You are on page 1of 32

THE Spektator №11 July 2010

Your monthly guide to what’s happening in and around Bishkek

Spirit
of
Kashgar
Plus:
Tsarist Central Asia
In Colour
Remembering
World War Two
Karakol’s
Dungan Mosque

. .
Tourist Map What’s On Restaurant Guide
0312 66 40 79
Boulevard Erkindik 27
Focus

ContentsThe Spektator Magazine
Special: History in Colour
One hundred years ago, photographer
Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky embarked on
an extraordinary mission to capture
the essence of Tsar Nicolas II’s Empire in
15

colour. Tom Wellings looks at some of
his remarkable work in Central Asia.
Editor-in-Chief: Tom Wellings

Managing Editor: Chris Rickleton
Spirit of Kashgar
Evan Harris explores the ancient city of
20
(editor@thespektator.co.uk) Kashgar, and finds a lively indigenous
Uighur population struggling to resist
Staff writers: Alex Ward (alexward@ the advance of China and globalization.
thespektator.co.uk), Robert Marks
(robertmarks@thespektator.co.uk),
Natalya Wells, Evan Harris,
Patrick Barrow, Pavel Kropotkin This Month
Anthony Butts (anthonybutts@
thespektator.co.uk) News and Views
Following a horrific period of violence in 4
Guest Contributor: Sergey Vysotsky the South, Kyrgyzstan must pick itself up
and ensure stability for its citizens.
Design: Alena Krivyh
Talkin’ ‘bout a Referendum 8
We visited Kochkor to observe proceedings
during the Kyrgyz Republic’s constitutional
Advertising Manager: Irina Kasymova
referendum held on June 27th.
(email: advertise@thespektator.co.uk)

Out & About
The House Chou-Hsi Built
Sergei Vysotsky reports on a hundred years
10
of Karakol’s Dungan mosque, tracing its
talented architect to his gory end.

The Cost of Victory
12
We go in search of the Soviet experience
and recollection of the Great Patriotic War.

The Guide
Restaurants, Bars, Clubs
All the best bars and clubs in town.
22
Weekend
Things to do over a coffee. 25
www.thespektator.co.uk
Want to contribute as a freelance
City Map
Don’t get lost.
29
writer? Please contact:
editor@thespektator.co.uk What’s On
The pick of the entertainment listings.
30
ON THE COVER: Schoolchildren riding by in Kashgar’s
Old City (Evan Harris)
The Spektator Magazine is available at locations throughout Bishkek, including: (Travel Agencies) Adventure Seller, Ak-Sai Travel, Carlson Wagonlit, Celestial Mountains, Ecotour, Glavtour,Kyrgyz Concept,
Kyrgyz Travel, Muza, NoviNomad (Bars & Restaurants) Cowboy, Hollywood, Metro, New York Pizza, No1, 2x2, Boulevard, Coffeehouse, Doka, Fatboy’s, Four Seasons, Live Bar, Lounge Bar,
Meri, Navigator, Stary Edgar’s Veranda, Adriatico, Cyclone, Dolce Vita, Santa Maria, Golden Bull (Casinos) Europa, Golden Dragon, XO (Hotels) Dostuk, Hyatt, Golden Dragon, Holiday,

Spektator
Alpinist (Embassies and Organisations) The UN building, The American base, The German Embassy, The Dutch Consulate, CAMP Ala-too, NCCR, The Bishkek Opera & Ballet Society.
THE

.co.uk
The Spektator is now online at www.thespektator.co.uk
4 This Month
After cheating death in Osh, Bishkek offers precious little solace
TOM WELLINGS
BISHKEK July 7 (Spektator) - Timur’s back was bro-
ken when he was thrown from a fourth floor win-
dow during the June riots in Kyrgyzstan’s southern
city of Osh. His diminutive frame is now laid out on
a small iron bed in the corner of a two berth room
in a hospital in Bishkek. He is paralysed from the
waist down. Doctors have still not told the 25-year-
old, who got married only two months ago, that he
will never walk again.
Timur’s wife, Shakhra, 22, occupies the other
bed. Although thin and frail she has recovered
from her injuries, and is there only to care for her
husband as best she can. The official nurses, it
seems, are often so busy with other matters that
they are prone to neglecting the young couple
whose small room lies at the end of a gloomy cor-
Above Estimates of the death toll in southern Kyrgyzstan range from 300 to over 3000.
ridor.
Although Shakhra is physically healthy, it is and amongst family portraits on the wall are hung charities in order to appeal for specialist help. She
hard to say what psychological torment she is suf- several pictures of Akramov together with ex- is determined to challenge the local attitude that a
fering. She had been married for barely a month President Bakiev – the very figure who many hold patient’s life is effectively over if they become con-
when masked men broke into her apartment, responsible for provoking Osh to self-destruct. fined to a wheelchair, but it seems she has a long
raped her, and threw her husband out of a win- Akramov had been a member of Bakiev’s Ak-Zhol battle ahead of her.
dow. Tests show that she is pregnant, but she has Party before the Revolution of April 7. A junior surgeon who passes us outside in the
kept this from Timur. She will have to wait several Akramov agrees to allow his young patients an courtyard tries to take a more optimistic view. “Yes,”
more weeks before she can find out for sure if the extension of their stay without charge but he is pes- he agrees when prompted by Tamara, “I suppose
child is her husband’s. In any case, she will struggle simistic about their future. there is always hope.”
to continue her role as Timur’s full time carer as the “They are poor people, they have no jobs, no Tamara, assisted by CAMP Alatoo Public Foun-
pregnancy progresses. prospects. What sort of a life is it for a young man dation (www.camp.kg), is attempting to raise funds
Alone in a city far from home without any to be confined to a wheelchair? In Europe it may in order to pay for Timur’s treatment at a rehabilita-
means of supporting themselves, Timur and Sha- be different, but here, In Kyrgyzstan! In Osh!” He tion centre. Such treatment could make a significant
khra have only one person to give them hope. Sev- need say no more. difference to his future quality of life. She would
eral days after being evacuated from Osh to Bishkek Tamara is defiant and rankles at any negativ- be delighted to accept donations which can be
by the Ministry of Emergencies, Tamara, an NGO ity. She continues to make plans to have Timur sent through CAMP Alatoo. Contact Alma at Mob.
worker from Bishkek, chanced upon them whilst sent to a local rehabilitation centre when he is fit 0551 115560, Tel. 0312 540573 or email editor@
visiting a relative. Since then she has taken it upon enough, and is already writing letters to foreign spektator.co.uk for more information.`
herself to act as their guardian and is doing all she
can to provide assistance. It was on Tamara’s request
that Timur and Shakra were moved from a general
Kyrgyzstan in brief
ward into their current, more private surroundings.
Her reassuring presence and constant encourage-
ment has also done much to allay their fear of being
KG backs new constitution UZ and KG officials at the WC
BISHKEK, Jun 28 (AFP) - Voters in Kyrgyzstan BISHKEK, July 6 (Spektator) - Uzbek referee,
in the capital.
overwhelmingly backed a new constitution in a Ravshan Irmatov, along with linesmen Rafael
Today, Tamara arrives at the hospital laden with
controversial referendum slammed by Russia as Ilyasovto, also of Uzbekistan, and Bahadir Ko-
fruit juice, biscuits and fresh fruit. Business-like and
risking a resurgence of unrest. chkarov of Kyrgyzstan have enjoyed an excellent
mothering at the same time, she briefs Timur on
More than 90 percent of voters in Sunday’s Foootball World Cup to date. Highlights of their
her plans to have him transferred to a sanatorium
referendum backed the new charter that would tournament include solid displays in the open-
outside the city and questions him on the opera-
set up ex-Soviet Central Asia’s first parliamentary ing match between South Africa and Mexico,
tion he underwent the previous day. Checking his
democracy. and the semi-final clash between Uruguay and
temperature which is running at nearly 40’C, she
But opposition leaders said the figures were the Netherlands. Irmatov, 32, is considered by
advises Shakhra on what she should and shouldn’t
impossibly high given the fallout from this FIFA as one of the top referees in Asia.
be feeding her husband.
month’s ethnic violence that left hundreds of
Timur’s mother, an unemployed and illiterate
widow with three other younger children, remains
people dead.
Just 8.0 percent voted against, on the back of
Roza Otunbaeva becomes KG’s
in Osh. She can not afford to make the eleven hour
journey across three mountain ranges to visit her
a mass turnout of 69.5 percent, according to the first female president
results. BISHKEK, July 4 (AP) - Kyrgyzstan’s provisional
eldest son. She too is unaware of the full extent of
leader Roza Otunbayeva was sworn in as presi-
his injuries, still unable to grasp that his legs do not
work, not because they are broken, but because Second request sent to Bela- dent on Saturday, ushering in what the turbulent
he has suffered damage to his spine. Tamara frets
about what affect the shock of more bad news will
rus for Bakiev’s extradition Central Asian nation’s government hopes will be
a new era of stability and democratic freedoms.
have on the family. BISHKEK, July 7 (UPI) - The Kyrgyz government Speaking after her inauguration, Otunbayeva,
Downstairs, we meet the head of the hospital, is calling again on Belarus to extradite former 59, hailed what she described as a momentous
renowned surgeon and former Member of Parlia- President Kurmanbek Bakiev, leaders in Bishkek new era for Kyrgyzstan, which has endured
ment Ernst Akramov. A Soviet Master of Sport in said on Wednesday. months of political and ethnic violence.
his youth, Akramov sits in his office amongst sym- The interim government led by Roza Otun- Otunbaeva said: “In Kyrgyzstan, democracy
bols of learning and success. Black and white pho- bayeva called for his arrest, charging him with is a system that has deep roots in the souls of the
tographs of his sporting career decorate his desk, murder and abuse of power. people.”

