The Kyrgyz embassy was the first on the list. So after breakfast, it was a local taxi to the embassy at 10am – the opening time for visa applications according to the embassy website. After waiting outside the front gate with the security guard for 30min I, along with three others, was allowed in to the embassy where we were greeted very hospitably by the Kyrgyz ambassador himself. Only to be told that visa hours were from 3-5pm due to the power blackouts. However, the ambassador very graciously talked us through the process and how to make the payment of US$55 at the correct branch of the correct bank and told us to come back at 3pm. So at 3pm we all returned to the embassy where we treated like old friends while the ambassador regaled us with stories of Kyrgyz culture (yes, we are Muslim but we like wodka even more), what it was like growing up under the Soviet Union and what it meant to the Kyrgyz people when the Soviet Union finally collapsed. By 3:30pm we were done and I left with a Kyrgyz visa in my hand and very friendly impression of the Kyrgyz people in my heart.
One visa down, two to go!
One amusing sidelight to this encounter with the amabassador was the confusion over nationalities. The three other guys had got together for a adrenalin-junkie, mountain-climbing/hang-gliding/trekking adventure holiday in Central Asia. One guy was Polish and the other two were Austrian.
The ambassador: Are you all Austrian?
Me: No, I’m Australian.
The ambassador: So, you’re all Australian?
The two Austrians: No, we’re Austrian.
The ambassador, to Polish guy: And you’re Austrian also?
Polish guy: I’m not, I’m Polish.
It sounded like a cross between Monty Python and Borat. But, I guess you had to be there. Which reminded me of an old joke.
Two Austrians were walking down the street and bumped into a Pole. Scheiße!