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Anyone been to Bishkek?
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Lancer



Joined: 01 Dec 2005
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with Jonniboy. Bishkek is much smaller than Almaty and has far fewer entertainment options. Definately very Soviet-like still (which really just means too poor to change right now). At least they got the fountains downtown working. For about a decade they were broken and the entire atmosphere was depressing. But the plus side to being smaller is that the expat community is pretty intimate (you meet the same folks everywhere you go... could be good, could be bad). Also, you can get around everywhere pretty quickly and get to know the city well. Bishkek always had a reputation of being one of the more dangerous cities in the ex-USSR. My Kazakh friends wouldn't even cross the border from Almaty to come visit me there because they were afraid. But I never had anything bad happen to me because I used the same caution I would use if I was walking around New York or London at night. But some other teachers I knew did get assaulted or mugged or their pockets picked. It happens. Alcohol is usually a main factor with either the victim or the perps being drunk... or both. Alcoholism is a really big problem there... as in all of Central Asia. Just use caution and always call for a taxi when leaving a club or bar and don't go use the gypsy cabs that are always outside the places where foreigners congregate.

Also, Bishkek is a much, much cheaper city to live in compared to Almaty or Astana. Sure there are better shopping malls and clubs in Kazakhstan, but I couldn't afford anything in them. In the end, Almaty and Bishkek are close enough you can live in one and visit the other if you are curious how the other half lives. I lived in Karaganda, KZ back in 1998 when the capital moved to Astana and the country was still poor. Earned $140 a month (plus free flat) back then and did ok. Had a great experience and really loved it there despite the poverty. Went back there two years ago and was shocked at how developed the place was. Foreigners no longer stand out and it looks more modern now. Also, my formerly poor ex-students are all now rich and love to tell you how much their clothes, watches and cars cost. Very different, new-rich atmosphere from before. But I can't really recommend one country over another,... I mean they both have really genuine, nice people and are good places to learn Russian. In Kyrgyzstan folks invite to their apartment for a home-cooked meal, in Kazakhstan you are treated to expensive an meal at a restaurant. Both are genuine gestures of hospitality that cost your hosts a lot of money.

The biggest advantage to Bishkek is cost of living. But pay is also lower. You just got to work out what you want to do and know why your are there.

As for other places to visit in Kyrgyzstan, the hotspot there is Issyk-kyl lake. You will be asked by every Krygyz you meet if you have been there yet. It's a beautiful alpine lake with lots of cabins and resorts along its beaches. Fun place to go in the summer. The water is still freezing cold, but lots of partying going on along the beaches. Good food and fun. Nice mountains to hike in as well. If you are planning a visit to Krygyzstan, pretty much all the expats agree the best travel/tourism company to use is KyrgyzConcept. They can find you temp apartments or hotels to live in and arrange tours around Issyk-kyl by hiking or horseback. Not expensive either. You can even arrange to stay in a yurt in the mountains. If you look at the Kyrgyz Concept website you will see some of the other places you can visit in Krygzstan.
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koko987



Joined: 02 Feb 2014
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thought I'd bump this same thread on Kyrgyzstan and ask you guys your thoughts on this position:

http://www.tefl.com/jobs/job.html?jo_id=61030

It's outside of Bishkek, I know, but considering the previous posts about the low cost of living and low salaries in Kyrgyzstan it almost looks too good to be true... doesn't it?

Only 4 - 8 weeks anyway so I'm considering giving it a go
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Lancer



Joined: 01 Dec 2005
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, that summer camp job at Lake Issyk-kul looks interesting. Good pay for short term work in Kyrgyzstan. Would be fun to be there anyway. Hopefully they give you enough time off from teaching to go out and have fun while you are there. The Karven hotel website looks like a great place to stay. I wonder if you get a room there or if that is just where you teach.
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