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
This Month 5
In Osh, easier to dig up corpses than truth International investigation
DAVID TRILLING
planned into Kyrgyz violence
OSH, July 6 (Eurasianet.org) - Police sealed off a ern journalists] to report both sides of the story. OSH, July 7 (HRW) - A planned independent in-
gravel road in Osh’s central Cheremushki district Here is an opportunity. Please let us past.” Each ternational commission of inquiry into the recent
on Friday. Word spread quickly through the Uzbek recklessly gripped his Kalashnikov – “please stop violence in southern Kyrgyzstan should investi-
neighborhood. Since ethnic Kyrgyz make up most pointing that at my belly” – and dithered, scared of gate all aspects of the violence, including the role
of the security forces, the residents’ first response his seniors, uncertain of his own place in the hazy of government forces, Human Rights Watch said
was fear: “We will be attacked.” chain of command. today.
The details of how the recent violence in south- Eventually, we flagged down a senior officer. The Kyrgyz interim government set the estab-
ern Kyrgyzstan started – leaving perhaps thousands He explained that Kyrgyz police had died in the lishment of the commission in motion on July 6,
dead – may never be clear. Yet for most Osh resi- conflict, too, and let us through. 2010, with a request to an official of the Parliamen-
dents, the culpability is obvious. Uzbeks blame Kyr- The bodies were buried five feet below the tary Assembly of the Organization for Security and
gyz and Kyrgyz blame Uzbeks. The two groups each foundation of a construction site, surrounded by Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to “coordinate the
nurse their own irreconcilable versions of how the the charred skeletons of houses and the remains preparation process” for an independent interna-
region became deformed with fear and resentment. of the stones and tree trunks the frightened resi- tional commission of inquiry into the violence.
They generally go something like this: dents had used to keep out Kyrgyz gangs three “The government’s request for an independ-
Among many Uzbeks: “It was the Osh mayor. He weeks before. ent international commission is an important
wanted to clear out the Uzbek neighborhoods and I photographed the bloated body of one of the step,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher
build apartment blocks for Kyrgyz. Snipers attacked missing officers, identifiable only by his blue po- at Human Rights Watch. “Now everyone involved
our neighborhoods. He wanted to move the bazaar lice pants. Half a dozen officials in surgical masks, with the process needs to make sure the commis-
out of the city, onto his own land. He had outside snapping photos on their cell phones, pointed to sion has the expertise, mandate, and authority it
help from a third force, perhaps Russia, which may the pants repeatedly: “See, it’s our colleague.” They needs to make its work meaningful.”
explain why Moscow didn’t send peacekeepers.” packed him in a salad of mint and mustard greens, The independent inquiry by the commission
Among many Kyrgyz: “The Uzbeks started a trying to hide the smell. should include an examination of any liability by
fight for autonomy by raping our women. Their A police spokesman videotaping the exhuma- government forces for crimes and abuses com-
leader Kadyrjan Batyrov in Jalal-Abad was using tion said “six Uzbek suspects” had been arrested mitted, and it should make recommendations to
the weakness of the interim government to call for nearby. “One of them is a hajji,” said a young officer, ensure that all parties responsible for abuses are
political representation. They don’t know how good alluding to the weak government argument that held accountable, Human Rights Watch said.
they had it. They were arming themselves and we radical Islamists sparked the violence. Observant The Commission’s mandate should also ex-
had to defend Kyrgyzstan.” “Muslim” is blurred with “extremist.” Another said the tend to the aftermath of the June 10 to 14 vio-
Of course Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh still talk bodies had been mutilated, though what I saw sug- lence, including security operations by Kyrgyz law
to one another. Many have been neighbors for gests this is yet another unfounded rumor waiting enforcement agencies in southern Kyrgyzstan in
generations. But blame has settled into a set of iso- to be unleashed on the terrified city. recent weeks.
lated, stagnant mythologies; the narratives divide “It’s hard for us. We knew and worked with Human Rights Watch’s research in southern
neighborhoods and offer little room for political these guys,” one officer said softly. Kyrgyzstan indicates that the authorities largely
reconciliation. Inside the brick foundation, a sweaty group failed to prevent the massive violence and to pro-
State-sanctioned spin bolsters the Kyrgyz nar- of shirtless policemen was exhuming the second tect the population. It also found that some indi-
rative. Kyrgyz officials complain repeatedly about body and passed me a handful of salad to cover vidual members of government forces may have
the lack of “balanced coverage” of the recent car- my nose. been involved in violent attacks. Human Rights
nage. The Western media is unfairly showing dead “People don’t kill police even during wars,” said Watch has repeatedly called on the Kyrgyz gov-
Uzbeks without covering Kyrgyz deaths as well, we one who called himself Chingiz. “What kind of ani- ernment to request an international investigation
foreign correspondents hear – from officials, at the mals are they? We should destroy Uzbeks.” into the June violence to supplement the national
front desk in the hotel, from curious people looking I called a friend, a local Uzbek journalist, to tell investigation.
at my camera on the street. Uzbeks say the same, him about the bodies. Credible information obtained by Human
worried the world has not heard of their suffering. “The police will take revenge – 120 percent,” he Rights Watch indicates that the Commission
But the Uzbeks control fewer levers of power and forecasted. will be chaired by the Parliamentary Assembly’s
can’t back their request with implicit threats, with There is a precedent. In the village of Nariman, special representative for Central Asia, Kimmo
checkpoints, mopping-up operations, and the rule two ethnic Uzbeks died and 20-some were injured Kiljunen, and is intended to include internation-
of the gun. in a sweep on June 21. Apparently, police told resi- ally recognized experts from intergovernmental
The threat of revenge has become almost as dents the attack was in retaliation for the murder and regional organizations. Human Rights Watch
powerful as the sweeps themselves. Uzbeks say Kyr- of two police officers there in the early days of the supported inclusion of such experts and urged
gyz police and military units are detaining Uzbeks conflict. Authorities detained rights activists inves- the Kyrgyz government to request involvement
for inciting ethnic violence and terrorism, threaten- tigating the clash. by the United Nations in particular. The commis-
ing them with repercussions against their families In Osh, anger has replaced due process, en- sion should include investigators, regional special-
or fabricating evidence as a pretext for arrest. Hu- trenching the blame, ensuring the parallel narra- ists, forensic experts - medical and non-medical,
man rights activists back up their accounts, ampli- tives never cross into a neutral area where they and experts in international human rights law, Hu-
fied and rendered more terrifying by gossip. are open to challenge. The interim government man Rights Watch said.
So it didn’t help when two Kyrgyz police offic- promises a fair investigation, but has little control “The credibility of the commission will de-
ers went missing three weeks ago. in southern Kyrgyzstan. Perhaps afraid of what in- pend in part on its composition and the qualifi-
Armed young men guarded that Cheremushki vestigators might find, Bishkek has ignored calls cations of its members,” Solvang said. “Relevant
street corner, stopping and searching cars. They for the inquiry to be internationally led. In this en- institutions should promptly nominate qualified
were a jumpy mix of military conscripts and po- vironment, violence has become a legitimate tool experts to participate in the commission’s work.”
lice. It was difficult to tell because of their outfits: a for addressing grievances. Healing – and a sustain- Human Rights Watch called on the Kyrgyz
polo shirt, fatigues and Adidas sneakers on one; a able political system based on an established rule government to cooperate fully with the commis-
“US Army”-embossed tunic with a Harley Davidson of law – is on hold, leaving many Uzbek families no sion’s work and to ensure that it has unimpeded
shoulder patch on another; a third wore a blue traf- choice but to emigrate. access to witnesses, hospital and police records,
fic warden’s shirt over black track pants. There’s an old joke being repeated here again: forensic evidence, official communications, and
My colleague and I pleaded with them to give “Optimists learn a foreign language; pessimists all other relevant information.
us access: “Officials [i.e. you] keep telling us [West- learn how to use a Kalashnikov.”

www.thespektator.co.uk July 2010 The Spektator
6 This Month
Popular Uzbek singer shifts Kyrgyz conflict to the airwaves
TASHKENT, July 7 (Eurasianet.org) - A song by an
Uzbek pop diva about recent ethnic violence in
southern Kyrgyzstan has created a fresh furor as
Uzbeks and Kyrgyz continue to trade recrimina-
tions about who was responsible for the blood-
letting that left hundreds if not thousands dead.
Pop star Yulduz Usmanova – whose music is
wildly popular across Central Asia and in Russia
and Turkey – has released a song in Uzbek about
the violence in Osh, in which both ethnic Uzbek
and ethnic Kyrgyz died but the Uzbek community
appears to have suffered the most.
In her song “To the Kyrgyz,” Usmanova asks
emotionally: “What was this bloodshed for? Don’t
you have a conscience? Ah, my Kyrgyz, how
cheaply you’ve sold yourselves and destroyed
your wellbeing.”
She also hinted at reports that the violence
was instigated by provocateurs who paid locals Above Yulduz Usmanova, who probably won’t be selling many records in Kyrgyzstan this year
to take part in attacks on Uzbek neighborhoods:
“Don’t trust every hand that gives you bread;
don’t rejoice in victory for nothing. You’ve inflict-
Concern for Uzbek refugees still in Uzbeksistan
ed pain on the souls of my Uzbek people; don’t Jul 9, (NBCentral Asia) - Human rights defender interrogate them when they are in that condition.
regret it tomorrow.” Yelena Urlaeva has gathered worrying evidence They are being treated as culprits rather than as
“If you kill and strangle each ethnic group, that some of the refugees who fled ethnic clashes victims, and it is all taking place under harsh con-
who will stay in the land of the Kyrgyz?” Usmano- in southern Kyrgyzstan were interrogated on ar- ditions. What they need is medical treatment.
va asks in the song, to accompanying images of rival in Uzbekistan, and that a number were taken The injured people told me that many of their
people fleeing, people in burnt-out houses, APCs away to unknown locations. neighbours on the ward had disappeared. No one
driving through city streets and houses belong- Urlaeva, who heads the Uzbek Human Rights knows where they were taken to. Where are they?
ing to ethnic Uzbeks painted with SOS signs in a Alliance, gave an interview to NBCentralAsia after There is no way of contacting them. The injured
desperate plea for help. visiting hospitals in the eastern Andijan prov- people suspect that the Uzbek authorities arrest-
Unsurprisingly, the song has drawn criticism ince, where ethnic Uzbeks injured in the violence ed some of the refugees. Some of refugees said
from cultural figures in Kyrgyzstan, who accuse were taken. Some 80,000 people crossed into Uz- they did not want to return to Kyrgyzstan, as they
Usmanova of stoking tension. Kyrgyz composer bekistan, though most have since returned. The remain very fearful after the bloody conflict there.
Gulshair Sadybakasova said singers had a respon- Kyrgyz authorities say people who were given They asked for assistance in going to third
sibility “to promote peace and accord in society.” medical treatment in Uzbekistan have now been countries – to Kazakstan or Russia, at least. But it’s
“Instead, she [Usmanova] openly urges eth- transferred to hospitals in Osh and Jalalabad. unclear how they could get to [the Uzbekistan of-
nic Uzbeks to be hostile to ethnic Kyrgyz, while However, some refugees, including a number fice of] the United Nations High Commissioner for
insulting the dignity of the Kyrgyz people,” Sady- with injuries, are still in Andijan as they are afraid Refugees, as they are hardly going to be allowed
bakasova said in remarks quoted by the AKIpress to go back. to move around. International humanitarian or-
news agency. NBCentralAsia: How did you manage to visit hos- ganisations have so far been unable to help them,
A number of cultural figures have urged the pitals when they were being guarded by Uzbek as they have no mandate to do so.
Kyrgyz authorities to take action over Usmanova’s police? My brief interviews with these people and the
song. Sadybakasova and television host Shay- Urlaeva: I had to put on national dress, take a large oppressive atmosphere of secrecy that reigns in
irbek Arapov have penned poems in response. bag of bread and wait near the wards for several Andijan itself and at the closely guarded hospitals
“Better a slave who has a motherland than a sing- hours until the guards went away, and then ran where the refugees are being held all gave me the
er who has no motherland,” Sadybakasova wrote. in to see the injured people. All the wards with impression that the authorities are trying to hide
Kyrgyz state television even aired a report on wounded refugees were guarded by officers from something. When I was on my way to Andijan,
July 5 via BBC Monitoring. the Uzbek prosecutor’s office. They [prosecution some unidentified people called me on the phone
The song itself is very popular among ethnic officials] say that the location of refugees is con- and issued threats. That means there are people
Uzbeks living in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbek citizens. fidential…. Virtually no one has been allowed in who don’t want journalists and human rights ac-
Playing on people’s ethnic feelings and causing to see these patients, and on my last visit I wasn’t tivists to discover the truth.
provocation is equal to murder, sacred Islamic allowed to give them humanitarian aid. NBCentralAsia: Why do you think the authorities
NBCentralAsia: Did you speak to the injured peo- don’t want this? Surely everyone is interested in a
writings say.
ple? What did they say? fair investigation of these events.
In Uzbekistan, where freedom of expres-
Urlaeva: All of them were in serious condition Urlaeva: I think the authorities are afraid that the
sion is tightly restricted, singers often use the
with deep gunshot wounds. They couldn’t move truth might be quite unexpected, as was the case
arts to address political themes. Usmanova is no
and could barely talk. I conducted short inter- with our own Andijan events [the violent suppres-
exception. She wrote the song “I Won’t Give You
views, gathered eyewitness testimony and re- sion of protests in 2005].
to Anyone, Uzbekistan” after a series of terrorist
corded everything. We human rights activists are NBCentralAsia: Does your information indicated
bombings in Tashkent in February 1999. The sing-
concerned about two issues – the interrogation there other refugees still in Andijan province
er previously had strained relations with Uzbek
of injured refugees, and disappearances from Uz- apart from those with injuries?
authorities because of her political views, and
bek hospitals. They aren’t being allowed to speak, Urlaeva: Yes, there are still about 1,000 people
this song was believed to have gone some way
and they’re afraid of doing so. But they still told hiding with relatives. They are afraid to go out as
towards mending them.
me that local investigators from the prosecutor’s they’ll be either forced to return to Kyrgyzstan,
Yet Usmanova is currently living in Turkey,
office conducted lengthy interrogations asking where there are still a lot of armed individuals,
where she says she moved in protest against the
them how they got their wounds. or else they will be arrested. They are in hopeless
government’s efforts to exert control over artists’
That’s outrageous. These people are victims, position, completely defenceless. It’s a tragedy
creative independence.
they were seriously injured, and it is inhumane to for them.

