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Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Return of the Prodigal Daughter

Every time I land in Bishkek, I am filled with mixed feelings – excitement and worry. On one hand I look forward seeing my family and friends, on another – I always wonder: will I connect with the city? Will it recognize and welcome me, the prodigal daughter who has left it in the end of the 1990s? I have visited Bishkek in the last couple years several times. I hardly go to new trendy places and popping everywhere Western-style cafes. Instead, I look for clues to put together in my mind the image of the city I used to know.

I have grown up and moved on, so did the city. It has changed tremendously since the times I walked as a little girl on its avenues. I no longer recognize many of the streets, buildings and faces. They seem all so foreign, so distant from my memories. And only few signs like my kindergarten (which is still a functioning kindergarten with original building and playgrounds), old alleys and frescos of the Soviet-built buildings bring the memories back.

If you ever visit Bishkek, make sure to do following:
  • Go to chaikhana for proper tea experience
  • Visit one of the big parks, like Victory Park or Dubovyi Park
  • Take a trip to the mountains outside Bishkek
  • Buy some fresh veggies and fruits at the Osh Market
  • Pop into State Historical Museum for some extra knowledge
  • Treat your eyes and ears at the Philarmonic, Opera or Drama Theater
  • Pay your respect at the WWII Memorial or check out infamous Lenin statue
  • Read a newspaper or book sitting on one of the benches of the Erkindik Avenue
  • Watch changing of the guards or check your email (thanks to free wi-fi) at the Main Square
  • Stock up on latest Chinese fashion at Dordoi Market
And most importantly, have fun and try to meet some locals. They are lovely, trust me (I used to be one of them)!!!
My first school
School running tracks…I came close to last almost each time!
Apartment building I lived in for 16 years
Rundown play ground
Central Asian irrigation system – aryks
South Gates area
Victory Park
Check out snow mountains
Main square – Ala-Too Sq
Toktogul Monument
Opera Theater
Bayalinov Library
Marx and Engels
Drama Theater
My Alma mater – American University in Central Asia
Government Office
Lenin forever!
Kozhomkul Monument
My lovely kindergarten!
Mayor’s Office
TSUM Shopping Center
Bishkek’s Big Ben
State Historical Museum
Guards at the Ala-Too Square
Outskirts of Bishkek
New Year tree on Ala-Too Square
State University building
City dogs
Sugar cotton candy, yummmm!
Bishkek cakes


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