the many foreigners coming in the summer or living here permanently? Here’s how to do it! Imagine you’re sitting in your mother’s kiosk one August afternoon and he walks in. A real chet-ölkölük! His sweaty blond […]

“My Second Wife is Independent” – Bishkek Taxi Driver Talks #4

For the first time Yandex taxi makes me and my friend wait. Finally the driver comes, in a green Volkswagen Polo. He’s a middle aged man with fine features. He asks where we’re from, what we’re doing here and so on.  My friend is from Osh and it turns out he studied law at Osh […]

The Only White Man in Karakol Animal Market

“You should be wearing boots!” The driver looked at my hiking shoes. “Why?” “Because there is going to be shit up to here.” He touched my knee. “Shit and mud!“ No Mountains, Just Clouds I was going to the Sunday morning Karakol animal market, the “mal bazaar”. The guide books said it was one of […]