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
Visa Services Weekend Excursions Hospitality
Maps and Postcards Accommodation Transport
Nomadic Life Tours Torugart Pass Crossing

28 T. Moldo St, Bishkek
Phone: +996 312 622381
novinomad@elcat.kg
www.novinomad.com
8 This Month

Talkin’‘bout a Referendum
Refe n’

t
ki

u
r end l

o

Referendum
a

‘b
um T
Talkin’

‘bout a
Talkin’
‘bout a
Referendum
A
WINSTON OLSEN
” ND IT SOUNDS… like a whisper.” Yes, even attempting to extend voting to refugee camps thumbs hadn’t been pre-inked and that the neces-
it is certain, Tracy Chapman has never on Uzbek territory, a request Tashkent evenly refused. sary documentation had been brought. Akim was
been to Kochkor, and this dusty, one But onto Kochkor, a sleepy town whose sur- a Dungan man who claimed he was a peoples’ art-
street town in Naryn oblast has not rounding peaks endow it with a splendour it seems ist of the Soviet Union (a flagrant lie) and that he
been mentioned as a potential date on not to deserve, the single artery of note flanked by spoke nine languages (he spoke two).
her upcoming world tour. Yet its residents, possi- ladas aspiring to be taxis and groups of women Nowhere is better to witness democracy in ac-
bly ambivalent towards the snub, had long been separating curd from fermented mare’s milk (ky- tion than the middle of nowhere. Trundling behind
bracing themselves for a different date: June 27th, myz). Nevertheless, its shabby front street and the the skeleton of a tractor, a thirty minute drive with
the day of the provisional government’s much neighbourhoods that sprawl behind it run thick a punctured tyre took us to Kara-Suu village hall, a
vaunted national referendum. ‘Kochkor is an eth- with a hospitality that charms and overwhelms place which smelled soundly of dung and heaved
nically mixed town and a hub of organized crime, much like the deep-fissured scenery. Surely, the with agricultural types. I watched them in awe. Some
associated with coal baron Nurlan Motuev, and as people of Naryn oblast are a special breed. That wearing narodni druzhini (peoples’ volunteers) in-
such constitutes a site of possible unrest,’ I noted was soon emphasized in the hurry of handshakes signia, they arrived in herds, chewing sheathes of
reluctantly at a meeting of observers, convened that greeted our entrance at the first polling station corn and glad-handing one another as they went to
shortly before my departure there. Only Balykchi, we visited. “Salam Aleykum! Welcome to Kochkor, vote. I recognized them as the fat-armed, flat cap-
where support for provisional government oppo- residents of Bishkek!” The Mercedes we had arrived wearing farmers of my home country and county,
nent Batyk Baryktabasov was still strong, seemed in was a gleaming giveaway. indistinguishable from their Yorkshire counterparts
as short a straw to draw, the South still firmly in all manner bar their slightly-more-rugged Sun-
off limits for internationals following a period of “An old woman - perhaps the day best and grins of gold teeth. The man at the
inter-ethnic violence which by conservative es- door was a giant, born to fight on some forgotten
timates has left two thousand people dead and
oldest in Kochkor, shuffled to the front, who struggled manfully to check everybody’s
fifty thousand more marooned over the border in booth and then the ballot box to fingers on the way in. A member of the commission
Uzbekistan. cast her vote. She had been edged had sojourned for a session on the jailoo and came
Much work went into promoting the referen- back half an hour before the count, eyes dopey
dum, and much was at stake. On top of providing kindly to the front of the queue ”­ from pollen and kymyz.
the provisional government with a much needed Such places, during the Akaev and Bakiev eras,
mandate to govern the country, a ‘yes’ vote prom- The director of the school where one set of were easy targets for vote rigging. Often eschewed
ised a new constitution, radically different from voting took place opened ceremony, his speech by internationals for larger urban constituencies,
any other in Central Asia. The new document has following on from a rendition of the Kyrgyz nation- they witnessed lock-ins, lock-outs and unusual
provoked mixed reactions amongst lawmakers al anthem. He said that following the latest tragic 100% turnouts. Yet on the day of the referendum,
and local political analysts. Of note is the stipula- events in the South, he hoped everyone could locals were happy to dawdle about unthreatened,
tion that no political party may occupy more than come together to help bring stability to the coun- slowing down the procession to the ballot box with
50% of the seats in the Jogorku Kenesh parlia- try. Immediately afterwards an old woman - per- side dialogues about life and livestock. A regional
ment. Whilst the aim to avoid rubber-stamp au- haps the oldest in Kochkor - shuffled to the booth observer who had witnessed eleven torturous
thority is admirable, the result, in a country where and then the ballot box to cast her vote. She had hours of this, said the vote had been laborious but
factions and sub-factions throw themselves up been edged kindly to the front of the queue. immaculately observed, with counting eventually
like impassable sierras, could be political paralysis. Another polling station brought another revealing a turnout of just over 69%.
Better, some say, to have a free and fair vote and school, this one newer and better furnished than
For more information about travel to and around
let the best party’s share of it be reflected directly the last. Here I was greeted not as an international
the Kochkor area see ‘Spektral Travel’ on page 30.
in the parliament. observer but simply as a foreigner, with the love for
Weighty issues such as this, and a freshly diluted guests associated with this region above all others
role for the country’s president had been put to every in Kyrgyzstan. The polling station also had a local Above Men in Kochkor town, going home hav-
region, city and village, the provisional government comic who kept morale up between checking that ing cast their vote

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
10 Out & About

The
House
Chou-Hsi
Built
T
SERGEY VYSOTSKY

So great is the natural beauty of Issyk-Kul HE ISSYK KUL region of Kyrgyzstan is a of Shaanxi and Gansu to the Seven Rivers region.
and its surrounding environs, that its wealth keeper of many mysteries. At least one In 1666, those Dungans originally of Gansu, led
of these mysteries was revealed to the by their talisman Dasifu, fled across the Bedel and
of history and legend is too often over-
region’s Muslim community prior to the Clover-Suu passes, beginning a crawling westward
looked. This month, Sergey Vysotsky looks recent centenary of Karakol’s Dungan migration that culminated in their ancestors arriv-
back on a hundred years of the regional ar- mosque, while a second remains the subject of ing at Karakol in November 1877. Just beyond the
chitectural treasure that is Karakol’s Dungan linguistic obfuscation. The mosque is one of the town itself they founded the village of Irdyk, where
mosque, finding answers and half-answers province’s outstanding architectural monuments, many of them still live to this day. The residents of
famously constructed without the use of a single this place are known in local parlance as the ‘Dun-
to long-lingering questions.
nail. As the mosque’s aged assistant imam related gamaniye.’
to me: “Many mysteries remain unsolved for visitors The Dungans of Kyrgyzstan have preserved the
and tourists. We have no right to disclose them to cultural traits of their ancestral homeland in their
outsiders’ ears. But the two mysteries revealed to architecture. In Dungan arts and crafts, there is a
believers shortly before the centenary can now be deeply permeating symbolism with recurring im-
made known to the populace at large.” ages providing a sense of continuity across a cen-
This grey-haired servant of Allah, who looked turies-old tradition. Despite the Muslim religion’s
as if he might have been alive when the mosque ban on depicting living forms, Dungan tradition
itself came into being, began his story with a name.
abounds with images of willow trees, lions and a
“They called him Ibrahim-aji,” the old man said. host of other symbols supposed to bestow protec-
Yet the real name of the man he was referring to, tion and prosperity on dwellings. Some of the most
I knew, was Ma Yu-Ton, one of the richest Issyk-Kulpopular zoomorphic images include the tiger and
businessmen at the turn of the century. It was he, the snow leopard, who symbolize power and agil-
the assistant imam disclosed, who had financed ity, and the dragon - the embodiment of wisdom
the construction of the religious centre. - frequently found in the carved wooden gables of
Since its founding in 1910, the mosque has gone a typical Dungan house.
on to become a cultural monument of regional and In 1907, according to sources, the Dungans
national significance, one of relatively few architec-
invited a well-known Peking architect, Chou-Hsi,
tural jewels in the Kyrgyz republic, and a real high-
to commission a work that might serve as a focal
light on a trip around the shores of Lake Issyk Kul.
point for their community. That community was
As confirmed by official accounts found in sev-
not Islamic at the time, instead belonging to the
eral different regional encyclopaedias, the build- ancient Bon religion derived from the Persian cult
ing’s form and foundations are indebted not to the of Mithra (see textbox).
Islamic style, but to that of the Chinese Qing dy- Contrary to the Chinese authorities’ ban on
Above and right Karakol’s Dungan Mosque of- nasty (1644-1911 AD). Indeed, Buddhist pagodas building such facilities outside of China, the archi-
fers a historical and architectural interest for distinctly similar to the mosque still abound on the
tect Chou-Hsi arrived on the shores of Issyk Kul,
those travelling through the Issyk Kul region other side of the Tian Shan mountain range that providing support to the Dungan people during
(all photos Sergey Vysotsky) separates Kyrgyzstan from modern-day China. a tender moment in the establishment of their
young expatriate community. He brought with
Far right The panels inside the Dungan mosque Kyrgyzstan’s Dungan Diaspora him twenty Chinese carvers, who etched and
have yet to reveal their one hundred year se- After the defeat of the national liberation move- smoothed the wooden components of a future
cret in full. Entry into the mosque is not always ments of the peoples of Eastern Turkestan, Dun- mosque over the course of three years. Local crafts-
permitted by its attendants. gan rebels were forced to flee from the provinces men were involved in laying the foundations of the

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
Out & About 11

The Bon Faith
building, whilst the wood Chou-Hsi and his carvers the Soviet Union, and buildings belonging to any
worked with was sourced regionally, from carefully denomination were demolished ruthlessly. Chou
selected and treated spruces, trees which cover Hsi’s work had been left in tact because it was reg-
the depth and breadth of Barskoon Valley further istered as a historical relic, and as such protected by
south. law. Additionally, authorities may not have regard- The Bon religion, whose practices the Dun-
By May 10, 1910, construction was completed. ed it as such a threat, since in the nineteen years gan mosque may have hosted originally,
leading up to the purge, it appears it was never is known to have followed in the traces of
Chou-Hsi Chokes it used as a mosque at all. the cult of the Persian god Mithras. Mithras,
The Dungan mosque is a rectangular building built in the Zoroastrian tradition, is the god of
from East to West measuring 15.5 x 25 m. A clever The Silence of the Panels light, truth and goodness. In friezes dated
system of shorn studs allowed for construction Official records show a list of eleven chief imams before 1000 B.C, he is typically shown with
without screws and metal fastenings. The overlap- working in the mosque since Soviet laws on reli- a bull, which he is said to have slain before
ping shingles of the multi-tiered wooden cornice gion were relaxed in 1947. It is known that in the fertilizing the world with its blood.
are decorated with images of plants (grapes, pome- intervening eighteen-year period, the building was Ancient Tibetan sources from Shaanxi
granates, pears, peaches) and animals (dragons, used as a warehouse. Yet no official record of its and other provinces paint a mixed picture
phoenixes), personifying notions of peace, wisdom use by an organized religion exists prior to 1929. of the nature of the Bon religion’s main
and abundance. Instead, elders in the Dungan community - much protagonist, Shenrab. Sometimes this enig-
The building’s colours - red, green and yellow - of which is now at least nominally Muslim - insist
matic figure is related as Shenrab Shen, a
man who wandered the earth to help peo-
underscore its undisputable Chinese heritage, con- that their fathers and grandfathers used the build-
ple find truth. At other times his character
trasting vividly with the painted blue design of the ing for private prayer, meditation and community is similar to Sakyamuni, the central ideal of
roof and the plastered brick ‘core’ of the mosque. gatherings. the proximate Buddhist religion. Most com-
The corrugated silhouette of the building reaffirms The apparent co-option of the structure lends monly, however, he is revealed as the White
the contours of the surrounding mountains, and a a murky tint to the mosque’s century-old history. It Light of God, his Aryan roots and Mithraist
triangular pediment - in no way similar to a minaret also throws into ridicule the assistant imam’s sec- personification acknowledged, while his
- rises up through a roof underpinned by forty-two ond ‘revelation.’ arrival in the Tibet area is explained as part
golden-yellow pillars. Inside the mosque, two distinctive panels with of an eastward apostolic mission.
Slender and regimented, the rows of pillars Chinese characters are attached to the ceiling. On a Founded sometime in the fifth cen-
form a quaint colonnade around the perimeter of plate between them is a traditional Tibetan yantra, tury B.C, Bon’s representative symbol is a
the mosque, and appear to echo the poplars which designed to protect the building and its commu- clockwise-rotating swastika, a geometric
grow all over the Karakol region. The space inside is nity from dark forces. On the right and left of the expression of the four cardinal points on
simple and expressive in composition, consisting of plate, the two panels are inscribed in old-fashioned the path of the sun during the year. At dif-
three large-size rooms through which parishioners Chinese, inaccessible to the general visitor and ferent stages Bon seems to have resisted,
may not pass until they are fully washed and pre- even a modern-day Mandarin speaker. According co-opted and even influenced the older
pared to pray. to the assistant immam, wholly unversed in the practice of Buddhism, borrowing its archi-
tecture as it grew. Whatever its strengths,
Sadly, it would seem that Chou-Hsi was a lit- antiquated language, the inscription contains the
however, it was unable to stand up to the
tle too skilled for his own good. Upon finishing date of the mosque’s construction, as recorded anti-religious purges and a strengthening
construction, the mosque old-timers divulge, the from the birth of Christ and the reign of the Proph- Islamic sub-current prevalent in Soviet-
architect and his apprentices left Kyrgyzstan for Ti- et Mohammed. Chou-Hsi and his entourage would era Issyk Kul. The current Dungan Mosque
bet. Along the way, they were arrested by Chinese surely have begged to differ. stands as a proud contradiction in terms
authorities, accused of divulging state architectural in central Karakol, open to tourists all year
secrets and murdered on the spot. Sergey Vysotsky is a writer and freelance journalist round.
As of 1929, anti-religious purges began across living in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan.

