I’m a fan of making lists. Whether or not I actually succeed at doing everything that’s on that list, I still find it a useful process for sorting through my thoughts, hopes and dreams for what I’d like to accomplish before I leave Kyrgyzstan.
When will I leave Kyrgyzstan for good? Oh geez. Who knows. I still have a vague idea to leave by the end of August, but so far there’s nothing compelling drawing us out of Bishkek and, at least for now, still several opportunities to keep us here. So we’ll see. I’m not giving up the dream of living somewhere else and shuttling back and forth here a few times a year, but I’m also still keeping the mindset that I will soon be leaving Kyrgyzstan forever so I should figuring the things I would most definitely like to do and see before that happens.
I refuse to call this a “bucket list” because I really despise that phrase. Instead, I’m calling it my “ticket list”, to refer to things I’d like to do before I get my final plane ticket stamped and depart Kyrgyzstan.
You’ll notice that most of the items on the list are things that I want to see and photograph. Some of these I’ve already seen, maybe even several times, but I want beautiful evidence to carry with me to the next chapter of my life.
– Go to Ala Archa (or Ala Medin) when it’s not super bright out, maybe early morning, or even late afternoon into evening for some star trails.
– Photograph the Galactic Marshrutka. I already snapped a few shots to prove its existence, but I would like some close-ups to document the details.
– Photograph the painted trolleys. As part of an arts initiative, three trolleybuses were screen printed with famous artists’ paintings, so now there are Klimt, Dali and (I think?) Picasso trolleys roaming around Bishkek. I’ve seen the Klimt and Dali trolleys and (possibly) photographed them with some of my film cameras, but I won’t know how successful I was until I develop those rolls. I only heard recently that there’s a Picasso one. Then, in addition, there’s a trolley that’s completely covered (purposefully) in graffiti and it’s awesome. From what I can tell, the Klimt and Dali trolley run on Sovietska, and I once spotted the graffiti trolley on Moscovska. Any idea where the Picasso one runs?
– Do some regional travel. My votes are for a (short) trip to Dushanbe or a more extended trip to Mongolia. As much as I would like to hit Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, I’m not going to get my hopes up that I’d be able to accomplish visiting authoritarian police states with a small child.
– Visit Manas Village. Back when I taught photography, one of my students did her final project on this place. From what I can gather, it’s a park with large structures that couples like to go to for wedding photographs, and there’s some sort of overarching theme dedicated to Manas, the epic Kyrgyz hero. It could be a nice place for a picnic.
– Photograph the signs and statues on the outskirts of Bishkek on the way to the airport. If you’ve flown into Bishkek and were conscious for the drive into the city, you have seen the gigantic concrete structures at the edge of town announcing your arrival to Bishkek. I always make a note to stop and look at them more closely and photograph them, but I’m either always rushing to catch a flight or just arriving from a long time spent on an airplane (and the last thing I want to do is stop and delay getting back to my bed).
– Get my picture taken in front of a photo backdrop in Ala-Too Square during a holiday. I always photograph the backdrops, or other people getting their picture taken. It could be a cute/cheesy family portrait idea.
– Visit Almaty and/or Astana. It seems weird that I haven’t been to Almaty except for a few hours in the middle of the night to do a visa run, but if I’m going to Kazakhstan, what I really want to do is photograph the trippy, futuristic architecture in Astana.
– Document Darwin eating a bunch of Kyrgyz dishes and drinks. He turns six months old in June, meaning we get to feed him solid food! Pureed beshbarmak? It’s happening.
– Photograph and map a graffiti tour around Bishkek. Street art seems to be a growing activity here, I see work by these guys every so often.
– Go to the circus. Right now I’ve seen advertisements for an “Africa” themed performance with an elephant and tiger.
– Buy a Sputnik camera. Unfortunately the antique shop that a few people told me to check out didn’t have this camera, but I won’t give up hope yet. I’m also thinking about getting a Fed or Zorki.
– Photograph a giant poppy field in bloom. Twitter friends tell me they bloom in May in such places as Jalalabad or Susamir Valley.
What do you think, too ambitious? Are there any must-see/must-do things that I’ve forgotten about?