Accels Kyrgyzstan (1999)
Freedom Support Act Secondary School Program Recruiter
I traveled extensively throughout Kyrgyzstan during my four months with the American Councils for International Education (ACCELS/ACTR) from August, 1999, to December, 1999). My job was to administer exams and interview prospective foreign exchange students. I spent most of my time at our office in Bishkek. My first road trip was to Talas, one of the poorest cities in Kyrgyzstan. My next road trip took me to Naryn and the Issyk Kul Oblast. After returning to Bishkek, I then headed to Osh, Jalal Abad, and Tash Kumyr, cities located in southern Kyrgyzstan. Finally we made our way back to Bishkek and administered testing in the Chui Oblast. We then repeated the trips again for interviews. During this time, we made an extra visit to At Bashy located in the Naryn Oblast. At Bashy has some of the best mountain views in the world. Here are some of my favorite pictures from Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyz Honor Guard
I took these shots at the Lenin Square in downtown Bishkek.
Manas International Airport
Manas International Airport was a lot quieter when I worked in Kyrgyzstan back in 1999. The US military now has an air base at this airport. I actually flew into Bishkek on a Tupolev Tu-134 on Eastline Airlines from Moscow, Russia. I made several trips from Bishkek to Osh on the Yakolev Yak-40 on Kyrgyzstan Airlines. I was a bit scared flying on these planes but I was able to cheat death 5 times.
I also got some pictures of the airport in Osh:
If you are scared of flying, make sure you make a pilgrimage to the Suleyman Tobe in Osh:
My Uzbek driver, Ruslan, introduced me to the Osh Cafe. I ate here everyday for lunch, and sometimes dinner. For roughly 35 cents, I was able to get beefsteaks and a pot of green tea. It may not be healthy but it was good. Make sure you visit the Osh Cafe before catching your flight back to Bishkek. It could be your last meal.
Another one of my favorite spots in Kyrgyzstan. The Kirov Dam is located on the Talas River just on the hr of Kazakhstan. The closet city is Taraz, Kazakhstan, which was near my Peace Corps site. Talas, Kyrgyzstan, is the nearest Kyrgyz city. Historically the Talas River is famous. It was near this location that the Arabs defeated the Chinese army in the Battle of Talas in 751 AD.
I remember the day these pictures were taken very well. My driver, Volodia, and I had returned from Karatau, Kazakhstan, my Peace Corps site, to Talas. On the Kazakhstan side, it was dry and cold. On the Kyrgyzstan side, we hit a snowstorm. I actually fell and injured my right knee at the Intourist Hotel in Talas. The trip back to Bishkek the next day was long and treacherous.
I made two trips to Karakol located at the eastern end of Lake Issyk Kul. It is worth the trip to visit the Przhevalski Memorial.
Balakchy is located on the western end of Lake Issyk Kul but if you can avoid this city, avoid it. I did meet a really nice Kyrgyz English teacher at one of the schools who treated us really well.
I took these pictures on the highway to Naryn:
Naryn is a very beautiful town located right in the middle of the Naryn Alatoo. Most Kyrgyz tell everyone to visit Lake Issyk Kul. I normally tell people to visit Naryn.
I visited the local mosque and was giving a tour by three Kyrgyz boys.
The head waters of the Syr Darya originate near Naryn. It is known as the Naryn River in Kyrgyzstan but changes into the Syr Darya once it enters Uzbekistan.
Dolan Pass is betten Kochkor and Naryn. It was nice up there and we stopped and met some Kyrgyz on their way back to Naryn.
I saved the best for last. At-Bashy, which means “Horse’s Head” in Kyrgyz, is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world. At-Bashy is located next to the At-Bashy Range which seperates Kyrgyzstan from China. I just remember it being so pretty there and is a must visit for those considering traveling to Kyrgyzstan.