www.thespektator.co.uk July 2010 The Spektator
12 Out & About

Cost ofVictory
The

B
CHRIS RICKLETON

Kyrgyzstan’s holiday season came and went, ISHKEK’S OPERA BALLET THEATRE was State Planning Committee crop quotas is re-
bringing with it the 65th commemoration half-filled to watch renowned ballet placed by the burden of feeding a beleaguered
master Karim Moldobasanov’s adapta- front.
of victory over Nazi fascism. As the genera-
tion of the adored Chingiz Aitmatov Tolgonai’s husband and three sons are
tion who lived it becomes ever fewer, Chris novel Materinskoye Pole. Translated as among those conscripted. Remaining behind
Rickleton goes in search of memories of the ‘Mother Field’, the original text is steeped in to do the work of the men are Tolgonai and her
the Great Patriotic War. the style of the Soviet era, yet beset by pagan daughter-in-law, Aliman. The shift in mood is sig-
undertones. Flicking through it as the orchestra nalled by the melancholy sound of the bassoon,
warmed up, I noticed sentences such as ‘Life put which blows blue notes across scenes of gracious
us all in one dough, tied us together with one toil, the chorus behind the two women slowly
knot’ and ‘the fate of a people is inseparable from depleting as the Kyrgyz jailoos empty out their
the fate of their land.’ But the dialogue on which fighting age males.
the story centres, that between the main charac- Now and then, the father and sons appear
ter Tolgonai and an omniscient ‘Mother Earth’ fig- around Tolgonai like ghosts whose absence
ure, might have appeared a dangerous nod to the haunts the once happy steppe. Then as their
banned supernatural had it not been written by fate becomes known, Tolgonai sinks into intro-
the laureate untouchable himself. spective depression, and converses with Mother
With a tremor of violins, the ballet began, Nature: ‘Mother Nature, why don’t the mountains
bursting to life with a scene on the steppe in the crumble, why don’t the lakes divide when our hus-
Kyrgyz S.S.R. Taking a break from increasing grain bands and sons are killed?’ But it is the earth’s fer-
production, attractive peasants lift each other tility, the constant of those same mountains, that
into the air with joy, spinning with passion for lend her the strength to continue on.
life on the kolkhoz (collective farm). The chorus, As the story reaches its conclusion, Aliman
composed only of men, swayed from side to side dies during childbirth, adding another layer of
as a bubbly score filled the venue and the audi- tragedy to Tolgonai’s existence. The father of her
ence (none of whom appeared to be veterans) baby was not Tolgonai’s eldest son - who long
responded with appreciative gasps. ago perished at the front - but a rogue shepherd
This was better than I had expected. The per- who took advantage of Aliman while she was up
formers’ movements were delicate imitations of in the pastures. Nevertheless, the result of this fit-
rural life; women and men throwing imagined ful union is a grandson (if not by blood, then by
scythes into fields of air between bobs and pirou- right) sent so that Tolgonai will have someone to
ettes, stooping to gather the gifts of an abundant love and cherish as she enters into old age. As the
harvest. Yet this happiness couldn’t last forever. music reaches its crescendo and she thrusts the
Soon news of Nazi Germany’s distant invasion, newborn gratefully skyward, the audience, as if
as if carried in the vessel of a nightmare, reaches cued in, erupts into the sort of standing ovation
the furthest limits of the Union. Husbands depart reminiscent of bygone communist times. Sud-
from wives in sorrow, and the thrill of meeting denly I am thrust into a nostalgia that isn’t my

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
Out & About 13

own. The year is 1945, the war has been won, and the village. Along with hundreds of other villag- Far left War memorial near the Kyrgyz village
Josef Stalin is making a speech thanking the mul- ers, she took refuge in the forest with relatives, of Barskoon (H. Firouzeh)
tinational peoples of the U.S.S.R for their courage but soon she was rounded up and taken to the
and sacrifice. local community hall by Ukrainians dressed in Left Vera Wolf sitting in her Bishkek flat
Nazi uniform. The speed and enthusiasm of their (Sultanat, Babushka Adoption Foundation)
Vera Wolf’s Story defection is still painfully recalled.
Sitting in Vera Wolf’s fourth floor apartment in the “Over half the Ukrainians went over to the Below Cholponbai Tuleberdiev, a name well-
suburbs of Bishkek, I felt suddenly stripped by my side of the Germans!” Vera exclaimed. “There known to most Kyrgyzstani schoolchildren
own poverty of experience. The woman across was always something between them and the (library image)
from me has traversed much of the time and Russians. But we Byelorussians, Russians and
space occupied by the former Soviet Union, suf- Ukrainians used to be one people - one blood! - Next Page Illustrations inspired by the book
fered the horrors of the war to end all wars, and and they were even crueller than the Germans! Materinskoye Pole (N. Zoltarev)
absorbed incalculable loss along the way. But be- They chopped people’s fingers off one by one!”
neath a broad, Slavic forehead, a pair of blue eyes She saw this, she said, and the assassination of
still twinkle with steely resilience, a hardy sense of her grandmother, cousins and the entire village
humour soon surfacing to put me at ease. She is council before her grandfather and some other
of Byelorussian descent, she says, born nearly 80 men escaped out the side of the building, a hand
years ago in eastern Poland. grabbing her hand to flee for the woods once
“See!” she cries after the mandatory pot of tea more.
has been drunk, leaving her chair to show off a “The second time we were there for longer
German sewing machine stored in her cupboard. - two weeks. The frostbites were terrible.” She
“Russian soldiers coming back from Berlin in 1945 makes large egg-shaped gestures to indicate the
gave me this!” She marvels at the looted souvenir blisters which had afflicted her young limbs. The
as if holding it for the first time, her gaze bright partisan soldiers, of whom her eldest uncle was
with renewed astonishment. “They traded it in one, had created a diffusion of camps throughout
for flour! They had even less to eat than we did!” the forest. There the refugees ate tree bark and
The old woman releases a broad, innocent smile. broths conjured from woodland animals. When
Victory had provided an unexpected trophy - a Vera and her grandfather later made a tentative
pittance of compensation for appalling damages. return to their house, they found it had been
Operation Barbarossa had taken the village torched, their underground storeroom partly ran-
of Galinka, where Vera’s grandfather lived, by sacked, then spared.
surprise. Located in the heart of ‘Stalin’s half’ of “We obtained a permit, a pass [from the Na-
Poland, it was overrun by Nazi forces within 48 zis]. My younger uncle had joined the Nazi police,
hours of the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact’s and when we showed them his photo, they al-
annulment. Sixty-nine years on, Vera clasps her lowed us freedom of movement to Derechin [the
hands over her ears, remembering the noise as village where her parents lived] and sometimes
low-flying planes bombed the Jewish quarter of some supplies.”

www.thespektator.co.uk July 2010 The Spektator
14 Out & About

Vera saw nothing treacherous in her own and Russian female co-workers. But beyond gion, about 50km outside the Soviet capital. With
kin’s realignment. Rather the decision was born Yakutia, nowhere would have him. Nowhere, the famous injunctive of political propagandist
out of pragmatism - her uncle was a diabetic and that is, except for the Kyrgyz SSR. Basil Klochkova ringing in their ears (‘Great Russia,
only the invading force had the medication that “We were rejected in Moscow, in Minsk, and and nowhere to retreat behind Moscow!’) twenty-
could treat him. in Kazakhstan. He was a Volga German, a native eight foot soldiers composed mainly of Ukrainian
The news of Soviet victory in the battle of Russian speaker, but that didn’t matter. No-one and Central Asian nationalities achieved the im-
Stalingrad was greeted with a mixture of relief accepted us.” Vera still speaks in warm terms of possible by repelling the attacks of fifty German
and trepidation in German-occupied Galinka. the country they eventually adopted, of her love tanks, destroying several of them before reinforce-
More than three years of Nazi rule had imposed for Ala-Archa and Issyk Kul, of Central Asian hospi- ments arrived and Nazi forces staged a retreat
hardship on Vera’s family, but their diet, now a tality. She and her husband had raised a son here, from the region. Twenty-four of their number were
soup composed of nettle, powdered milk and she said, and I grasped from the way she lowered killed in the assault, with the remaining four seri-
flour, was plentiful in comparison to that further her eyes that both men were now lost to her. “My ously injured. All were decorated as heroes of the
south and east, from where reports of mass-star- son loved Kyrgyzstan as much as anybody could,” Soviet Union.
vation and cannibalism had filtered through. It she volunteered. “He was killed in a car crash ten Another hero, Private Cholponbai Tuleberdiev,
would be soldiers from this devastated region, years ago.” distinguished himself near the front at Voronezh,
pushing north-west, that would later arrive in As our conversation draws to a close and she near what is now the border between Russia and
the village. watches me out of the door, Vera says: “Younger Ukraine. A Talas-born gunner in the 160th Infantry
Overcome with emotion now, Vera leaps people find the war interesting because it was a Division of the 6th Red Army, his unit came under
from her chair and waves forward a procession different time. They never saw it, they never lived machine gun fire from a Nazi bunker while trying
of Red Army armoured vehicles, bound for a fi- it, and God grant that you never will.” to cross the Don river. Braving its fierce current,
nal bloodbath in eastern Germany. But the men Tulerberdiev swam across the river and threw
operating these vehicles, she remembers, were Local Heroes a grenade in the direction of the fire. Unable to
not the square-faced, muscle-bound characters Despite being as geographically remote from neutralize his target, he signalled to his comrades
of Soviet ‘realist’ depiction, but gaunt and pale World War Two’s major fronts as almost any coun- on the opposite bank as he began to crawl, face
waifs, whose famine-racked eyes had seen un- try in the world, Kyrgyzstan is associated with down against the mud, in the direction of the bun-
speakable things. several surnames now enshrined as legend in ker. As they began to descend the bank and cross
After the war’s end, both Derechin and the annals of Soviet military history. One of them, the river, fire intensified. Now unarmed outside
Galinka became part of the Byelorussian SSR, Panfilov, is inextricably linked to the story of the enemy fortification, Tuleberdiev located the
on the fringes of the Soviet Union itself. Their what was initially named the 316th rifle division, opening from which the shooting was coming.
multi-ethnic populations were distrusted and formed in Alma-Ata (now Almaty), Kazakhstan. Then, in mockery of mortal fear, he threw his body
persecuted by Stalin, while industry had been For his own personal heroics in the defence of headlong into the embrasure, suffocating fire and
moved East. Once Vera reached working age, Moscow, and the esteem in which his charges allowing his squad mates to cross the river and at-
she followed its long trail to Yakutsk, Siberia, held him, the division would later be renamed tack the bunker.
where, in a twist of irony, she met and married after its first commander, General Ivan Panfilov,
an ethnic German. who died near the front on November 19th, 1941. Many thanks to Babushka Adoption Foun-
“Life there was happy, but cold,” she recalls. The division, composed mainly of Ukrainians, Ka- dation who contributed to this article by arrang-
“We worked together for the Yakutia State Water zakhs and Kyrgyz, endured enormous losses and ing an interview with their beneficiary, Vera Wolf.
Company. The hours were long, but the people are now cherished as the Panfilovtsi. Visit www.babushkaadoption.org or call (+996
were good.” She displays a faded photograph The Panvilov Guards won mythical status just 312) 48-64-90. You can also request a back issue
from which a tall strapping German emerges four days before their General’s death, thanks to a of Spektator no.7, in which Natalya Wells writes
grinning, amongst a posse of Korean, Kazakh detachment that was fighting in Dubosekovo re- about her experiences on the road with B.A.F staff.

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
Focus 15

Historyin
colour

A
TOM WELLINGS
The photo above may appear to be the CENTURY AGO WHEN photography the 1860s that experiments with colour began
work of history loving eccentrics with a was still something of an experimen- to achieve a measure of success. The first perma-
tal proposition, Sergey Prokudin-Gor- nent colour photograph was a grainy image of
good dressing-up box, but in fact, the sky embarked on an extraordinary a tartan ribbon taken by Scotsman James Clerk
youngest child in this family was prob- mission to capture the Russian Empire Maxwell in 1861, and by the turn of the twentieth
ably born long before your grandparents. in colour. Equipped with a clever spring-oper- century several colour-pioneers were pushing
Tom Wellings looks at the work of Sergey ated camera of his own design and travelling the boundaries of technology with a variety of
Prokudin-Gorsky - Imperial Russia’s pioneer in a private railroad carriage, Prokudin-Gorsky different techniques.
crossed steppe, deserts and mountains in order The technique that Prokudin-Gorsky devel-
of colour photography.
to document the new industrial advances, and oped in the early 1900s relied on a camera that
Above Ethnic Russian settlers in the Mugan the rich diversity of cultures and landscapes in took three images in quick succession through dif-
Steppe region, south of the Caucasus Moun- the sprawling realm of the Tsar. ferent monochrome filters. It was then possible to
tains and west of the Caspian Sea. (all photo- When one delves into the Prokudin-Gorsky reconstruct the original scene in colour by project-
graphs by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky) archive today, one steps back in time to tour grand ing all three plates simultaneously through a cer-
cities and humble villages, enter private homes tain quality of light. Although groundbreaking for
Below Lev Tolstoy, 1909 and workshops, and encounter multifarious char- its day, the Prokudin-Gorsky method was not with-
acters from the downtrodden Siberian vagabond out its drawbacks. As the three images were taken
to the stately Central Asian khan. Each image is at slightly different times (at best over a period of
unmuddied by the sepia tones of more typical six seconds but frequently taking much longer)
early-twentieth century photographs allowing the any restlessness on the part of the subject showed
steely-eyed faces of Prokudin-Gorsky’s subjects to up in print as garish smears of colour. Despite this,
stare out with unsettling clarity and for the past to Prokudin-Gorsky’s results were generally far su-
come vividly to life. One is drawn to ponder the de- perior to those of his contemporaries. It is often
tails of these long forgotten lives, their experiences hard to believe the true age of some of his most
and stories, but it is possibly more fascinating to accomplished shots, the illusion of modernity only
consider what was to them still unknown - for few betrayed by the peculiar attire of his subjects.
could have forseen that they were living on the Ironically, it is only recently, in the age of Pho-
brink of a great and bloody upheaval. Before the toshop and the digitisation of photography, that
decade was through, millions of lives had been Prokudin-Gorsky’s venerable collection has been
extinguished on the Eastern Front, the Bolsheviks widely seen at its full potential. In his own day, a
had seized power, the Tsar had been murdered, laborious printing procedure restricted the pro-
and a way of life had changed forever. duction of colour prints, meaning that most of
those who appeared in the photographs likely
The Prokudin-Gorsky method never had the opportunity to see the glorious re-
Although black and white photography had sults of Prokudin-Gorsky’s endeavours for them-
been possible since the 1830s it was not until selves.
July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
16 Focus

