Tuesday 09 May 2023
Highlights: Arriving safely in Kyrgyzstan, Victory Day celebrations in Ala-Too Square, Exploring Bishkek
My flight (review here) from Istanbul safely arrived 5.23 am and after a lengthly Border Control delay I was reunited with my bag, the happiness on seeing your bag in a foreign country is very pure 🙂 The booked transport was interesting as the drive dropped me off half way to the hotel and put me in another car, my booked transfers never go simple.
I checked in at the hotel just before 7 am and was glad I had paid for a room for yesterday so I could get straight in and get a shower. After not sleeping for 36 hours I forced myself to stay awake just long enough to have the included breakfast and it was then a nice 3.5 sleep before exploring Bishkek.
Today turned out to be a celebration day in Bishkek and all former Soviet countries, it was Victory Day which commemorates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. As a result it was a public holiday and a lot of people were out enjoying the nice weather especially in Ala-Too Square.
Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan so there are a lot of important buildings including their Federal Parliament and the Philharmonic Hall, plus lots of statues celebrating leaders from Kyrgyzstan past.
In the evening I meet my new tour group, this section of the 26 day Five Stans of the Silk Road is actually titled Highlights of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan which goes for 9 days from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Almaty, Kazakhstan. I think only 4 people are doing the entire 26 day Silk Road trip.
Our CEO / Tour Leader for this section of the tour is IIyas Zamanov. There are 16 tour members on this tour, including a few who I meet during my Africa Safari tour (small world). As a result of the large group we will be travelling in two mini buses between stops, I’ve never done this so will be interesting to see the group dynamics in being split up. Tomorrow we start exploring Kyrgyzstan in depth.