(This post wasnt published due to poor wifi, it fits in sequencially between ‘Visa fun’ and ‘Bishkek to the border’)
I gave myself a lie in until 0800 and then walked a few blocks to one of the main roads to catch a bus which would take me to the long distance bus terminal. I knew that the bus ran both ways along the street and made sure I got on the correct side. I also knew that the bus terminal was about 5km out of the city but I still kept my eyes peeled, after about 45 minutes on the bus we turned off the main street. I had convinced myself that it would turn around any minute/we were just doing a loop and then returning to the road. And we did eventually but only after about 40 minutes, at this point I asked the driver where the bus terminal was and after getting someone to translate he said he would point it out to me. Half an hour more and he points it put to me. Hidden behind roadworks and a row of shops I wasn’t surprised in had missed it when going the other direction but I was furious with myself form wasting so much time.
The bus I got was going to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. It took us just over 3 hours to reach the border and the crossing was straight forward and I entered my 68th country with ease. Half an hour the other side and I was on the outskirts of Bishkek. It still being relatively early in the day I decided to walk the hour and 20 minute journey to my hostel, knowing it would give me an opportunity to see the city centre. It was over 30 degrees so it didn’t take long for me to start sweating but it was worth it, the centre was interesting but underwhelming, the couple of statues and government buildings were reasonably impressive but they didn’t need too much time spent on them. It was another half an hour from the centre to the hostel and when I for there I was ready to sit down. However I couldn’t find it as the address didn’t correlate to the map and at neither location was the hostel to be found. I had spent about 5 minutes looking when a guy pulled over on a motorbike and said “are you looking for the hostel?” Apparently he had been looking for over an hour and not found it, I decided I would ask at a bar on the corner of two roads. As soon as I asked that said “yes, its upstairs”. There wasn’t a sign in sight of the hostel but sure enough it was above the bar.
The biker was a 45 year old Pole who had biked across Russia and was now returning to Poland via the Stans. Also staying in our hostel were two girls, Lizzy (Irish) and Tania (American), who are teaching in Almaty and had just come for the weekend. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting about life and our various travels. We were all then invited to have dinner with the Kyrgyzstan family who run the hostel. Dinner consisted of bread, a noodle and veg dish and deep fried aubergine slices with tomatoes, all of it was delicious washed down with a few glasses of local beer (11%). We then spent the rest of the evening chatting over more beers until Tania decided she fancied seeing the city at night, cue the owner saying he could take us into town instead of getting a taxi. Once there he gave us a guided tour telling us about the history of the statues etc. On pour return to the hostel we finished the night off in the bar downstairs accompanied by some very suspect dancing from a Russian couple.