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October 18, 2002

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What can we say about Bishkek? It's more exciting than warm milk without sugar. While we wait for our Uzbek visa, we're running out of things to do in this town, so we visited the US embassy and made use of their fine facilities: free Internet for US citizens! On the street we met two Canadian ex-pats (it's easy to spot any foreigners, they stand out like fire engines), Graham and Lynn, who have lived in Bishkek for years. They've retained sanity (as far as we could tell). We met for dinner and discussed their new home country. They told us how the Kyrgyz have struggled without help from the Soviet Union: old people live destitute, unemployment freezes the country, and most people survive hand-to-mouth. It's especially bad for ethnic Russians that have remained because discrimination keeps them out of higher echelon jobs. Unlike most colonizers, the Russians didn't leave their own ethnic settlers wealthy. However, as far as we've seen, being poor hasn't turned the country tense; the local people, Kyrgyz and Russian alike, are open and friendly.
Waiting for the Uzbek consular is like 'Waiting for Godot' (you know, that guy in the play who never shows up).
Bazaar posers
Ex-pat dinner, Graham and Lynn