Today marks the start of a new adventure! I’m on my way to Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic for a month-long position with the University of Central Asia, where I’ll be working as an English-immersion counsellor at their summer upgrading camp. While I’ve been to East and South-East Asia, and other post-Soviet countries in Eurasia, this is my first time to Central Asia and the Steppes, and I’m so excited to be here!
Today has already been the longest travel day. I can’t even really tell what day it is. I left Ottawa at 9pm on Friday night and got in to Frankfurt at about 10am local time. For a seven hour flight it felt long and I can’t say I got a lot of sleep. But I managed to get coffee and a great view at the Frankfurt airport. The Frankfurt airport is so well organized – it’s the least stressful navigation. Plus they had Paprika Pringles, my all-time favourite snack not available in Canada.
After Frankfurt I headed to Istanbul for another 3 hour layover before making the final trek to Bishkek. All my flights were on time so the travel day wasn’t too stressful – just long. That last five hour flight to Bishkek almost did me in, and that was before I knew what was coming in Kyrgyzstan. The plan was to be met at the airport in Bishkek by a driver who would transfer me and one other counsellor to the city before the final five hour drive to Naryn. There seems to have been a bit of a mixup, though, and we haven’t been able to connect with anyone.
Our driver is three hours late at this point, which to be fair would be a lot worse at a different airport. We have comfortable seats and have managed to stave off the swarms of taxi drivers, all of whom have has pretty fun senses of humour and have said we were forgotten and should give up and take a cab. Apparently this is a pretty common occurrence here for planned rides to fall through.
It’s the kind of airport that looks like it’s under construction, but more realistically the construction has been abandoned a few months ago and the leftover scaffolding is starting to sag and show off the unfinished roof. It’s one of those places where if you sit for too long without moving the flies start to collect all over your body. It only takes a bit of a nudge to get them moving again, but constantly moving to beat the flies has gotten old in the third hour of waiting.
There’s very little English here, other than the handful of taxi drivers who have enough vocab to let us know that no one’s coming for us. A few other hopefuls have asked “Ruski?”, I guess because of the blonde hair, and I can’t say if it’s me or them that’s more disappointed by my “no”.
At this point we’ve been able to get in touch with the school and have been informed we’ll be picked up in another hour when another counsellor arrives which means we’ll all be able to drive to Naryn together. After a crazy few hours things are looking up! We’ll be at campus soon!