I’ve been home for a little over twenty-four hours. I arrived back in the US around 10:30 or so Friday night, but didn’t get back to the house until around 1 AM Saturday morning. It took a while to get through customs at JFK and travel from NY to Lansdowne, PA. Thankfully Amy hired a driver to transport me from JFK to home, otherwise I would have been staying in Manhattan overnight and then coming home on Amtrak sometime in the afternoon yesterday. I learned a lot on my trip to Kyrgyzstan. I met a number of people and had a taste of Kyrgyzstan culture. It was an adventure…
My internal clock is still a little bit off. I woke up, wide awake, at 5 AM this morning and decided to go to the gym and work out instead of just staring at the ceiling for a couple of hours. Thinking back to the trip and the people, my single biggest impression is that the people of Kyrgyzstan love their country deeply. I wish Americans possessed a love for country as great as the Kyrgyzstan people have for theirs. Kyrgyzstan is made up of the Kyrgyzstan people who slightly resemble the Mongolians and a large number of people of Russian descent. The primary religions are Islam and Russian Orthodoxy. I was only in the Bishkek and Issyk Kul lake areas, but it seems there is a general tolerance and respect for all religions. This may change in the future as Saudi Arabia and Qatar spend more money in the country building mosques and importing Wahabism. There is literally a new mosque in every village from Bishkek to Issyk Kul. This is just my opinion, but I have a feeling Kyrgyzstan will be an entirely different country in another decade because of foreign Islamic influence.
As I stated in the previous paragraph, my week-long stay in Kyrgyzstan was centered primarily in the Bishkek and Issyk Kul regions. I hired a driver and a translator to accompany me on my trip east from the capital, Bishkek, to destinations as far as Semënovka to visit the Grigorievka Gorge. I visited a number of spots of historical and social importance in Bishkek and along the way when traveling east. I talked with locals, elders of villages, and a number of tourists from Germany and Russia. I was able to AirBnB a place to stay while in Bishkek, but had to arrange accommodations in a hotel and at a rural lodge when I left the capital.
In all, I think that one week was enough to see the capital and travel east along the northern banks of the Issyk Kul, but it would take another week or so to get a feel for the southern areas around Osh. I’m very glad I made the trip. I learned more than I can possibly relay in a single blog post. I took a number of pictures and posted a few of them to my Instagram account. I probably won’t ever go back to Kyrgyzstan, but I’m so very glad I visited. It definitely expanded my worldview and gave me valuable perspective. It is a wonderful country and I’m so very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit.