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October 9, 2002

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Ready to cross into Kyrgyzstan? To get there from Almaty, we rode a trolleybus out of town to the 'aftovoksal,' or bus station. Rusty buses and small mini-vans crowded the parking lot. We listened for drivers shouting out their destinations, and stopped when we heard, "Bishkek! Bishkek!" For 500 Tenge ($4) we boarded a 'matrushka,' or mini-bus, a throwback to seventies style décor with rugs draped over seats and the dash. Four hours later we pulled up to the Kyrgyzstan border post, very laid back, we had to stop our bus and backtrack into the customs office to demand paperwork - a declaritsa - that proves we went through customs (without this paper we're liable for fines). Then our bus dropped us off on the outskirts of Bishkek. We knew enough Russian to ask for the right bus downtown, and before we knew it we were wandered the streets of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital.
Passing the low key Kyrgyz border we see the mountains that loom over Bishkek.
Fishing in your room? We find dried fish hanging in the bathroom of our hotel room. The deshurnaya ('floor lady,' the woman attendant always on duty at the end of the hallway of every hotel) takes it away. We thought it might be some sort of 'welcoming fish,' like chocolates on the pillow, but no such luck.