Greg’s turn today,
Sat 30th August
The hotel in Naryn was an interesting building evidently a converted apartment block from the Soviet era the rooms were tight but perfectly adequate. Unfortunately for Bruce, Greg’s snoring level increased to the level that Bruce had to revert to sleeping in the bathroom, and only caught a few hours of sleep.
We were basically transiting back to Bishkek today a distance of about 350 km. as Ewen has reported roads are problematical, the older bitumen roads are badly deteriorated and can turn into a mass of potholes and rock requiring heavy breaking and direction changes. Then we were on a Chinese build highway that was as smooth as silk. We are on the Silk Road after all!
As at home, speed radar devices abound with the fine being 500SOM, evidently a donation to the officer of about 200SOM can be made as an alternative ! Radar detectors are legal here and seem to be the best solution. The one our driver has is a bit too sensitive but very effective! Currency conversion is about 50SOM to the dollar, average income is around $300 per month.
We arrived back in Bishkek mid afternoon and the first thing on the agenda was separate rooms for Greg & Bruce. Bad news for Bruce only available for one of the two nights we are here.
After scouting around a restaurant with pictures on the menu was found and resulted in an excellent meal. The waitress had enough English to help us out, words like cow and chicken. The meal was completed back at our hotel with fruit and ice cream purchased at local shops.
Sun 31st August
This is Kyrgyzstan’s Independence Day it celebrates their independence from the USSR in 1991. Bruce reported that he had a good night’s sleep. After breakfast we headed into the centre of the city and took in some of the sites these included, Victory Square commemorating the second world war, the opera house, then a check of our bags as we entered Altoo Square where the celebration was in progress. Traditional dances performed to recorded music. Bruce has uploaded a video to youtube Following this, the president spoke in Kyrgy and Russian.
Our tour of the city then took us to the House of Parliament, past Game Zone – this was a movie theatre as well, to the university and the Philharmonic Hall. We were surprised by the number of parks and squares included in the city design. There were lots of police around but apparently unarmed.In one of the parks close to Altoo Square a number of jumping castles had been set up and the children were enjoying these, there were numerous food vendors doing a brisk trade and everyone was in the festive mood. There is a public holiday tomorrow, that is the last day of the summer holidays and Tuesday is the first day back at school.
Nearly all the buildings, parks and squares were constructed during the late 1980s and in an attempt to create a city with a cultural heart. Really not possible for us to judge how effective this has been.
Bruce also uploaded a video of his horse riding experience.