FAQ

What do you do?
I used to run a research company in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan with my husband, see this post for more info about that. We moved away from Bishkek in August 2013 and as of October 2013 we live in Ghent, Belgium. Now I work in the consumer care department of a tech company.

What happened to the business?
It still exists in the capable hands of colleagues in Bishkek.

I’m going to Bishkek!…
Cool!

…and I need an apartment.
In my opinion, it’s tough to find an apartment without being there and without decent Russian skills. Here’s a post I wrote with tips for finding a place to live in Bishkek.

…and I’d like to start a business.
Good luck! There’s a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork involved, and my best advice is to hire a lawyer in Bishkek to navigate those waters for you. I have to admit, I have never received a question regarding opening a business in Kyrgyzstan that I have felt comfortable answering.

…and I’m trying to find a job.
Again, good luck! I created my job in Bishkek, and it was a long and difficult process. I know some people who moved here and immediately found jobs they loved, who immediately found jobs they hated, who found jobs after several months or more than a year, or who are still unemployed and desperately seeking out positions. There’s no real formula. From what I can tell, the big international agencies usually hire from outside the country, and most projects are winding down or are already finished, so there are much fewer jobs than there were a few years ago. Teaching English is always an option, but it doesn’t pay that well. Unpaid internships and volunteer positions are probably also easy to get if you really just want the experience.

…and I’d like to eat and shop.
Check out my map of notable places in Bishkek, which includes my favorite bazaar to buy antique cameras (Orto Sai), where to get the best ice cream (Fresco) and coffee (Sierra), and tons of good restaurants.

Have I seen you on TV?
Probably! My husband and I were featured on an episode of House Hunters International in 2011. Read about it here or watch the episode here.

I found your blog looking for Harvey Wager’s (the real estate agent from the HHI episode) contact info, but can’t find it anywhere. Do you have it?
Harvey Wager is a real person, but he’s not a real estate agent.

What’s the internet like in Bishkek?
Bishkek providers have a wide range of speed and data plans. You can buy super-limited, slow internet for pennies an hour, you can get super-fast, unlimited internet for thousands of dollars a month, or anything in between. Personally, the plan I had cost 900 som per month and included decent speeds (Skype calls without video, sometimes streaming video) and unlimited data (Megaline, if you’re curious).

What’s the food like in Bishkek?
Kyrgyzstan’s national cuisine is heavy on meat and potatoes and emphasizes ease and heartiness over flavor (in my opinion, but I do love some dishes). If national cuisine isn’t your thing, Bishkek has a lot of options, offering Turkish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, American, Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Lebanese, Italian and Indian restaurants (I’m probably forgetting something). I’ve found that I can find most of the necessary ingredients to make whatever I feel like cooking, though it can sometimes take a bit of determined hunting to know which stores stock which items. With that being said, some things that are common to you back home are still unusual fare here and will cost more, like the $4 I once spent on a can of imported coconut milk or the $10 mangoes I’ve heard are sometimes sold in Issyk Kul. And yes, the amount of fresh produce plummets in winter (and the price of what’s left drastically increases). But things are looking up and new shops/restaurants/etc are always opening up, offering either new products and dishes or at least creating some solid competition to bring down prices. Check out my map of Bishkek for specific recommendations of restaurants and stores.

Is it safe in Kyrgyzstan?
Yes, I think it is, with a small caveat. I’ve known a decent amount of friends who have been beaten up, some requiring lengthy hospital stays. Most of the incidents I hear of happen in the middle of the night, when a person is either drunk, alone, or both (but not all cases, there’s some plain bad luck). My rule is to avoid walking by myself at night and to use licensed taxi companies to go through unfamiliar or sketchy areas at night. In general though, it’s not such a bad place.

Isn’t this a food blog?
It used to be. All of the recipes are still in the archives.

I like your photos! Can I use them for something?
Thanks! The answer is probably yes, but please ask first. If the use is non-commercial then I’m sure I’ll be okay with it. If you have any interest in using my photos for any commercial purposes, then just get in touch! I bet we can work something out.

I have another question about living in/working in/moving to/traveling in Kyrgyzstan.
You can email me at kirstin{at}ivorypomegranate{dot}com or check out some articles I wrote for Expat Arrivals.

I have a question about Ghent.
I’ve only been here for a few months so I probably can’t help you much yet.

I sent you a Facebook message and you didn’t respond, why?
My Facebook is private, personal and non-blog related. Also, Facebook filters out the messages from non-friends to a hidden folder that I almost never check and that I don’t receive notifications for. If you’d like to get in contact with me, then send me an email.

You’re not being helpful enough/I don’t like your response/You’re taking too long to respond to my email/etc.
Blame this guy. scaled_6211