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Published: August 20th 2015
Since leaving Turpan a couple of weeks ago the journey rather than the destination has been the centre of attention, this was the story again with our shared taxi from Osh to Bishkek.
In Kyrgyzstan every car is a taxi and every driver a taxi driver, but some are more official (in the very loosest sense of the word) than others, the shared taxis are one of those. The way it works is that you show up at a well known place - road junction, car park, outside a bus station etc, where there will be a bunch of guys shouting their destination. Negotiate a price, jump in and...wait, they will never go until they have a (very) full car. Our fellow passengers were an ethnic Uzbek Kyrgyz lady who lived in Portugal, a middle aged Kyrgyz guy who smelled like a distillery, and the local equivalent of a redneck. It goes without saying that the first of many stops was only a few minutes after we started out. It turned out the redneck wasn't actually travelling with us, he was a place holder for his wife and daughter who we went to pick up from his house. After some
shuffling around of seats - we think to ensure she was sitting next to a woman not a man we were off again with three adults, including Atsuko and I, and one child tightly packed into the middle row of seats of a very small Opel people carrier. At least we were slightly more comfortable than Distillery Man who was sharing the back seat with assorted items of baggage, parcels, and general crap. Over the next 14 hours !!! we stopped countless times for the little girl - who drank litre upon litre of Fanta and Coke - to pee, poo and puke, Distillery Man to do the same - but always at a different time to the little girl, DM to share some Kyrgyz hospitality by buying melon and raspberries (from different places of course) for everybody, and the driver get stopped for speeding. After one last snafu when the driver missed a parcel drop off by about 5km and had to backtrack we eventually make it to Bishkek, exhausted. The compensation was the simply stunning scenery we drove through, Kyrgyzstan is without doubt one of the most dramatically beautiful countries we've been to, That and the friendliness of
The little girl was one of our fellow passengers.
the people help to transform problems into experiences.
As a somewhat sad postscript we found out during the journey that the mother of the little girl was only 20 years old and had been married at just 15, we hope the same fate doesn't await her lovely little daughter.
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