Well, my vacation is officially halfway over. Yesterday morning Dad and I bid adieu to France, after a week and a half of good times, and drove to the airport. There, we left on a plane going to Istanbul, Turkey, and then boarded another aircraft headed for Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
The flights were a different experience for us after riding on Delta and Air France airlines all the time. Both planes were part of Turkish airlines, and I was very glad they were. For starters, the background music was of the Turkish instrumental variety (which had some pretty sweet guitar in it). And the food was not your usual airline offal; no, they actually gave us a menu, and we got a three course meal with dessert! It was incredible.
We showed up in Bishkek at about 5:15 a.m. local time, which is 1:15 a.m. Paris time, which is 6:15 p.m. on Sunday, Cleveland time. Yep, it felt a little wacky. We got through customs, and then drove to our guesthouse, where we promptly fell asleep. We woke up after a few hours of rest, and got to meet some of the local people. The Kyrgystani people look similar to the Mongolians, but with a little Russian influence as well. They’re also very nice.
The culture here in Bishkek is different from America and even Paris. There is a more homey, friendly feel than the bustling City of Lights, and there are lots of people walking around here as well, even though gas is pretty much the same as back home. Their unit of money is the “som,” which equals about 2 cents, and their largest piece of money is a 5000 som bill, which is basically one hundred dollars. Also, they drive on the right side of the road, but their cars have the steering wheel on the right.
After introductions had been made, we all went out to lunch at a local Turkish restaurant. The menus were written in Kyrgyz on one side and Russian on the other, so one of the men translated it for us. I ordered pilmeny and plow (a.k.a. rice with beef and dumplings), and then just to be adventurous, I drank my first Coca-Cola™.
After we had finished eating, we came back to the hotel and relaxed our bodies. And then, to cap off a great day, it started snowing! My first day in Kyrgyzstan was definitely different from my first day in France, but I really enjoyed the feel of the culture and the taste of the food, and I can’t wait to learn more about this country.
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