Osh: Welcome to Kyrgyzstan


No one could sleep or sit still, or relax for the entire ride. Finally, we reached Osh at about 6:20AM. Plat wanted his money right away and we explained that we needed to check into a hotel first. We hunted around for one, and he got us close by but then just panicked instead of being of any help. Of course he was extremly exhuasted and paranoid about whether he would be paid. I felt bad for him, but I was also pretty mad that he refused to listen to us or communicate his thoughts in an efficient way so we could listen to him properly. Language barrier or not, he really didn’t make it any easier on us. Still, I tried to set his mind at ease and explain what we were doing each step of the way, looking for the guest house. No one would let us call, whether because it was not possible or it was expensive to them I do not know. Finally, we met an excited woman who worked for a restaurant there that was just starting to prepare for the day. Her name was Sonia, and she head all her front teeth in gold, as we would find many people in Osh have. She walked around with Andy and I to find the Osh Guesthouse. The directions in the book started at a trash heap and went to one of the apartment buildings in the vicinity. So we walked around in the early hours of the day. Sonia asked some people questions in Russian, but no one knew. Finally I found a sign, and from there eventually the trash heap. She called the place and we met Ali, who told us they were full but kindly started calling around to find another place to stay. These places are basically apartments that people own and rent out to guests as added income. He walked back with us to the car and explained the situation to Plat as we awaited a call from one of his associates regarding a room. Plat apparently was cursing and said some nasty things to Ali, who calmly related this to me in English (not the actual cursing, just the situation). He told us Sonia requested some money for her help, so we gave her a dollar and she told us to come back to te restuarant. I think the money was for phone use, which may be very expensive in Kyrgyzstan. I’m not sure yet.
Finally we somewhat calmed Plat down long enough to pay him, get our things and thankfully bid him farewell. It’s no wonder we didn’t take him up on his offer to take us further to Bishkek the next day. No thanks.
Ali on the other hand was very calm and sincere in helping us. This was his business, but unlike many people we had met, he knew how to conduct his business in a manner that made you want to come back. The city had not quite awakened yet, and it felt pretty uncomfortable after that nasty entry into the country. Ali introduced us to an apartment owner how was just finishing cleaning up the place for our use. There was no electricity yet as it was turned off every night and then came back in the morning. We were very grateful and they were very relaxed about the fact that we would change money and pay them later. So got the key and collapsed on the beds for a few hours.
I awoke a while later, and took a cold shower and woke the guys up so we could see the city some before leaving the next day as we planned. With the sun up and some rest it seemed a lot more pleasant.
We went back to Sonia’s restaurant for some food. There were all kinds of kababs, and we figured out what was what by making animal noises. Sonia was hilarious and more than happy to help us non-Russian speakers. After some food, Andy tried contacting his friend’s friend in Osh, then we walked down the street through a bazaar, looking around until we got to Soloman’s Throne, which is a rock hill with a small room on top.
We played some music at the base and more than made our admission money back. Omar, as a joke opened up his drum case and people put money in as we played. After a few songs we said thanks to the people and walked up the stairs to the top. My legs sort of quivered by the time I reached the top. Too much tiredness. The view of Osh was very beautiful. In the room there was an old Muslim man speaking in Russian. Along the way to the top there were rags tied to trees. Local people believe that the Prophet Mohammad prayed here once, though I have never heard of him travelling here. Expecting mothers tie rags in hopes of improving their fertility as some say the hill has the shape of a reclining pregnant woman (I didn’t notice that).
Afterwards we walked back down and checked out a 3 story yurt which was a museum of folk crafts and traditional Kyrgyz clothing. There were beautiful wall hangings made of felt and some musical instruments and other interesting crafts. From there we crossed the street and entered a place called the Art Faculty. All the rooms were closed inside, except one where I found two people with a sound mixer and computer. I asked if they were musicians (mausikaar) and they nodded, so of course we sat down and played music with them for a bunch of hours, before heading out to dinner with the pair. They were both music teachers there, and we had a lot of fun playing music and acting things out to communicate outside of that. At dinner we laughed a lot and talked, before heading to an internet cafe.
One of the guys at the internet cafe wanted to communicate to me so we talked a bit using google translate to go from Russian to English and back again. The electricity went out (as it does at that time every day in Osh), so we took a taxi back to the hotel. I don’t think it is safe to be out at night, particularly as we don’t speak the language, and it is very dark all around, so we went back and slept.

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