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Published: November 11th 2014
One of the most apparent proofs that you have been thrown face first into a different culture is when you attempt to move outside your front door. This is so incredibly true in Kyrgyzstan, it’s almost not true...What? Anyways, no need for philosophical paradoxes, especially when you’re talking about the physical (and mental) nuances of getting around the country of Kyrgyzstan.
So generally, moving around the cities and the countryside of Kyrgyzstan is done in one basic form of machinery: A marshutka. The marshutkas in this country vary in quality from “Wow, this is nice, and the seats have padding” to “I can see the pavement below me”. And while I have no issue in seeing the pavement below me while moving at high speeds (my car, Suzy, in Australia had holes in the floor of both the drivers and passenger seats), it is rather indicative of the overall wellbeing of the contraption.
A marshutka is for all intensive purposes a passenger van. The driver sits on the left hand side, and the front right side door opens to allow people entry. Most local marshutkas have sitting room for around 12 to 16 people, and then standing room for
30. Seriously. Seat belts are obviously not things, and really when you’re on a crowded marshutka, even if the marshutka was to take flight, your body couldn’t move anywhere anyways, that’s how crowded it gets!
Here in Osh I take a few different marshutka routes to get to and from my house, to the bazaar, to my favorite cafes etc. Every route has it’s own characteristics. The 112 for example, always has a ton of students on it. And because the start is near my house, I normally get a seat. The 124 on the other hand starts 5 miles past my house in a small village, and by the time it gets to me, is packed with aje’s (old ladies with legitimate Super Powers), meaning the chance of me breathing easily, much less sitting in a seat, would be a dream in the Kyrgyz dreamland of dreams.
In Osh, marshutka rides are 10som, so about 2 cents. You pay the driver when you get off, and he can give you change if you need it. But do not pay with a 100som note, or gasp, even higher. You might get yelled at. And, if someone visibly older
than you gets on, you give up your seat. It is better to do this voluntarily, because getting pitched by an aje is embarrassing.
Hello everybody, I have moved this blog, and all blogs published after this blog to my new blog www.seehertravel.com
. You can find the rest of this post at http://www.seehertravel.com/marshrutkas-kyrgyz-hovercrafts/
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The content of this blog is purely my own. The opinions and views expressed here do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.
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