Our big television debut on House Hunters International is tomorrow night, and the amount of press we’re getting for it is just really overwhelming! So I thought I’d write a bit of an introduction to my multitude of new fans!
If you happen to have made it to this page after reading about us in the Daily Sentinel or seeing a piece about us on the local news in Western Colorado, then welcome, and please feel free to email me a copy of the article or something, because I was asleep when it was written and didn’t even know it was happening.
Anyway. Here’s a brief introduction about me, my husband Farrell, and what we’re doing out here in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Farrell grew up in Collbran, CO, eventually making his way to Denver, Egypt, and finally Washington, DC. I grew up near Philadelphia, PA, and moved to Washington, DC for college, where I met Farrell in Arabic class. We ended up working for the same company in DC and were both sent to work in Baghdad at some point (sometimes together, sometimes apart). We liked the work (a lot of research and media analysis) but wanted to branch off to work on our own projects. Despite our love for the Middle East, we felt we couldn’t compete with the big companies already established there, and sought out a place that’s more under the radar.
The decision to move to Kyrgyzstan started out as a search on Wikipedia. We wanted to move to Central Asia (even though we knew nothing about the region) and our research showed that Kyrgyzstan would be the best choice for us. It’s cheap to live here, it’s relatively business-friendly for Americans, and it’s not the most well-known place. We boarded a flight to Bishkek on August 15, 2010 and have lived here ever since.
So what do we do here? We started a company called Oxus International. We conduct social research, surveys, polling, or Farrell’s favorite, quantitative media analysis, which basically means he looks for trends in news reporting and analyzes the data into charts and graphs. I’m a bit wary about how I’m portrayed in the episode, but I swear, Farrell and I both work on the company. Equal partnership is what our marriage is all about, but I definitely got the impression that the director called “CUT!” whenever I mentioned working or doing things other than baking cookies.
I like photography, which seemed like it would be an ongoing theme in the episode. You can see plenty of examples of my photography in posts all around this site, on my Flickr page, on my Pictures of Kyrgyzstan tumblr, or on my travel photography page and fashion photography page. I also teach a photography class at the American University of Central Asia.
So what’s it like to live in Kyrgyzstan? Not too bad. It’s interesting on some days, mundane and normal on others. It’s a different way of life, but it’s nothing incredibly difficult or exotic. It has its positives and negatives, just like any city. We have a rambunctious cat named Mamajan, that’s a positive (sometimes). We got burglarized, that’s a negative. There was an explosion in the city center, negative. The food can be questionable, negative. The landscape is gorgeous, positive. The culture and traditions are new and fascinating to me, positive. There are occasional earthquakes, negative. There are a lot of public holidays, positive and negative. There are awesome-looking, vintage Soviet-era cars everywhere, positive. The people are hospitable and generous and wonderful, and there are plenty of opportunities to get out of the city and visit new places, definitely positive.
If you absolutely love House Hunters International and would like to continue believing that HGTV really flew a film crew halfway around the world to help us buy a house in three days, then fly back several months later just to see how we’re doing, then you can stop reading here. Thank you! I hope you enjoy the episode!
(If you don’t mind the truth, read on)
Truth is, Farrell and I had been living in Bishkek for about nine months when the film crew came out to record the Bishkek portion of the episode. We were living in our third apartment in Bishkek. The first one was an absolute dump that a student at AUCA found for us when we first arrived. The second one was cheaper and nicer than the first, but still a total embarrassment to bring friends to. The third one, the one that appears on the show, was found through word-of-mouth, not a real estate agency. We’re still living here, although the landlady can be difficult to deal with.
Most of the planning for the shoot seemed like it was done spur-of-the-moment. The other two apartments belonged to the “real estate agent” and the local translator hired for the film crew. The prices of all of the apartments were decreased by some amount, more than half in the case of the fancy penthouse. Our apartment came fully furnished, but it was all removed to make it look different from the “three months later” segment (which was filmed before the part where we’re “shown” the apartment “for the first time”). So no, we did not pick out that furniture.
The weirdest part of filming the show was how disorganized it was and how awkward I felt trying to act like I was in Kyrgyzstan for the first time. After nine months I had grown pretty comfortable living here and had mostly forgotten all of my fears and concerns about moving to Kyrgyzstan in the first place. So if I come off as a bit spacey on the show, that’s why.
Oh, and then there was the DC portion, which was filmed after the Bishkek portion. Farrell was supposed to fly back with me, but the production company couldn’t afford to send us both back. My love of baking was the big theme of the DC shoot, and it’s true, I love baking, but I still have nightmares about being directed to eat more and more cake and act more and more excited about how delicious it was. (I’m still hoping that scene doesn’t make it in the final episode.)
When the whole thing was still fresh in my mind (and I was, perhaps, a bit more cynical about the whole thing), I wrote a series of posts about the experience that you can find here, here and here. If you want to read about how this whole crazy ordeal started in the first place, check out our casting video here.
Thanks for reading!