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October 19, 2002

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Kyrgyzstan Airlines - two words that probably shouldn't be together, to save time we will ride Kyrgyzstan's silver bullet. We arrive at Bishkek airport, an empty building. Even though we're standing in front of the domestic departures desk, no one stands with us, should this be a bad omen? Later we learn that the flight departs from a gate downstairs and we sail through a quick security check before boarding our plane. So far we feel okay but we haven't left the ground. We can hear the pilot perform a few checks and then we take off, on time we should note. The plane is a propeller job that skims low over the mountains and offers close-up views we couldn't beat even if we skied down the mountain. The disturbing part came when the stewardess kept going into the pilot's cabin with bottles of wine. After a wobbly landing, we arrive safely in Osh, the 'flip-side' of Kyrgyzstan. Southern Kyrgyzstan presents a different character, more frontierish and untamed, isolated from the North by the Tian Shan mountain range, and the local people stare at us as if we walked in from the moon.
Boardroom meeting at the Osh bazaar
Local priest greets two pilgrims
Stand in line to make a wish.