Saturday, December 29, 2007

Interesting Things I Learned from Trip 1

Here are some interesting things I learned in the short period we spent in Bishkek:

Ded Moroz (pronounced Di-yed Mor-Oz) = Grandfather Winter. He is dressed just like Santa Claus but he has no reindeer to speak of, doesn't shimmy down any chimney's and I'm not sure about Mrs. Claus. However, like our Santa here, he distributes gifts to children as well.

Yolka (like Polka but with a Y) = Christimas Tree, except they don't celebrate Christmas so I'm sure that is not a direct translation. These are just like ours, decorated with shiny christmas balls, tinsel, garlands etc. I also didn't see gifts under any of them.

Young and some not so young adults are very fashionable Moscow style. Nice winter boots, skinny leg jeans, or mini skirts, or high heels walking around in Bishkek, sometimes in the snow. I on the other hand with my big lugsole Uggs, was slipping and sliding on the icy sidewalks in true California girl fashion.

Young adults listen to rap and rock. Yes, they know who Fifty is and even understand his lyrics. I live here and I don't!! Go figure that out.

There aren't very many new cars in Kyrgyzstan. Too expensive - although we did see some SUVs, even a Lexus that looked fairly new. Most are used cars that are imported from Japan, Germany and US.

They use sand to de-ice their roads and drivers have little regard for lane dividers.

The mall (Zum) is filled with individual merchants, unlike our big corporate store type malls. Bill thinks the US should adopt this model. It would be good for small businesses and we would have so much more variety than just the Gap, Macy's and Pottery Barns.

Diet Coke is not super popular but regular Coke is. And they only offer the huge 1-liter bottles when you order a Coke at the restaurants.

Good brewed coffee is hard to come by. They use instant. They probably think we are crazy for wanting to spend the time and effort to brew our fresh cups every day. If only they knew how much money Americans spend at Starbucks.

The Temir Komuz or Jews Harp is a favorite instrument to learn. Kids are taught how to play this instrument in school. Of course, Bill bought one. It is a rather cool looking thing. Here's a link to a YouTube video of someone playing one.

I'm not sure if medical insurance even exists in Kyrgyzstan but if it does, most people don't have it.

Ski slopes are an hour away from Bishkek. I wonder if we can swing this on the next trip. Not a priority but it would be very cool.


Unknown said...

When you go to Almaty you'll see all sorts of fancy cars... they were everywhere!! Hummers, SUVs... you name it... the only thing we didn't see was a Land Rover. Bishkek didn't have nearly the cars that Almaty did.

M and I teased that we were woefully underdressed the entire time we were gone!

The 3-in-1 coffees aren't bad. I love coffee (Starbucks...mmmm!!) but I didn't mind those (Dima told us to ask for a "nescafe" and that's what we'd get... he did brew us a coffee once and it was the strongest espresso I've EVER had)

Mala said...

We learned many interesting things on our trip. Did you try the hugely popular 'national drink'? You may have seen the billboards every 20 yards or so (Crazy looking kamakazi guy with a wicked smirk?) Not only can you find this beverage at all the little stores, but usually also available every quarter mile or so being sold by an elderly lady, at the end of her driveway from a oversize cooler on an old card table. Anyways, my husband let curiosity get the best of him and wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. I missed his initial reaction when he took a big gulp, but it was enough to warn me to not even consider taking a sip. Unfortunately I was still brave enough to take a sniff despite the unsightly 'chunks' that were found around the rim of the bottle. It was all I could do to maintain any bit of composure as I ran with the bottle in one hand and my other hand firmly over my nose as to prevent any possible chance of getting a second wiff, as I hurled the bottle into the nearest trash can like a live granade. The drink consists of very fermented (read: spoiled) mare's milk, and as if the lumpy, stomach-turning concoction wasn't bad enough, it's also carbonated! Our coordinator was never without a jug of it. I still have nightmares.