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KYRGYZSTAN | FROM OSH TO BISHKEK


Osh is full of history and culture. At over 3000 years old, it is easily the oldest city in Kyrgyzstan, and has been an important center of the Fergana Valley for millennia. Originally an important stop along the Silk Road trade routes from China to Europe, Osh remained relevant in the age of ships as being the area that produced Babur, one of the national heroes of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Babur was born in Andijan, just across the modern border between Uzbekistan and Osh, and founded the Mughal Empire that reigned over India and Afghanistan for several hundred years. In Osh, Babur is particularly remembered for building a small mosque on the summit of Suleiman-Too, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Osh is filled with lush green trees and pleasant fragrant breezes. The city oozes culture and history from its pores, and true Central Asian hospitality fills it with a warm, welcoming energy that is unlike any other major Central Asian city I've been to. The New York Times put it this way: “Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, felt somewhere - as one German traveler put it - that “the inhabitants are happy to live”

How to get around?

Osh is not too difficult to navigate by walking. The city's central district is called Aravanski, which is on the left (west) bank of the Ak-Burra River, and there are two main north-south streets. The westernmost is the Kurmanjan Datka, which moves traffic south, while Lenin moves traffic north. At the north and south ends of Aravanski, bridges cross the Ak-Buura River to Masalieva St, the other major north-south artery on the other side of the river. We rented a car for $100 a day and drove to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan from Osh.


How to get?

The cheapest way to get to Osh is by S7 airlines from Moscow, we paid an incredible R$390.00 from Moscow to Osh, and we were able to make the most of the place before leaving for Kazakhstan. The only difficulty was on arrival, the airport has no structure at all, there are containers without heaters in the terrible cold, there is no separation of foreigners and locals, and the immigration process is endless, it is possible to get a visa at the airport, but it took 4 hours to get it, and we stayed in the guards' little room all that time. And the worst of all is that I knew the cost was $20 per person to issue a visa for 72 hours, and they charged us $100 (pure corruption), but we had no one to turn to and they only spoke Russian, ZERO English.

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What to do?

Osh has the largest remaining statue of Lenin in Central Asia! It is huge! And it's right in front of our city hall for your viewing pleasure. From the central Aravanski district, walk south on Lenin Street until you see Lenin. It is opposite the Osh Flagpole and City Hall, and just beyond is the beautiful Toktogul Park, with our Second World War Memorial and our Chernobyl Memorial.


Toktogul Park

Toktogul Park is a beautiful green oasis south of the Chong Lenin office. It is very large, and a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon with an ice cream and a book watching youngsters. There is a very nice new cafe that has just opened called Green Park which might be a nice place to relax outside.


Ashkana

Located along Kurmanjan Datka Street, south of the old bridge in front of the City Hospital. There are about 10 or 15 tiny hole in the wall cafes here with delicious Uzbek and Kyrgyz home-cooked foods.


Flower bazaar

The main intersection in Aravanski on Kurmanjan Datka Street is often colloquially called “gul bazaar” because there are a bunch of flower shops located together nearby. It's beautiful, cool and very fragrant, especially in summer.


Amusement park

Along the river in Aravanski there is a local amusement park. All the rides are made for kids for the most part, but it's a nice place to visit every now and then for the energy and greenery. At the southern end of the park there is a Ferris wheel and an abandoned Yakovlev Yak-40 regional jet that used to have a cafe inside it.


Osh is famous throughout Kyrgyzstan for its food. Pure and simple, they say they have the best food in Central Asia. And it was from Osh that we took a flight to BishKek where we had the opportunity to see a little more of Kyrgyzstan, we just didn't stay any longer because they arrested us on the way back from Kazakhstan and we were stuck at the border for another 4 hours, and we couldn't actually get back to the Kyrgyzstan, as our visa was a single entry visa so we couldn't enter the country again, a huge hardship when Russian is not spoken in the region.



We had the opportunity to see a wedding rehearsal, and we wasted no time, we joined the party and the Kyrgyz welcomed us with immense joy for a photo with the bride and groom in a beautiful square in the country. Is Kyrgyzstan worth visiting? yes, it's worth it. But they are not prepared to receive tourists, so prepare for trouble.


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