Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bishkek, Day 1

Erkindik (Freedom) monument on Ala-Too Square, Bishkek

Currency: Kyrgyz Som (KGS)
USD 1 = KGS 43.40; KGS 1 = PHP 1.11

It is Sunday today so I have one rest day in Bishkek before the work starts tomorrow. I arrived at FRU around 2:30am today but got out of the airport around one hour after because of the long lines for visa on arrival and immigration. Tourist season + inefficient immigration procedures = nightmare.

The weather here is very pleasant, around 30C right now but at night it's about 20C. As I wrote during my last time here, Bishkek is a very walkable city. We just spent the last few hours walking around the city centre and the main city landmarks, which are near the Silk Road Lodge in which where we are staying. Not a bad small hotel, although I think it's quite overpriced given its amenities (EUR 105/night). I would've liked to post more of the pics I took today, but the hotel internet is EUR 4.00 for every 100MB of traffic.

Had lunch at the Arzu Cafe, around five minutes walk from the hotel. It serves good Central Asian food-- we had plov (below), mutton shashlik, and shorpo, all washed down with Stella Artois beer made in Kyrgyzstan (much better than the original, in my opinion).

I also bought qute a few grocey items at the Beta Stores, which is a 15-minute walk from the hotel. Beta Stores is a relatively upscale supermarket/department store in Bishkek, but a lot of products are very cheap compared to the costs in Manila. Here are a few price indicators:

1.5 litres mineral water = KGS 17.00
95 grammes fruit yoghurt = KGS 11.00
50 grammes green tea (in 25 tea bags) = KGS 28.00
1 kilo shelled walnuts, unsalted = KGS 351.00
1 kilo dried sultanas = 208.00

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