Our last but one day. What a great time we have had! We still speak not a word of Russian but we now feel brave enough to travel into Bishkek and wander round the city on our own.
Aina took us into the city centre and pointed out the two places we particularly wanted to visit. And then left us to it!
First place the Mikhail Frunze museum. Ian had never heard of this person but it seems he was at one time a potential successor to Lenin but due to being at odds with Stalin died early, under suspicious circumstances.
This was an …interesting ….. museum. Loads of memorabilia loosely related to Frunze with his life story and history told from a Russian perspective. He was a Bolshevik and involved in the Russian civil war. He was born in ‘Pishpek’ and the house of his birth is found on the ground floor, as the museum was built around it. Ian was fascinated by this museum. I enjoyed parts of it but enjoyed people watching the elderly ladies who policed each floor. There were very few visitors to the museum whilst we were there but I did not feel it was well advertised!
Time for coffee after this visit but finding a coffee shop was easier said than done. We were a little way away from the main shops and restaurants. But it was a lovely day and a rather smart restaurant garden beckoned. We asked if they did coffee and the waiter said that they were clearing up from an event the previous evening but please come this way. And he placed us at a table out of the way of all the frenetic activity. The coffee was lovely and we spent a good 30 mins soaking up the atmosphere.
Now for the State Museum of Fine Arts. No pictures as they were not allowed! First we had to find it but with the help of google maps we arrived at a very square concrete building with the most fascinating collection of textiles and paintings depicting life old and new in Kyrgyzstan. I loved the felt and woven room screens and wall hangings. And the paintings of ordinary Kyrgyz people. Including Kok Boru! There were lots of tourists here and we tagged on to a guided tour in English. Both museums were lacking in English translations, although more so Frunze’s museum!
Well past lunch time now and we had decided to return to the coffee shop we had passed some time earlier in our holiday. But this was quite a challenge. Where was it? We knew it was near the UN building, and we needed to go through an ‘underbus’ (Aina’s word) to get to it but we disagreed which way we needed to go and of course there were several branches of this cafe. But after a few false starts and a long walk we found it!
After a leisurely lunch we headed for the Post Office to see if they had a philately counter but when we got there, nobody spoke English so Ian decided not to attempt to explain. He had thought that being a relatively recently independent country it might be possible to collect all the stamps but he will need to look into that back home.
So we went to find a taxi back home. This was an adventure. It cost 200 SOM to come into the city previously. I showed the taxi drivers at a rank the address and immediately one guy asked how much? I asked him what he wanted. 800SOM says he. What says I! We only paid 200 previously. We settled for 400. All of £4 remember. All with virtually no English.
Home uneventfully in time for a lovely family meal and evening with Aina, Omar, Altynai and Amir. Altynai demanded Ian read the English books we had taken them. Would he say no?!!!