My second week in Bishkek is done. During the day, I have been exploring on foot. Sometimes high-school girls hoping to practice their English stop me to chat. They often tell me that it is their dream to go to the USA. Without Dan to keep me amused during the day, I have had to depend on myself to stay amused.
Here are some photos of restaurant signs that have caught my eye.
The now closed Oki Doki (ОКИ ДОКИ) Cafe
I have scoured most every street in the Bishkek downtown area trawling for shops selling traditional arts. There are some very good shops here, but at this point, I'm feeling satiated. We are at the stage in life when we should be down sizing not accumulating.
I have watched the changing of the guard at the flag in front of the History Museum. The two soldiers in the glass cases look like toy soldiers from a distance.
The changing happens every hour from sunrise to sunset.
I visited the History Museum skipping the permanent Lenin adoration installation to go directly to the ethnographic floor with its lovely textiles. I also explored the Museum of Contemporary Art and saw a drawing of an award winning chandelier called the "Wedding Veil" designed for the Wedding Palace.
I wanted to see this chandelier, so I found the Wedding Palace AKA Temple of Love. During the soviet years, marriage within a religious establishment was not allowed so this Wedding Palace was built. This is a state-run Temple of Love for marriages. Marriages are a big deal here. The street in front of the Wedding Palace is lined with all makes and permutations of stretch limos.
A carpeted staircase and round entrance reminiscent of a Tunnel of Love amusement park ride, leads to one of the rooms in which marriages are performed. The room with the stained-glass window is where the "wedding veil" chandelier hangs. Unfortunately, only a few of the light bulbs were on when I was there. I think for the best view, one must be laying in the center of the floor under the chandelier, but that area was off limits to everyone except the bride and groom. When I arrived, a marriage had just ended. Guests descend from side staircases while the bride, groom, best man/woman, and parents descend down the central staircase. Photos and videos document every step, every second of the day. The groom is wearing the traditional Kyrgyz felt wool hat.
At the WWII monument (in the shape of a yurt), the couples will be photographed laying flowers at the eternal flame. They will sip champagne, release more doves, and pose.
The long day will end with a fabulous dinner and party.
The weather has continued to be comfortably warm. These two ladies were enjoying a chat in the sun. They are sitting in front of Parliament and the memorials to those who died in the 2010 revolution.
I've also spent some of my very free time working on photographs and playing with filters. I took this one last weekend. It is of a mosque under construction. When finished, it will be the largest mosque in Central Asia replacing the current largest Central Asia mosque that is in Kazakhstan. This one is being funded by the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs and is being built in the shape of Istanbul's Hagia Sofia. The expected completion date is 2015.
In 2012, Kyrgyzstan banned casinos and slot machines citing the social issues caused by gambling. They closed them without regard to casino employees who would suddenly become unemployed. The effect of this ban was to reduce revenue to the state and drive all gambling operators underground--like our alcohol prohibition. This is a former casino now in a derelict condition.
Today, is Dan's last day of work. Tomorrow, we are going on a hiking trip near Issyk-Kul. We will return to Bishkek on September 29 just in time to repack for our Uzbek vacation.