Above left A merchant at the Samarkand Before he was famous Capturing an empire on film
market is camouflaged against his displays Prokudin-Gorsky was born in St Petersburg in Prokudin-Gorsky realised that he needed a large
of colourful silk, cotton and wool fabrics and 1863 into a minor noble family with a long- slice of luck if he was to have any chance of real-
traditional carpets. standing military tradition. Having a more cer- ising his plans, and fortunately, this proved forth-
ebral bent than his forefathers, Prokudin-Gorsky coming. His big break came in the shape of Russia’s
Above right A man selling traditional Bukha- passed on a military career and decided instead grand old man of letters, Leo Tolstoy, who granted
ran bread. The same type of bread can still be to enter the St Petersburg Institute of Technol- the photographer the opportunity to take a series
bought from street vendors in modern-day ogy to study chemistry, also finding time to study of portraits in 1909. One portrait of the author was
Bukhara. painting and music at the Imperial Academy of reproduced on colour postcards and became such
Arts. Chemistry and the Arts may not sound im- a hit across the nation that it caught the eye of
Below A water carrier, Samarkand. mediately like a happy marriage of subjects but the only man who could make Prokudin-Gorsky’s
Prokudin-Gorsky’s interest in both would meet dream a reality - Tsar Nicolas II himself.
perfectly in his passion for photography. Prokudin-Gorsky was invited to give a presen-
In 1889, at the age of twenty-six he travelled tation to the Tsar and his family later that year, and
to Germany to study photochemistry at the Ber- used the opportunity to propose his photograph-
lin Technical University. There he met and stud- ic venture. So taken was the Tsar by the colour
ied under Adolf Miethe, a fellow pioneer of colour images on show, that he agreed to give Prokudin-
photography, who was conducting early experi- Gorsky his backing, granting him royal funding as
ments with a three-color system. well as providing all necessary visa documenta-
Realising that Miethe’s methods of colour tion for his travels - no mean feat in a bureaucracy
photography needed further fine tuning, Proku- such as Russia’s. With all obstacles thus surmount-
din-Gorsky established his own photographic ed, Prokudin-Gorsky set off on what he regarded
studio upon his return to Russia in the early 1890s as his life’s calling, taking over 10,000 pictures over
and continued his research. As the years passed the course of the next nine years, right up until the
he made a name for himself in Russian photog- eve of the October Revolution.
raphy circles, winning prizes for his colour exhibi- Prokudin-Gorsky left Russia for good in 1918,
tions, and publishing pamphlets and articles on smuggling out several hundred colour plates with
the principals of colour reproduction. By 1907, him. Going first to Norway, he passed through Eng-
however, he was developing grander designs. land, and eventually settled in Paris where he died
His burning ambition was to undertake a in 1944. His collection was bought and preserved
comprehensive visual survey of the Russian Em- by the American Library of Congress in 1948, and
pire, documenting its rich ethnic and geographic in recent times has undergone digital remastering.
diversity. Surely the sheer might and enormity of A turbulent century on from their creation, the
the nation was deserving of such a monumental surviving photographs can now be enjoyed in all
endeavour? And Prokudin-Gorsky, with his rapid- their finery, and offer a vivid portrait and a poign-
ly improving colour photography skills, believed ant reminder of a lost world.
he was just the man to carry it out. More images online at: www.thespektator.co.uk
July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
Focus 17

Above Samarkand was an ancient commercial, intellectual and spiritual centre on the Silk Road from Asia to Europe. Here Prokudin-Gorsky
captures a scene outside the Registan, the centre of mediaeval Samarkand and one of the most awesome sights in all of Central Asia.

Above Two shackled convicts in Samarkand. One can’t help but wonder what crime it was that Above An unnamed official who worked at
they had commited and what the future had in store. the court of the Emir of Bukhara.
www.thespektator.co.uk July 2010 The Spektator
Bishkek’s best kept secret…

Mexican Cantina Happy Hour
7 days a week from 5-7PM

60 Som Margaritas
60 Som Baltica 7’s
350 Som Margarita Pitchers
ICED TEA MADNESS!!!!!
50 som for 1 pint
Available Flavors:
 Regular Black

 Green

 Mint

 Raspberry

 Black Currant

Fresh Lipton tea, not powder

158 Prospekt Chui

Between Beta Stores and UN House in the
Aiperi Building.
20 Focus

Spirit
of
Kashgar
T
EVAN HARRIS

The very word ‘Kashgar’ carries an inimi- WENTY-FOUR HOURS of meandering but as one of the soulless UNESCO restorations
table ring. As an oasis stirring amidst the road away, behind the hulk of the Tien that afflict the Silk Route’s historic settlements.
Shan, the charismatic antique Islam/ Without romanticizing the melancholy aesthetic
sands of the Tarim Desert, Silk Road travel-
modern China dichotomy of Kashgar of dusty Turkic poverty, it is impossible not to
lers regarded its limits as a salvation follow- awaits. But first you must endure the notice that the Chinese government seems un-
ing exhausting journeys over empty ex- world’s worst bus journey, prone to delays as interested in the plurality of approaches to ur-
panses. Yet as is the case in much of China’s passengers load whole cherry orchards into the ban housing policy, preferring its slash and burn
subdued West, the original version is being belly of the vehicle, bribes, pauses for prayer, method which conveniently erases all but token
threatened by a utilitarian ‘new town’. Evan inordinately long Chinese lunches, and the im- traces of the ethnic culture which once stood at
Harris visits a millennia-old city under siege. probable developing of coughs in the customs the heart of its cities.
queue at peak swine flu season. I daresay it’s Kashgar has been settled since 300BC and
worth it though. Kashgar makes for a passion- has been ruled by Huns, Turks, Arabs, Mon-
ate technicolour quickie after the grey, grinding gols and now Chinese. The true ethnography
stay-together-for-the-kids of Bishkek. and etymology of the Uighurs is shifting in the
The Silk Route’s rich history of trade, con- quagmire of academic debate, but Uighur tribes
quest and civilization spills into Kashgar’s seem to have settled in the Tarim basin (in which
present, but you had better visit soon; China is Kashgar sits) at the beginning of the 8th century,
holding the brush that threatens to sweep the having split from the disintegrating Uighur em-
distinctive Uighur culture into the desert. It has pire which originated in present-day Mongolia.
one of the most pronounced dissociative dis- The Chinese soon entered into a tense
orders of any Chinese city: the modern towers, and fluctuant relationship with their northern
wide roads, and confused capitalism have en- neighbours. Fantastic warriors and horsemen,
circled and in some cases intertwined with the the Tang emperors recognized them as the bar-
dense adobe warrens of Kashgar’s traditional barians that could keep other barbarians at the
dwellings. gate. But when they weren’t acting as defenders
My couchsurfer host informs me that this has of the frontier, marrying Chinese noblewomen
created de facto apartheid, and now the govern- as tribute for their troubles, the subjects of the
ment’s plan to demolish the adobe houses and Uighur kaghans were raining a chaos down on
re-accommodate the Uighur in modern high- westward-bound caravans of silk, devouring
rises threatens to ghettoise them. Examples of travelling merchants in a melee of sharpened
the traditional architecture will be preserved, metal and beating hooves.

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
Focus 21

Kashgar’s host province Xinjiang is home enshrined amidst the daily grind of a crumbling Top left An Uighur waitress watches the world
to a number of Turkic groups including the Kyr- post-Soviet infrastructure and a coup-prone state go by from a restaurant balcony (all photos
gyz; it was formerly known as Eastern Turkestan, apparatus. The other, meanwhile, lives in one of Evan Harris)
representing one half of an effective division the most rapidly-modernizing countries in the
between cultural overlords Russia, to the west, world, yet that modernization has shown itself to Above Heavy-laden donkeys still trot around
and China, to the east. Fascinatingly you can see bulldoze minority cultures, and he is a straggling Kashgar’s Old City, hawking bicycles, sheep’s
the abrupt nature of this minority. wool and other goods
separation as you drive It will be a crying
from Osh to Kashgar.
“Immersion is Kashgar’s shame when a synthet-
In Kyrgyzstan, your appeal - allow yourself to drift ic Chinese transplant
bus lurches along pot- replaces Kashgar’s
holed dirt-tracks, past around the place, drawn this organic heart, for the
pastures of yurta and
men in their distinctive
way and that by the striking beat of its pulse is vi-
brant. Deeply dejected
kalpaks. Torturously, you curiosity of its daily routine” after the bus journey, I
cross the border, going leave the fading gran-
through a Kyrgyz cus- deur of my room at
toms shack before heading over no man’s land the former British embassy - now the Qiniwak
in the direction of a white tiled Chinese complex hotel’s rear annexe - in tentative search of a mid-
replete with basketball courts to distract the night feed. Immediately I am overwhelmed by
nervous military boys. the energy coursing through the city, even at
Out the other side and your bus glides along this late hour. Eventually I find out, by way of a
smooth tarmac, past pastures of yurta and men missed meeting, that Uighurs observe local time
in their distinctive kalpaks, except now road signs instead of the official Beijing time, a subtle but
are not in Kyrgyz or Russian, but Arabic and Chi- ceaseless non-conformity said to infuriate the
nese. With delays at the border, fifteen hours can upper ranks of China’s elite.
separate one Kyrgyz village from the other. As you Sitting down in an enormous café, I battle
make the journey, you will therefore have plenty through the language barrier with imprecise
of time to consider which kalpak-wearing man is hand jabbing and settle into a liver, skin and fat
the more fortuitous. One became the titular na- kebab, accompanied by a starch jelly and chilli
tionality in an independent country, his culture salad. It is delicious.

www.thespektator.co.uk July 2010 The Spektator
22 Focus

Travel Details
So is the fresh fruit thrust upon you by street brick honeycomb of alleys, courtyards and hous-
sellers, as is the native lagman dramatically es stands on millennia old foundations and is in-
beaten out in front of you in the old town’s res- habited by over 200 thousand Uighurs. Passing
The bus from Osh to Kashgar via the Irkeshtam taurants. The streets leading off the main square by open doorways and courtyards you glimpse
pass costs $75, and is one you’ll remember for outside the Id Khah mosque are positively alive veiled women tending to simple domesticity;
a while unless you selectively erase it from your with the sight and smell of truly exotic food - poultry, wells and washing lines. Giggling girls
memory. Allow at least 24 hours and come well pass up nothing if your stomach and balls are glide by on bicycles, their red frocks blurring
prepared with food and water (unlike yours tru- big enough. against the uninterrupted desert browns of
ly). Be prepared to be unable to communicate Immersion is Kashgar’s appeal - allow your- these ancient structures. In their open-fronted
with anybody on the bus including the driver self to drift around the place, drawn this way workshops, leather skinned men turn tools from
and fixer- everyone was Uighur/Chinese and and that by the strik- pale woods and ham-
none of them spoke a lick of Russian. ing curiosity of its daily “A few blocks away a twenty mer horseshoes in front
Alternatively you can get a bus to Sary Tash routine. An infectious
and then hitch to the border from there. Or you momentum ebbs and
metre concrete Chairman Mao of furious furnaces as
skull-capped sorts gos-
can get a taxi to the border for between $135- flows through the day would like to remind you that this sip over perpetually
150. As always, the friendly guys in Osh Guest- on a current of chat- is China after all, and modernity poured pots of tea on
house will sort you out with all the information tering beards in tea- pavements broken by
you need. houses, climaxing after is coming to get you” embroidered blankets.
Alternatively you can go via the reportedly evening prayer when Kashgar’s beauty is in
hit and miss Torugart pass from Bishkek. Check the Id Khah mosque spews worshippers out this timelessness. Then, without warning, glo-
travel agents in Bishkek and/or Thorntree to get of its yellow mouth, into the square and sur- balization slaps you with the bizarre motif of a
the lowdown.
rounding eateries. The square itself is an amphi- drably veiled woman carrying a live chicken in
I went to eight other hotels (long story), and
theatre of simple drama: frolicking families play a Morrison’s (British supermarket) carrier bag. A
stayed in four, so I know that for your bucks the
with beach balls, scruffy street kids make play- few blocks away a twenty metre concrete Chair-
rear annexe at the Qiniwak hotel is your best bet.
grounds of the public space. In the evening your man Mao would like to remind you that this is
Karakoram cafe opposite the Qiniwak hotel
spine is shivered by the wail of the muezzin, as China after all, and modernity is coming to get
will sort you out with a cappuccino, very help-
late young men sprint, and greybeards hobble you.
ful travel advice, and local guides. They also do
western food if you’re homesick, but seriously across the paving to commune with their Allah. No doubt there are plusses to modern Chi-
make the most of the local cuisine. http://crown- During the day, go and get lost in and nese cities, and there is indeed excitement to be
inntashkorgan.com/karakoramcafeesp.html amongst the Old City that stood in for Kabul had for the western tourist in ‘uptown’ Kashgar,
in box office hit ‘The Kite Runner’. This earthen with its confusion of familiar concrete structures

