The last few days I’ve been involved in a planning meeting for a project on the “Oral History of Tajikistan since Independence.” It’s been a great meeting where we’ve discussed many plans… but while I was in the meetings Eric had all the fun. He spent his days relaxing in the luxurious room (hot running water and everything!) with CNN and exploring the city.
One place Eric wandered and explored and then later showed me was a great park in the center of town. The park is downtown surrounding some of the important government buildings (Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan). Eric’s busy schedule included time to sit in the park and finish his book (He says everyone should read "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer). One of our favorite things about the park is the number of sculptures that were scattered about. The sculptures weren’t all too interesting artistically, but the simple idea that were so many different sculptures to look at in the park was nice.
A ways down from the sculpture area was the children’s play area. There were all sorts of smaller games like you’d find at a carnival and rides you’d find at a carnival for that matter. Eric was surprised to see something that looked like a fair right there in the middle of the park. But I guess the karoke stands that lined the nearby street should’ve been a hint…. There are actually a lot of these kinds of parks in the cities of the former Soviet Union.
One of our favorite things about being in Bishkek has been the great restaurants. Around the corner from the place we had the conference was a pizzeria so for the past three days I’ve had local attempts at pizza. The crust was pretty good, but the toppings were a bit strange. Mostly, I had trouble with the hot dogs cut up on the pizza. They weren’t quite like pepperoni. After three days of it I’m ready not to see anymore “pizza” for a while.
Close to our hotel we found a great Japanese restaurant. They went all out with the décor. The restaurant had traditional Japanese seating and the owners had imported all the dishes from Japan. The food was fantastic, especially after a three days of bland Russian style cafeteria food at the resort in Issik Kul. Of course my favorite part was the pickled ginger that accompanied the sushimi. It should tie me over for my next few months in Tajikistan.