Having spent 4 days here in Bishkek at the Sakura Guesthouse I have fast learned that this seems to be the place where cycle tourists, motorcyclists and backpackers alike come to vanish into the vortex that is the Central Asian Visa process.
So far I have met a couple from Spain that have been cycling around South-East Asia and are now on the same route to Europe as us.
A British motorcyclist named Jim whom I had the pleasure of hanging out with while he too applied for a Kazak visa. He was fortunate to get his in today and has temporarily escaped the vortex for a few days around one of the lakes here.
One of my favorite quotes from chats with Jim was
“The sharpest minds are quickly dulled here in Bishkek”
Leon, a British lad, who as it turns out was also a teacher in South Korea. He started cycling last October through various countries in South-East Asia but had been sucked in to the vortex for the last month trying to get the visas he needed. He too is now heading a route similar to us through the elusive Stans.
Leon holding up a pair of underwear weathered by his cycling
Peter, an older German cycle tourist had many interesting stories to tell and also had a plethora of information that has helped make our lives in Kyrgyzstan much easier. He was also a Chef in New Zealand on Great Barrier Island. As it turns out he is also heading along the same route as us with a detour to Tajikistan first.
There was a young French couple here on the first few days. They were planning on buying a donkey, yes that’s right, a donkey. They plan on walking all around Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan before heading on to Iran and Turkey.
The Sakura Guesthouse is definitely a place for visa refugees and worth staying at but be careful not to get sucked into the vortex. At least today (July 7th) Tom, Katie and I were able to submit our visas for Kazakhstan entry visa #2 moving closer and closer to that home cooked meal in Ireland.