It won't surprise you when I say that Kyrgyzstan is not remotely like Europe. It is a curious mixture of Asian, Turkish and Russian cultures. There are many beautiful, unique, exciting aspects to this country, and I hope I've given you a glimpse of those. But most decidedly, Kyrgyzstan does not smack of Europe, not even a little bit - except in one respect: the countryside. It has mountainous vistas to rival Switzerland. I once spent time in the mountains near Bern, and was reminded of them on a recent trip through the foothills of the mountains near Bishkek. These aren't the glorious Tian Shan mountains (at least, I don't think they are! Pretty sure they're to the North of Bishkek; these are to the South) but they sure are beautiful, fitted out with waterfalls and fir trees and snow caps. Now that Spring is here, these mountains will be green and covered in wildflowers in a few months - I'm impatient to see it!
Believe me, you're going to see these mountains again when I visit them in Summer. And in Autumn. Numerous times. They're only an hour out of the city, which means they are a perfect day trip away, and there are plenty of excellent picnic spots.
Plenty has been happening in addition to mountains. I had a birthday today, and celebrated by having a nice dinner with friends and going to a very good concert by the Kyrgyz national chamber orchestra. I must confess, however, to feeling rather flat. None of the expected parcels have arrived, which means they'll most likely start trickling in this week - but I would have liked them better today. I also felt the absence of my friends and family quite keenly, although my new friends are very lovely and kind and caring. Consequently, due to feeling sort of blue and self-pitying (which will pass by tomorrow morning) I'm not terribly motivated to write.