(41) Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan: Where I healed

I wish I could tell you about all the wonderful things I did over the week I spent in Bishkek. It’s not that I can’t tell you, it’s that I didn’t do many wonderful things.

Bishkek is where I recuperated. I was consistently sick from the middle of my stay in Uzbekistan, and almost all through Tajikistan. I possibly lost 10 pounds. Tajikistan, especially, physically and mentally exhausted me. While the scenery was absolutely lovely and I without a doubt plan to come here again, Tajikistan almost broke me. I lost my spirit. I met others like me. Ready to go home. Yearning for home.

I’ve never been homesick before. Usually I can go with the flow wherever I am, no culture shock, just travel around with my eyes wide open. I rarely get sick when I travel, and often joke about my poor food hygiene in Canada helping me strengthen my stomach for travelling. But as I went through Tajikistan, I found that almost every meal resulted in a dash to the toilet, which meant I started associating basically every local dish with getting sick. I lost my will to eat.

So in Bishkek, I stayed at a lovely guesthouse. It was cheap, clean, comfortable, and it had wifi. And Bishkek, thank God, has food that didn’t resemble the food that made me so ill in Tajikistan. I generally ate out once a day, either Chinese food or Western food, and the rest of my caloric intake was a mixture of bananas, fruity yogurt, bread, cheese, Coca Cola, and chocolate bars. I was able to convince myself that the peanuts in Snickers and the coconut in Bounty actually made them energy bars. I ate about one each a day.

Now, the problem with being comfortable is the issue of getting too comfortable. I stayed in Bishkek a week, which is probably twice the amount of time I needed to feel better.

In that time, other than eating and sitting at my laptop, the only other things I did were:

  • visit the community-based tourism office to get their book of services and locations around the country
  • attempt to visit 3 craft/art spaces, but only actually find one
  • visit a travel agent to book a flight home (only to end up booking it online)
  • buy a cell phone
  • meet with a rep from the Mountain Societies Development Services Program, a program of the Aga Khan Development Network, to discuss the possibility of me volunteering to write part of a grant proposal

Two other things that I started working on while in Bishkek are related to my upcoming 30th birthday. As a gift to myself (or perhaps assisted by others, depending on what the cost turns out to be) I am attempting to book a few days at a mountaineering basecamp on a glacier, accessed by a scenic helicopter ride. I also have a possible connection to get a discount at the Hyatt in Bishkek, which is where I hope to spend my actual 30th birthday. The last night of my trip. I fly back to Canada the next day.

And that’s it. I put off leaving Bishkek more than once. Somehow the country that was the inspiration for this trip was no longer inspiring me to explore. I didn’t even really make any attempt to meet the other travellers at the guesthouse.

But eventually, I got my ass in gear, and made rough plans to leave. And I did. And I’m glad.

I got my mojo back.