I still remember how excited Farrell and I were when we toured our now-current apartment. Wait, you mean there are apartments in Bishkek that aren’t crumbling? They don’t all smell like that? No drooping wallpaper, working appliances and plumbing, no haze of depression seeping in through unsealed windows? Life was looking up in our humble studio apartment, I thought then.

Last weekend though, I visited not one, but two, gorgeous apartments in luxury high-rises (or… the Bishkek equivalent). High ceilings, tall windows, and spacious balconies with panoramic views of the mountains. Modern, secure, new, shiny, and envy-inducing.

But there are signs all over the city showing that those apartments aren’t typical. I think Bishkek is in a strange state of transition; figuring out how to come off more glamorous and posh while still dealing with crushing poverty and Soviet style concrete-chic. Here are a few pictures from this weekend (on our way to amazing apartment #2) of spaces that have seen better days.