Awkward or Amazing
As usual, a bit of both.
Where is this Osh Bazaar?
Not just a question posed to introduce you to my new find, but also a question I asked myself repeatedly today as I trotted along Chuy avenue – Bishkek’s main road. Let’s take a few steps back. Osh Bazaar is in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. While Kyrgyzstan is renowned for its natural beauty, the same can not be said for Bishkek. The city has a few redeeming green park areas, but its bland buildings, overwhelming flatness and pot-holed sidewalks are quite uninspiring.
On my first day here, I walked about the gardens with a soft serve ice cream, trying to find the eight sites on Lonely Planet’s list. After I managed to find and correctly identify a few, I decided to head off to Osh Bazaar for a typical Central Asian shopping experience and to perhaps get a bite of street food. It didn’t seem too far on the map, but then again I have been known to walk across cities thinking the same. I walked and walked and walked for what seemed like forever, stopping every now and again to decipher Cyrillic street names just to find out that it was still several blocks away.
Osh Bazaar and what I found there
When I finally spotted the grey gate with big red Cyrillic letters I knew it would be worth it. I usually don’t take “beware of pickpockets” tips very seriously, but this time I was a little weary – perhaps because warnings about the infamous Narantuul “black” market in Ulaan Bataar were still ringing in my ears after so many years.
I snapped a quick picture of the main gates and then shopped in wonder, stopping here and there to take a stealthy picture. They literally sell everything at Osh Bazaar (except for the travel towel that I so desperately needed). Jeans, lingerie, vegetables, spices, linoleum, horse saddles, army boots, dried goods, shampoo, fruits, breads, shoes, eggs and raw meat of all kinds, including chicken.
I bought a fold-over pastry from an old woman for lunch. As I left the market, I started picking at the dough. It was delicious. Yet, the thought of the raw chicken sold close by made me feel a little uneasy about the filling. After gingerly taking a bite (yum), I decided that it wasn’t worth it to risk food poisoning. With great sadness I tossed it.
Luckily pastries are not just sold at Osh Bazaar. I walked past a food stand with pastries on my way to the Bishkek CBT office (Community-based Tourism). I bought a similar pastry and ate it with gusto, completely ignoring the possibility that the meat for this one may have been bought at Osh Bazaar.
Life List Entry: Avoided food poisoning at a Kyrgyz bazaar