Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan and only a 4h drive from Almaty. These two cities are separated by the mountain range. For singapore passport holders, a visa is not required to visit Kyrgyzstan for 30 days, which makes it even more enticing to explore this central Asian country.
Arriving in Bishkek where I had taken the minivan from the border (cost 30 som), I was greeted by the victory monument. It was a large square with a round sculpture in the middle and a couple was having their wedding shot taken there.
The sights of Bishkek range from noisy bazaars to interesting museums. The Lenin Museum, now known as the State Historical Museum , has archaeological exhibits, and a display of Kyrgyz carpets, embroidery and other applied arts. The upper storey has a vast shrine to Lenin and the revolution in Kyrgyzstan.
The unmarked marble palace full of chandeliered offices just west of the Lenin Square where the museum stands is the White House , the seat of the Kyrgyzstan government. It houses the president’s office and the Republic’s parliament.
Behind it is Panfilov Park , which is a place for young kids to play. A little beyond is the Dubovy (Oak) Park where people stroll on warm Sundays. The Museum of Applied Art also called the State Museum of Fine Arts exhibits Kyrgyz embroidery, jewellery, utensils and beautiful felt rugs worked by local artists. There is also a remarkable collection of reproduction Egyptian and classical statuary.
Some other museums of interest are the Geological and Mineralogical Museum and the Zoological Museum . TheAaly Tokombaev Museum pays homage to the famous bard whose contribution to Kyrgyz literature is unparalleled. The Mikhail Frunze Museum is dedicated to the life of Frunze, a Red Army General who kept Bishkek under Russian control through the turmoil of the October revolution.
In fact Bishkek was called Frunze from 1917 to 1991. The Manas Village is a complex of stages and arenas that were set up for the 1995 UNESCO sponsored Year of Manas. Like the popular Kyrgyz icon, the Village also symbolises everything Kyrgyz: decked out in stylised yurts, horses, horsemen and warriors. The biggest of Bishkek’s atmospheric bazaars is the Osh Bazaar . Shopkeepers, customers, porters and tourists mill around midst spices, silks, dried fruits, fresh fruits, foods, designer fakes.
The market is open everyday but is busiest on weekends. Another bazaar where you can shop for souvenirs and items of daily use is the Alemedin.