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 […]

“They put me on the black list!” – Bishkek Taxi Driver Talks #3

“No need, no need to put it. It’s broken and dirty!” he says when I try to fasten my seat belt in is battered red Mercedes. He is an old man and is voice is creaking. “I thought you were Indian!” he says. “There’s many Indians here now.“ “They study medicine, yes? I also work […]

“They have great Espresso in Moscow” – Bishkek Taxi Driver Talks #2

He’s a young man and seems a little simple. He’s constantly checking his phone to look for the route and is holding it close to his face. “Are you English?” he asks, after about two minutes of driving. “I’m German. I teach German here, in KGUSTA.” I answer. “Oh. My cousin, she worked for the […]

Why Toilets in Kyrgyzstan are so Bad

Word in Bishkek is that houses built by Germans are the best. “The Germans know how to live!” is what some Kyrgyz believe. Most Germans left after the fall of the Soviet Union and the houses they left behind fetch high prices on the real estate market. “My cousin wanted to buy a German house, but […]