How to survive a Bishkek winter power-outage

Temperatures have dropped again in Bishkek, another sign that winter is most definitely sticking around, despite certain predictions that Kyrgyzstan wouldn’t get a winter this year. With decreasing temperatures, Bishkek residents race to turn up their space heaters, straining the crumbling electrical infrastructure. This means more power outages and rolling black-outs.

Here are my tips to get through the dark, cold evenings:

A good attitude. Power-outages can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours (or, if you live in the suburbs, a few days). And yes, your neighbors across the street might still have electricity. It’s certainly not going to get any better if you’re a grump, so enjoy the quiet time while you have it.

Blankets and extra clothing layers to keep warm. The boiler station runs on electricity, so depending on how extensive the outage is, you may have just lost heat as well.
Not recommended: building a bonfire in your house. I’m almost positive your landlord will not approve.

Flashlights or candles and accessories to keep them providing light (matches or extra batteries). While you’re thinking about it at the moment, remember to ask your neighbor to give back your big flashlight they borrowed a few weeks ago.

Something to pass the time. Sure, your laptop and iPad still have power for a few more hours (if you remembered to charge them), but it’s likely that you have no internet (unless you have a Beeline modem). You’ve already won all levels of Angry Birds, anyway. My suggestions: paint your nails, read a real book, or get a cat, which is a constant source of entertainment.

Something you can use to cook food or boil water without the use of electricity. You shouldn’t have to worry much about refrigerated food going bad; if the situation becomes dire, you can always prop up essentials next to a drafty window. But when it comes to preparing something simple and warm to eat or drink, you don’t want to be stuck with only a hot plate and electric kettle. (This is where matches come in handy for a gas stove, and consider stocking up on some instant noodles.)

A wide network of friends. Maybe they know enough Russian to call the electric company and ask when the power will come back. Maybe they have melting ice cream they need help eating. Maybe you have the best flashlight and they have the best selection of board games. Or, maybe they have electricity! In any case, power outages are more fun with friends.

A calendar. Remind yourself that Spring is only… 10 weeks away!

4 replies on “How to survive a Bishkek winter power-outage”

    1. Do you usually get blackouts? I would think somewhere like Seoul has that stuff figured out. The crazy thing is that Kyrgyzstan EXPORTS electricity! They’d rather sell it off than make sure we get enough power 🙁

      and thanks! New year, new blog layout.

  1. You can live in the city, and have power outrages for many days too (for example, I live in Akhunbaeva str. and that was like this in the end of december…) !

    But for sure, I use all your tips, except for the cat because I do not have one here, and except for the nails, because I’m a guy and I prefer to read books 😉

    1. Well, Akhunbaeva is pretty much on the city/suburb border, so the multi-day outages make sense. In the city center they don’t last more than a few hours.

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