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
Focus 23

and alien street stalls. But make no mistake, of the future is offered by the city’s main bazaar, Far left: The bicycle is still the most used form
a more ruthlessly developed metropolis like which has been sanitised and re-housed in a cav- of transport in China, the largely Islamic
Chengdu is now indistinguishable from a bland ernous structure that has little to offer for those Xinjiang region included
western prototype, and shares none of Kashgar’s already familiar with Central Asia’s markets.
historic saving graces. More authentic oddities are to be found in Left An Uighur man in the Old City
Where remnants of China’s ancient civilisa- the surrounding streets however. A cacophony
tions possess a fragile charm, modern China of tenuously chained dogs bray at onlookers as Above A young girl helps a veiled relative
simply has oddities. Not content with erecting they are bargained for next to bundles of hay navigate her way home after a visit to one of
monuments to their own recent mythology (hel- sold out the back of a horse and cart. Cheerfully the mini-bazaars in Kashgar’s side alleys
lo again, Mao), I stumble across a bizarre circle paraded out front of a carpet workshop, Kash-
of Snow White’s seven dwarves cast in concrete gar’s indigenous weave has produced a rug cel-
in front of a ferris wheel an adobe brick’s throw ebrating (not commemorating) the 9/11 attacks.
from the Old City. The dichotomy is truly appar- Confined to the outskirts of the town is
ent in the most advanced beggars this young Kashgar’s famous livestock market, now re-
writer has seen. On the concrete streets of the duced to having an instrumental commercial
modern city, x-rays of smashed limbs and tuber- purpose rather than being the city social hub
culosis-infected lungs are propped up next to it once was. Having recently visited a similar
the afflicted. One even limply clings to an intra market in Kyrgyzstan, I already knew the drill.
venous drip of piss yellow liquid, which feeds Here, men in their element haggle over a variety
into his chest of weeping, livid red sores. of livestock drawn from large lorries, or pulled
The tension between modern China and its roughshod from the boots of cars. Children pa-
indigenous Uighur violently expressed itself in rade cavorting horses and women showcase
riots that left hundreds dead shortly after I left. the animal’s final destinations - succulent fatty
Though there was no trace of violence during kebabs. The Kyrgyz version, I remember, was
my stay (aside from Turkic tempers), the locals Siamese-twinned with a used car market.
I spoke to were deeply aggrieved by what was Similarly, Kashgar’s Old City also has an in-
happening to their city. One owner of a tour dustrialized counterpart trading under the same
company told me his business prospects were name, but new Kashgar moves more like a pol-
bleak if Kashgar’s antique draw was erased; he ished juggernaut than a rusting lada. Brave the
was already struggling in a global recession year bus ride from hell to catch the original, before it
that had left the town empty of tourists. A taste loses out in this simmering sibling rivalry.

www.thespektator.co.uk July 2010 The Spektator
Weekend 25
CROSSWORD QUICK QUIZ The End: A Bazaar Attack
1.) Which Welsh poet wrote the It is a hot, dusty day in Bishkek’s northern suburbs,
radio play Under Milk Wood? far from the cooling influence of the Tien Shan
2.) Which woman played Bob mountains at the opposite end of the capital’s
Dylan in the 2007 film ‘I’m Not sprawl. In Central Asia’s largest bazaar, Dordoi,
There’? amidst shrinking profit margins, inflation and gen-
3.) Kate Hudson is the daughter eral economic impotence, insults are traded and
of which Academy Award win- tempers flare. But you never expect yours to be
ning American actress? one of them.
4.) Which city would you associ- I was rooting around the bazaar with my Dad,
ate with ‘the Golden Horn’?
who had made the long-haul trip from England,
5.) Hemingway’s ‘Death in the
via Amsterdam and Moscow’s charmless Sherem-
Afternoon’ is an account of
which sport? etevo airport, to visit me in Kyrgyzstan. Any family
6.) You are in a square room. holiday, usually on Dad’s instigation, includes a trip
There is a window on each wall. to the local markets, a haggle in the language of
All the windows face south. A hands and shaking heads, and at the end of it all,
bear walks past one of the win- with the will of the wind, a bargain. Having raided
dows. What colour is it? Osh bazaar for its pillow cases and shyrdak rugs,
the Dordoi was next on the list. And we made a
pole. good start. Dad purchased a straw hat (branded as
fighting 6) White. You’re on the north
‘the Australian’ but plainly made in China) for just
under a pound. I bought a football for just over.
chette 3) Goldie Horn 4) Istanbul 5) Bull
Satisfied with our morning’s trade we paused for
Answers: 1) Dylan Thomas 2) Cate Blan-

Crossword answers can be found online at www.thespektator.co.uk/cw.html chicken shashlyk and bottles of Arpa in a skanky
café. Peaceful.
Across SUDOKU Yet on our return to the garments bazaar, we
1 Ounce (4,7) Medium became embroiled in a violent brawl.
9 Beatrix Potter character (3,6) The assailant was a wiry Kyrgyz, skull cap lilt-
10 Standard (3)
11 Timepiece (5)
ed over a haunting face, eyes wild with undirected
13 Early film star and director (7) rage. Suddenly they find a direction. “Eto ti blahd!”
14 Account book (6) he yells. Without further elaboration, the imbecile
15 Phantom (6) goes for my neck, but I shove him off, telling him
18 Writing system for the blind (7)
to calm down. The market, quiet before lunch, was
CROSSWORD CLUES

20 Encourage - applaud (5)
21 Sever - hurt - snub (3) heaving now. Trapped in a throng of people at its
22 Red or white blood cell (9) main entrance, a quick escape is impossible. He
24 Accusation of guilt in court (11) lurches again, ripping open my favourite t-shirt.
This is when the northern English playground
Down
2 Game with pile of matches (3) mentality, dormant for so many years, surfaces
3 Line (in flesh) (7) with a shameless vengeance: I can tek ‘im.
4 Allure (6) Pushed forward by a man who just wants to
5 Columbus’s ship - some milk! (5) get through, I lunge into a full blown fist fight with
6 Disgusting (9)
my attacker. He springs back and we are weaving,
7 Fish (11)
8 Chips (6,5) jiving, a crowd of concerned faces blurring around
12 Classic painter (3,6) Easy us. Using his weak arm, my father protects me by
16 New member (7) fending off another assault, his Chinese/Australian
17 Non-imperial (6) straw hat ripped off his head and crushed under-
19 Particular position of something (5)
23 Sound of dove (3)
foot as he does so. I hit the man again, this time in
the face, but he comes back, eyeballs suspended
in mid-jump from their sockets, murderous now. I
BRAINTEASERS am fighting, I realise, not with a person, but with a
fear of insanity itself. The line between the stable
Seven friends are comparing their height on and the deranged is thinner than we can know. I
a wall chart. Donna is the second tallest of the want to beat the madness off but it engulfs me.
group. Shelly and Alice are shorter than Donna.
Other people are getting involved. “That
Hannah is shorter than Shelly but taller than Rich-
idiot attacked him because he’s Russian,” and “he
ard. Ben is taller than Alice but shorter than Jack
shouldn’t have raised his hands to the mentalist,”
and Donna. Shelly is shorter than Alice. What is
the height order of the seven friends from tallest and “I’ve already phoned the police.” Shit, the po-
to shortest? lice. They’d chuck us in a cell with that nut, or extort
money from us, I thought. We don’t have our pass-
I am a sporting celebration. Change one letter ports. How the hell did we get into this fight any-
and I can knock down trees. Change another let- way?!! But that wasn’t important. Soon we were
ter and I am a valley. Rearrange my letters and I ‘doing one’ - running for a taxi, a sanctuary. The
am a commercial transaction. Finally add one let-
ANSWERS

loon is throwing fists at other people now. No-one
ter and I am prefect. What was I and what did I can restrain his slight, volatile frame, the violence is
become? spreading. A young boy runs up behind us. “Baike,
Answers Jack, Donna, Ben, Alice, Shelly, Hannah baike you dropped your football!” But it had burst
and Richard; Gala, gale, dale, deal, ideal. -
in the melee, much like our day at the market.

www.thespektator.co.uk July 2010 The Spektator
THE GUIDE Bishkek life
Bars
Chuchuara Hoga (117, Chui) International
and
With this Chinese restaurant, a little out of the way
and rarely visited by tourists, you really feel you 2x2* (Isanova/Chui)

restaurants are getting the real deal. Request a хого (your own
personal Chinese boiling-pot) and randomly select
Trendy drinking hole with a circular bar and friend-
ly staff. A good place for knocking back a few pre-
nightclub cocktails. Slouch into one of the comfy
There’s a fine line between ‘bar’ and ‘restaurant’ in a variety of unusual Chinese delicacies to throw in.
lounge seats and try to look cool. $$$
Bishkek. Places more suitable for drinking sessions Beware, the ‘spicy’ sauce, although delicious, may
are marked with a star * leave delicate stomachs in some distress several
hours later - consider the ‘not-spicy’ sauce as a suit- 12 Chimneys (TeplIkluchy village)
Price Guide (main course and a garnish) able alternative $$ Wooden cabin located by a rushing stream thirty min-
$ - Expect change from 150 som utes out of town. The overpriced food is more than
$$ - A little over 250 should do the trick Frunze compensated for by the chilled atmosphere and wild
$$$ - Expect to pay in the region of 350 (Chui/Pravda) surroundings. Hotel accommodation also available.
$$$$ - A crisp 500 (or more) needed in this joint Free semechki is one of many reasons to check out Head south on Almatinskaya and keep going. $$$$
this lively hangout, rammed with Chinese at lunch
American and dinner time. The menu is encyclopediac in
terms of scope, but if you’re feeling bewildered,
Bacardi (Togolok Moldo 17/1)
Elite lounge bar affair with separate rooms for din-
Cowboy* (Toktogul/Orozbekova) just point to something tasty-looking on a neigh- ing, dancing and whiling the night away smoking
Bishkek’s all-American restaurant-cum-dance club bouring table like we did. $$ hukkah pipes. Urban grooves played at a reason-
has now gone a little more up-market, but wild able volume and a full menu that includes a range
Peking Duck I & II
nights are still to be had. Dig in to a kilo of chicken of tasty platters. $$$$
(Soviet/Druzhba & Chui/Tog. Mol.)
wings and then hit the dance floor. $$$
Huge portions to feed even the biggest of glut- Blonder Pub (Pravda/Kulatova
tons and an English language menu that provides Blonder Pub is the new brewery-restaurant to try
Hollywood*(Druzhba/Sovietskaya)
plenty of amusing translations. $$ out. Cavernous yet cosy inside, there’s decent blues
As you would probably guess, decorated with
movie posters, photos of cinema icons and a bunch Shaolin (Zhibek Zholu/Prospect Mir) every night, live Premiership Football, Eurogrub
of American kitsch. Hollywood is popular with a This tidy looking restaurant sticks out for its sheer and a good selection of ales. In regard to the latter
younger crowd and is usually packed from mid- range of oriental dishes and its large, round tables we recommend ‘Datski Shnaffer’. $$$$
evening onwards. A fun place for a few drinks before that make it ideal for extended gatherings. $$ Buddha Bar (Sovietskaya/Akhunbayeva)
heading off to the clubs. $$ Buddha bar offers a taste of the East inside a tastefully
Metro* (133, Chui)
Dungan constructed zen log cabin. The sushi is excellent, and
In the impressive location of a former theatre, Metro for those on a budget, the stir-fry noodle dishes make
Hui Min (Relocated to the Hotel Dostuk)
remains the première drinking hole for ex-pats. A an excellent lunch. Recommended! $$$$
A former favourite, we have been told that Hui Min
high ceiling, a long bar and friendly staff compli- has now relocated to the Hotel Dostuk. Apparently Captain Nemo’s (14, Togolok Moldo)
ment a good Tex-Mex menu and a wide selection the menu has been revamped and the prices in- Small nautically themed restaurant with a selection
of drinks. Metro is one of the best bets for catch- creased. The Spektator will be checking it out soon. of evocatively named dishes including ‘Fish from the
ing sporting events on TV, although thanks to the We hope they still serve the special Dungan tea, as ship’s boy’ and ‘Tongue from the boatswain’s wife’.
hideously late kickoff times for Champions League it’s rather good. Cosy wooden interior and porthole style windows
football matches, don’t count on the staff waiting up create an underwater log cabin experience. Spirits,
unless it’s a big one. $$$
Georgian cocktails and a good business lunch. $$$
New York Pizza (177, Kievskaya) Mimino (27, Kievskaya) Coffee House (9, Manas & Togolok Moldo/Ryskulova)
Decorated with pictures of the Big Apple and serv- Mimino is nice, cosy and serves up bowl-fulls of steam- Treat yourself to some of the finest coffee and
ing a fine selection of steaks and other American- ing, hearty Georgian fare with pomegranate seeds cakes Bishkek has to offer at the imaginatively
themed dishes, NYP is sure to get New Yorkers think- a-plenty. We recommend the kjadjapuri, khinkali and named ‘Coffee House’, a cosy boutique café with a
ing of home. For home delivery ring (0312) 909909. anything that’s served in a pot. Watch out for Uncle Joe European flavour. Curl up and read a book, or just
$$$ at the door. $$$$ drop in for a caffeine hit and a chocolate fix. $$$

