Thursday, July 16, 2009
The single greatest thing about getting into Kyrgyzstan is that the pressure is now off. The pressure of having to make borders before visas ran out is no longer my daily headache. The food is a better, but could it have gotten any worse. The heat is less intense and there is also the option to venture into the cooler mountains. And it is so much easier to manage your finances here. In Uzbekistan, I found only 1 ATM working in the whole country. In Turkmenistan, I found only 1 bank that would give me cash advances on my credit card. And in Iran, visa, mastercard, cirrus and maestro are not accepted throughout the whole country. But here in Osh, there are 3 working ATMs within walking distance of my hotel. And they give out local currency, so there is no need to go looking for the black market money changers. In Uzbekistan, these guys give a 25% better rate than the official bank rate, but you really have to have your wits about you, or you'll get a pocket full of change for your 100 dollar bill.Osh is Kyrgyzstan's second largest city after the capital Bishkek. I've found a few other tourists in town and from emails I received there are a few friends on the way. Its kind of a cross roads on the silk road route. Some are heading north to Lake Issyk-Kul and the Tien Shan mountains, others are going east into China, while others plan to go south on the Karakoram highway to Pakistan. I'm presently happy enough going down to the park, or having a stroll through the markets or wandering down to see the massive statue of Lenin. I'll get itchy feet to start moving again soon. But for the first time in a long time, I'm happy just chilling about.