Armenian German Concord (Alatoo Square)
Waiting staff dressed as airline stewards and an in-
Landau (Manas/Gorky) Steinbrau* (5, Gerzena) terior featuring some aeronautical paraphernalia
Fancy something a little different? If you can tol- Don your beer drinking trousers and head down attempt to lend a little glamour to this small diner
erate the arthritic service, Landau isn’t a bad spot to Bishkek’s take on a Bavarian-style beer hall. They just off Ala-too Square. Cheap business lunches. $
for a pork steak or some other Armenian culinary brew their own stuff - such a relief from the insipid
goodies. Also, treat yourself to some decent Arme- bilge that’s normally sold as lager. Compliment your Cosmo Bar* (Sovietska/Moskovskaya)
nian conjac whilst your here, you’ll never go near pint with a plate of German sausage with sauerkraut. Board the sweet smelling elevator, ascend to the
Bishkek conjac again. Ever. $$$ $$$ top-floor Cosmo Bar and splash the cash with your
fellow free-spending cosmonauts. Elegant interior,
plush sofas, fancy drinks and pretty waitresses.
Chinese Uighur Huzzah! $$$$
Ak-Bata (108, Ibraimova) Karavan (Almatinkskoya/Chui) Crostini (191, Abdrahmanova)
This place must serve up pretty authentic dishes Excellent little stolvya (canteen) full of the timeless Situated inside the Hyatt, this is a joint to be re-
as it’s always full of Chinese playing mah-jong and regional favourites. Being an Uighur restaurant its gero served for a business lunch or marriage proposal
only. Chef Taner Erdemir serves up mouth-water-
waving their chopsticks about. Smoky and stuffy, lagman or lagman pa Uighurski particularly stand out.
ing international cusine, but at a price. $$$$$
but in a nice way. $ No smoking, sit, eat and leave. $

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
Bars, Restaurants & Clubs 27
Dillinger* (Gorky/Tynystanova) Lounge Bar* (338a, Frunze) Cyclone (136, Chui)
Glamorous VIP complex including a restaurant, bar One of our favourite places to drink in the Summer- Smart Italian restaurant with plush interior, efficient,
and casino. A decedantly decorated and perculiarly time, when we can afford it. Outdoor balcony-cum- polite serving staff and a warm atmosphere to al-
endearing homage to the notorious bank robber - terrace high above the street with slouch-couches leviate Bishkek’s winter chills. Pasta dishes stand out
we’re sure he would appreciate it. $$$$ and fine views of the circus - which you can some- among a menu of traditional Italian favourites. $$$
times smell in hot weather. Nice. $$$
Fatboy’s* (Chui/Tynystanova) Dolce Vita (116a, Akhunbaeva)
Civilized, friendly cafe bang in the middle of town and Navigator (103, Moskovskaya) Cosy Italian restaurant with smiling waitresses serv-
a popular ex-pat meeting point. Sensible spot for con- A pricy, but pleasant place to while away an after- ing excellent pizza. Also serves salads and European
versation, but if you’re alone there’s a mini-library to pe- noon. Sit in the bar area over a beer or lounge in the cuisine. Small terrace outside for summertime din-
ruse (although literary classics are thin on the ground). ing. $$
airy non-smoking conservatory. Attentive service
Check out the American pancakes for breakfast, top
and a refreshing selection of salads, a good place
marks. $$$
for a light, healthy lunch when fat and grease are Japanese
Four Seasons (116a, Tynystanova) getting you down. $$$$
One of the poshest places to eat out in Bishkek. El- Aoyama (93, Toktogula)
egant, yet modern interior and polite service. Great Stary Edgar’s* (15, Panfilova) Elegant sushi joint frequented by serious looking
place to splash out on a special occasion or just for The concrete monstrosity of the Russian Theatre con- suited-types concluding their latest dodgy deals.
the hell of it. $$$$ ceals one of Bishkek’s finest attempts at a cosy base- The food’s excellent though - if you can scrape to-
gether enough soms. $$$$
ment bar. Friendly staff, a decent menu and a collection
Foyer (27, Erkindik ) of old bits and bobs decorating the walls make Edgar’s Watari (Shevchenko, Frunze)
Run by a friendly young couple, Foyer is an excel- an attractive alternative to the city’s mainstream cafés. A small Japanese-owned restaurant that serves su-
lent place to enjoy an evening cocktail or check shi as well as dishes with a more indian flavour. The
A blues band plays most nights and a pianist adds a ro-
your inbox with a cup of coffee. Free Wi-Fi, good refined atmosphere makes it ideal for a business
mantic ambience on some Sunday evenings. $$$
deserts and live music on Wednesday and Saturday. meeting or just a sophisticated night out $$$
Recommended! $$$$
U Mazaya (Behind ‘Zaks’ on Sovietskaya)
Griffon (Microregion 7) Possibly Central Asia’s only rabbit themed restaurant. Korean
A cosy log-cabin affair with a large meat-roasting Descend into this underground warren and tuck in.
central fireplace. On one disturbing occasion the Also check out the fairy-light adorned flagship sister- Petel (52, Zhykeeva Pudovkin)
waiting staff were about as plesant as a bunch of rabbit-restaurant in Asenbai micro region. $$$ Operating in the back room of a Korean family’s
chavs, but hopefully that was a passing phase. $$$ house, this is Korean style home-cooking at its most
Vavilon (Microregion 7) personal. Closed on Sunday. Ring: 0543 922539 $$

Do you want to play Finely presented dishes, reasonably priced beer (60

Cricket?
som) genuinely friendly and attentive service and a Santa Maria (217, Chui)
music playlist that mixes up a bit of soul, jazz, swing Plush Korean restaurant offering Eastern favourites,
and classical tracks played at just the right volume. including exciting Korean barbecues where you get
Live music from 8-ish on most evenings. Definitely to cook your own dinner, plus an extensive Euro-
The Spektator is selling a pean menu. $$$
shorthandle secondhand cricket bat, worth the trek out to the suburbs ( tell your taxi driver
to turn left at the yuzhniy vorota and head towards
imported from England and used
Asenbai for about 1.5km) $$$
Lebanese
several times on the green fields of
Beirut (Shevchenko/Frunze)
Bishkek. 1700 som. Also, 2 tennis Indian Now in a new location, Beirut continues to serve en-
raquets available for 1000/1500 som. The Host (Sovietskaya, opposite the Hyatt) ticing Lebanese goodies including falaffle, humus,
A varied and interesting menu including fine Indian and tasty little meat pie things. $$$
Contact editor@thespektator.co.uk
food make this place a real treat. On midweek days
there are also several excellent business lunch deals
offering a soup, salad, main course and dessert for Moldovan
Jam* (179, Toktogula) 250-350 som. A real stand out and a Spektator fa-
An underground oasis of cool. Jam is a cafe with a vourite! $$$$ Moldova Restaurant (Kievskaya/Turusbekova)
full menu, kalians (shisha pipes) and a lounge bar If it’s been a while since you last went out for a
atmosphere, open till 3am . $$$$ Italian Moldovan, this wooden paneled, sturdy-tabled ea-
tery may be the answer to your prayers. Also, the
Jumanji (Behind the circus) Adriatico (219, Chui) Moldovan Embassy is next door should you care
It’s strange. This place is decorated with fake jungle Reportedly suffering following the departure of to learn more about the world’s favourite budget-
foliage and is based on a crap kids’ film yet still sort its Italian chef, Walter, although we have been told wine exporting country. $$$
of works. You also get to roll a pair of Jumanji dice that the soup is still excellent. $$$$
before you order for the chance to win a special se- Regional/Central Asian
cret prize - we like this. $$$ Bella Italia (Kievskaya/K.Akiev)
Adriatico’s former Italian chef, Walter, has moved Arabica* (Mederova/Tynastanova)
Live Bar* (Kulatova/Pravda) homes and is now serving a practically identical range This formerly sophisticated laid back shisha pipe)
Twenty-four hour sports bar with live music at of dishes at this spot just behind October cinema. bar has moved to a new location and, by the looks
weekends. Plenty of leather couches provide the Enjoy the best pizza in town, gnocci and other typi- of the bath in the toilets, may still be under devel-
ideal place to sip cocktails whilst watching the cal Italian numbers, tasty business lunches from 200 opment. Three floors, VIP rooms, kaliyans aplenty.
Champions league at three in the morning. $$$$ soms. $$$$ $$$

Spektator
THE

.co.uk
Find the best bars in town with the Spektator and thespektator.co.uk

www.thespektator.co.uk July 2010 The Spektator
28 Bars, Restaurants & Clubs
Arzu-II (Sovietskaya/Lev Tolstoy bridge) Zaporyzhia (9, Prospect Mira) Apple (28, Manas)
Twenty-four hour joint that’s a godsend for those Recently opened, Zaporyzhia is a cossack fla- Fat, old, lecherous foreigners not welcome, this
who get cravings for lagman or manti at four in voured restauraunt in a varnish-scented log cab- place is for a younger cooler crowd. Multiple bars,
the morning. Sometimes smoking isn’t allowed, in. Hearty rustic dishes and a homely atmosphere. large dance floor, friendly atmosphere. Thursday
sometimes it is, however the food and prices are The medovukha is recommended! $$$ usually a big night. (Entrance charge 100-300 som)
constantly pretty good. Comfy booth style seats to
dig yourself into after a heavy night. $$ Turkish Arbat (9, Karl Marks)
Ajar (On Erkindik between Moskovskaya, Toktogula) Tel. 512094; 512087
Arzu-I (Togolok Moldo, next to the stadium) Smart ‘elite’ club popular with a slightly older
Offers a hearty selection of Kyrgyz and European Technically an ‘Azerbaijanian’, but don’t let this fact crowd. Strip bar and restaurant in same building.
dishes and a homely atmosphere. There’s also a ruin the best value kebabs in town. The menu is (Entrance charge 200/350 som midweek, 350/450
great outdoor terrace and national favorouit Arpa limited and if your Russian is too, just say ‘kebab’ and som Fri/Sat. Strip bar 700 som)
on draught. $$ something cheap and tasty will arrive. $
City Club (85/1, Zhukeyeva-Pudovkina)
Derevyashka* (Ryskulova, behind Dvorets Sporta) Carlson (166, Sovietskaya) Tel. 511513; 510581
Atmospheric drinking cabin that serves a range A good outdoor terrace and some hearty food, but So exclusive it makes the Spektator crowd feel like
of Central Asian and Russian cuisine, as well as an the Karaoke style crooners who provide evening cheap scum bags, City Club is one of the posh-
impressive array of pivo. Well worth it on football entertainment are an acquired taste. $$ est clubs in town. Get past the ‘face control’ (ugly
nights, when the locals are rather rowdy. $ people beware) and spend your evening with gang-
Huzur (Kievskaya/Togoluk Moldo,)
Faiza (Jibek Jolu/Prospect Mira) Convivial proprietor Ali claims to have Steven Ger- ster types, lecherous diplomats, Kazakh business-
Possibly the best place to munch traditional grub rard’s 2005 Champion’s League winning Liverpool men and a posse of young rich kids who all seem to
in town. Their fried pelmeni and manti are so good shirt. If you don’t believe that, belive in free lipyosh- have studied in London. (Entrance charge: girls 200/
that they have often run out by supper-time. Save ka and good, affordable Turkish cuisine. $$ boys 300, Fri/Sat girls 300/boys 500
an appetite and go early. $$ Golden Bull (Chui/Togolok Moldo)
Konak (Sovietskaya/Gorkova)
Forel (Vorentsovka village) This Turkish joint used to be ‘Restaurant Camelot’ Tel. 620131
Twenty minutes outside of Bishkek, Forel is a fish- hence the incongruous suits of armour in the back A Bishkek institution. Full of ex-pats and tourists liter-
based ‘relaxation centre’ set amongst babbling room, and the rather crappy castle facade. However, ally every night of the week. Long bar, friendly staff,
streams and offering fine veiws of the mountains. Fish the food is often great, the salads are large and fresh, cheapish beer, everyone’s happy. (Entrance charge
your own trout out of a pool and have it deep fat fried and the staff are always pleasant. Recommended! [girls/boys] free/400 midweek, 150/400 Fri/Sat. ‘For-
for your pleasure. Only salads, bread, tea and juice are (And now open 24 hours a day) $$ eigners’ free.)
sold on site but you are welcome to bring any booze
Retro Metro (24, Mira)
Night
or garnish you desire, it’s also possible to rent a BBQ.
www.retrometro.kg
To get there take a taxi to Vorentsovka village and, if

Clubs
Bright, happy, 80’s kitsch bar, the DJ spins his rec-
your taxi driver doesn’t know the exact location, ask a
ords from inside the front of a VW camper van. One
friendly villager. Trout is 800som/kilo $$$
of the most popular places for post-2am partying.
Jalalabad (Togolok Moldo/Kievskaya) (Entrance charge: 200/300 som midweek, 350/450
Basically the cheapest food (that won’t give you gut There are some Bishkek old-hands who say that som Fri/Sat. Reserve for 200 som)
rot) in the centre of town. While it should stand out things aren’t what they used to be when it comes to
for its fresh lagman, Jalalabad is sometimes over- nightlife in Bishkek. They talk of legendary nights of Live Music
looked. Probably at its best in summer, when the carnage, vomit, and debauchery - delights that con-
shashlyk masters flanking the entrance offer their temporary Bishkek struggles to offer. Promzona (16, Cholpon-Atinskaya)
creations straight to guests sitting at Eastern-style Not so, we say. Take your pick from the list below and www.promzona.kg
tables – cross your legs and see how long you can we’re sure there’s still enough carnage, vomit and Promzona’s far-flung location sadly means a taxi
last before cramp sets in. $ debauchery in town to keep everyone happy. ride or a long walk home are in order at the end
of a night. Nevertheless, this trendy live music
venue has a lot going for it: good bands, an exten-
Diskoklubs
Advertise with sive menu, and a hip industrial interior featuring,

the Spektator
Heaven (Frunze/Pravda - in the Hotel Dostuk) strangely, a wind tunnel fan, make this one of the
As Heaven is found inside a hotel it is surprisingly best nights out in Bishkek. Tuesday is Jazz night.
unseedy. In fact it stands out for being a bastion of Rock or blues bands normally play at the week-
Rates from 1500 som per page. the well-dressed (if one is generous). Turn up in tatty ends. (Music charge 200-350 som)
jeans and a t-shirt and you may feel a little out of Tequila Blues (Turesbekova/Engels)
Email:
place; then again, you may not give a shit. Tables by A possible misnomer, the tequila is just fine but
advertise@thespektator.co.uk the dancefloor cost 1000 som but include drinks up the blues is non-existent. Russian studenty types
to this value. (Entrance charge 200-400 som) mosh away the nights to Rock bands in an at-
mospheric underground bunker. (Music charge
Russian/Ukrainian Fire & Ice (Tynystanova/Erkindik) 150 som)
A slightly grittier version of Golden Bull. Again, for-
Pirogoff-Vodkin (Kievskaya/Togolok Moldo) eigners can often get in for free. Popular throughout Sweet Sixties (Molodaya Gvardia/Kievskaya)
Classy restaurant with a turn of the 20th century the week. (Entrance ‘foreigners’ free) Live cover bands most nights. Full menu, popular
atmosphere serving Russian specialities. Have your with a younger crowd. $$
tea in a giant samovar. $$$ Pharoah (East side of the Philharmonic)
An underground lair packed with eyecatching nods Zeppelin (43, Chui)
Khutoryanka (Sovietskaya/Lev Tolstoy bridge)
to Ancient Egypt. Foreigners can sometimes negoti- Zeppelin is in the same vein as the old Tequila
Unassuming, to put it mildly, on the outside, this
ate cheaper or free entry, but be prepared for the big Blues but not quite so spit and sawdust. On the
place is a revelation on the inside. Delicious food,
sting inside - beer costs the best part of 200som. nights we’ve visited, there’s been a line up of young
reasonable service, Ukrainian brass band music
Charge ( 400-500 som) rock or punk bands strutting their stuff, heavier
on the cd player. We love it! $$$
beats seem to go down best with the young Rus-
Taras Bulba (Near the Yuzhniy Vorota on Sovietskaya) Platinum (East side of the Philharmonic) sian crowd. Full restaurant menu.
Like all the Ukrainian restaurants we’ve tried in Take a seat at the snazzy 360 degree bar and do bat- (Entrance charge 100-150 som)
Bishkek, Taras Bulba serves great food. We liked the tle with some of Kyrgyzstan’s most convivial ‘elite’ for
potato pancakes with caviar, the delicious soups gold-digging temptresses. (Entrance charge 400- Live music also common at Stary Edgar’s, Beatles
and fresh salads. $$$ 500 som) Bar, Foyer and Blonder Pub (see ‘restaurants’)

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk
Map 29
a Gvardia
o l o d aya Gvardi Mol o d aya
M

Jibek
Jo lu
Kievskaya
THE MOUNTAINS

Chui
Engelsa
Lva Tolstogo

3

Toktogula
1 2 13
23 ve.
Manas a
ve.
Manas a4 5

Ryskulova

Jumabe
ve.
Manas a

Kievskaya
Moskovskaya

Isanova

k
6 11

T. Abdymom
Isanova 8 Koenkozo
va
Isanova 7
12 Dvorets
Sporta
9 10

unov stadium
oldo
Togolok M

Jibe
Michael Frunze
Spartak

k Jo
Chui
Toktogula

k o 14
Logvinen
Moskovskaya

va
Orozbeko
15

Juma

Baeto
16
Lva Tolstog

va
Orozbeko a
Razzakov
Bokonbaeva

bek

va
18 a
Razzakov
17 Erkind
Abdym

Erkindik
Tugolbay

Michae
om
o

19 21
l Frunze
unova

a ova
Fatianov Tynystan
ova
Tynystan 20 AYA
SOVETSK
AYA
Circus

26 27 SOVETSK
Chui

AYA
Kievskaya

SOVETSK aev a 24
22
Shopoko
va
A. Usenb
Toktogula

25
Lva

va
Shopoko
Pravda
a
Elebaev
Tol

Pravda
sto

lya
Gogo
Ogonbae
Moskov
go

North
Bokonb

lya
Gogo
va

www.thespektator.co.uk July 2010 The Spektator
30 What’s On
World Cup Final Trekking Union Dates for July Festival Season
Monday 12th July 00.30 am 10th-11th July Festival of Kyrgyz Cuisine: 17th July
Various bars and Restaurants Trip to Tyuk Issyk-Ata and Kek Moinok Gorges Karool-Dobo, Chon Kemin Valley
Having blown our money on the boys from Brazil, Two day trip to the Alpine zone of the Tyuk Issik Cooking demos of ancient Kyrgyz dishes, recipe
we won’t be making a tip for the big event aside Ata gorge via the Kek Moinok gorge. Overnight explanations, traditional music and national
from where to watch it. WIth other bars and res- camping. Trek to Lake Kek Moinok (2713 m.) games. For booking Tel. +996 (0)312 443331 Mob.
taurants seeking to cash in on the WCF we have Open air picnic and return to Bishkek. 20 km trip +996 (0)772 542543 email: reservation@cbtkyr-
been asured that tables will not cost at ‘Church- suitable for all abilities. gyzstan.kg or visit CBT office on 58 Gorky St.
ill’, a cosy, vaguely Brit themed joint, Sovietskaya
34. Call them to book a table: (0312) 472 131 17th July At Chabysh Horse Festival: 17th - 18th July
Hike and climb along Chongerchuck Gorge (Gorno Badakhstan, Tajikistan)
Bluesday Tuesdays One day trip to the Chongerchuck gorge. Trek-
king along the gorge and rock-climbing practice.
Long distance horse racing, traditional horse
games, poetry slams, concerts, handicraft exhibi-
Every Tuesday, 8.00pm Hike to a local waterfall and pick vulnerary plants tions and yurta. Visit: www.atchabysh.com
‘Foyer’, Erkindik 27, Tel: 0312 66 40 79 Practical training provided by instructors.
Underground cafe Foyer have confirmed the Festival of National Horse Games: 24th July
recommencement of their live music schedule, 18th July Kok-Jaiyk area, Jeti-Orguz Gorge (55km from
their popular piano/saxaphone duet moving Bishkek to Birbuylak Karakol)
from their previous Wednesday evening slot. Hike to Birbulyak gorge. Visit a local waterfall Horse games, plus folklore show and Kyrgyz cui-
and collect vulnerary plants. Same day return to sine. For booking Tel. +996 (0)312 443331 Mob.
July Dates Bishkek. +996 (0)772 542543 email reservation@cbtkyr-
gyzstan.kg or visit CBT office at 58 Gorky Street.
16th July 23rd - 25th July
A Criminal Incident Trek in Birbuylak and Chongerchuck Gorges
Cleaning up Son Kul Lake: 24th - 25th July
Comedy in Russian Three day trip starting from Issyk-Ata gorge,
Son Kul Lake (100km from Kochkor)
Russian Drama Theatre crossing the Chon Partak pass (category 1A).
Do some good this summer - join a team of
Tel: 66 20 32 Overnight stop near Kek Moinok gorge. Second
volunteers as they clean up the shore of one of
overnight stop at the tent camp by Lake Kek
Kyrgyzstan’s most beautiful natural attractions.
23rd July Moinok. Total distance around 22km, beginners
It won’t all be hard work, however, as there is
Б’Art presents Izumi Sakamato welcome.
entertainment for volunteers in the form of song
Japanese Art Exhibition
contests, felt-making displays, folklore shows and
In addition to Mr Sakamato’s work, centred on 23rd - 25th July
changes in Japanese art since 1300 AD, there will Bishkek to Altyn Arashan a bonfire. For booking Tel. +996 (0)312 443331
be an exhibition of Japanese culture, dance and Parallel three day trip to the Altyn Arashan gorge. Mob. +996 (0)772 542543 email reservation@
drumming. Departure from Bishkek is on Friday evening. cbtkyrgyzstan.kg or visit the Community Based
Б’Art building, Karasaeva 1 Overnight stop in the tent camp at the TUK tour Tourism office at 58 Gorky Street.
bishkekartcentre@gmail.com base, Karakol. Depart from Karakol to the Al-
Tel: 53 17 85 tyn Arashan gorge on Saturday morning. Hike
to mountain lakes in the Keldike gorge. Possi- Live updates
25th July ble visit to hot springs. Overnight stop in a tent
Puss in Boots camp. Hike to the Ak Syy gorge before returning For all the Bishkek opera, ballet and concert listings,
Fairy tale, starts in the afternoon to Bishkek. check our frequently updated What’s On listings at:
Russian Drama Theatre www.thespektator.co.uk
Tel: 66 20 32 Typical Prices for one day equipment hire
Tent sleeping 2-3 people: 160 soms
25th July Thermal Sleeping bag 100 soms Spektral Travel
Russians made up love Skis: 500 soms
Romantic Comedy in Russian Cross-country skis: 300 soms With Issyk Kul warming up and Song Kul warming over,
Russian Drama Theatre Coats: from 50 soms this month’s travel trip is to make for the lakes. For Tom
Tel: 66 20 32 Pans and Teapots: 30 soms Wellings’ highly readable guide to Issyk Kul check out
issue five of the Spektator or request a back issue: editor@
Please note, the Opera Ballet Theatre has now Groups meet the Thursday before the weekend of thespektator.co.uk. Trips to Song Kul can be organized via
closed for its traditional summer vacation. It will departure. Call (0312) 906 115 or email us at trek@ Kochkor CBT. Ring Myrza, who speaks good English, on
begin its schedule again in early autumn. elcat.kg. Website: www.trek-kyrgyzstan.com 0777718334. A seat in a taxi to Kochkor costs 300 soms.

Trekking Union of Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyz Republic, Bishkek, Chui av. 4A, Office A4
Tel.: +996 (312) 90 61 15, 90 61 39
e-mail: trek@elcat.kg,
website: www.trek-kyrgyzstan.com, www.tuk.kg

Map: Location guide 7. Beta Stores Supermarket 14. New York Pizza 21. Stary Edgars
1. Tequila Blues 8. Derevyashka 15. Cowboy 22. TSUM Department Store
2. Metro Bar (American Pub) 9. Cyclone 16. National Museum 23. Jam
3. Watari 10. Coffee House (II) 17. Navigator 24. Mimino
4. Zaporyzhian Nights 11. Adriatico 18. Sky Bar 25. Arabica
5. Coffe House (I) 12. Santa Maria 19. Foyer 26. Konak
6. 2x2 Bar 13. Faiza 20. Fatboy’s 27. VEFA shopping Centre

July 2010 The Spektator www.thespektator.co.uk

Related Interests