Friendly advice from a Kyrgyzstanian
Guys u are great! Whoever have left their comments here, its so nice of you not to leave all sorts of nasty comments here, as i would have done , if i traveled abroad and some nasty douchebag cops would have stopped me and demanded a bribe, or i would have been robbed and tied up by dumb ass criminals :( It's sad, but some people from Kyrgyzstan think all foreigners are mad rich and those people help tourists to get rid of such "burden" as money, wallet, and documents.... It's not all that bad though... I am myself from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. And it's a great city with friendly people and great places to go :) It might not seem like that the first time u are there, people don't tend to smile a lot and might even push u out of the way if they are in a hurry.... Our people's friendliness is shown to guests and friends, and if u happen to befriend a local, they will treat u with respect and hospitality. Just be cautious and don't walk around alone at night. Call a cab if u going somewhere late, cab fares are not expensive at all.
When dining at a restaurant, don't be shy to raise a hand and call for waiter's attention. Service might seem a little rude, but it's due to cultural difference between Bishkek and the Western world. Waiters are often reserved and don't smile, but will do everything u ask for, and, yes, will add a 10-15 % service charge.... my advice would be - TIP a server, with the prices for food, it's not a lot, after all you are all used to tip at least 20 % :) an extra dollar or two for a waiter's hard work will definitely make their day!
If u are talking to a woman, be ready that she will expect u to take care of the tap... Partially, that's because some women might try to get the money out of u, or just hang out with u for the free entertainment, like restaurants, bars and night clubs... However, even women of class, expect a man to pay for the bill, because that's just how it is in Eastern culture, men ALWAYS pay :) Once u go Dutch with a woman, u make an impression of urself as a greedy person, and most likely u won't have a chance to see the same woman again... Even if u take the responsibility for the financial part of the date, that doesn't mean u will be granted.... er.... sex... Kyrgyz women don't usually sleep around, however, i cant vouch for all of them... Let's say a respected woman might go out with u and talk to u, but that doesn't necessarily mean she is planning to sleep with u... It's sort of like how it was in the United States in 1920-30s when a man would take a woman out and pay for entertainment, while a woman provided a man with her lovely company :) Old-fashioned, but that's how things are.... Im just trying to warn y'all so that Kyrgyz girls don't get a bad reputation in your eyes :) I don't recall myself ever paying for the bill on a date, unless i was going out with long time friends. I repeat, that doesn't mean i was after anybody's money, it's just the custom of the country. So if u don't have a lot of money, take a girl to a walk in a park and get ice-cream :)
Well, if u are not planning on staying in Bishkek for a long time, and not planning to get in a relationship of any kind, ignore the information above :) Just be cautious and don't walk alone at night. Don't argue with police, they might beat u and handcuff u and take u to a police station, where u won't be able to prove anything until u give them what they want. Locals get mistreated by police, too, so don't take anything personally :) Enjoy our bars and restaurants, enjoy dancing in a club till 5 in the morning and 24-hour pizza delivery :) Enjoy the clean air and tasty food, avoid mean looking young thugs and keep an eye on ur pockets while being in crowded places. they will pick ur pockets really quick if u r not careful :) I hope u enjoy urself in Bishkek!!!!
DO NOT TIP TWICE ! AND BE NICE
This is actually 2 useful tips in one to help you (so don’t forget to rate kindly). Most of the top restaurants in Bishkek have a mandatory SERVICE CHARGE. You will see this on at least the first page of the menu. Most have it on every page and some have it sporadically across a few pages. When in doubt – ask. The charges are between 10-15%. So DO NOT TIP. You already have. Several times I had staff giving me long looks when they brought my change. Don’t do it. You have already paid for their services. If the restaurant doesn’t pass all or part of it to the staff – why should you pay twice?
You also will be charged for live music in several restaurants – its 100 Som.
Now the big secret of service in Bishkek restaurants!
The staff are shy. I see restaurant review after review on many websites where people cite ‘rude’ or being ‘ignored’ by their waiter or waitress. Actually they are just reserved. This is a former part of the USSR and they don’t fully have the sort of outlook you are going to see in a North American restaurant. To set the tone, you just need to speak nicely to them when you sit down. Don’t be afraid to gently wave or actually get up and walk over to them. They are friendly and will be as friendly as you are. I found whenever I did gently wave they came to me instantly and whenever I ordered a beer it appeared very quickly. If they don't see you, just cheerfully say 'Hello' and this also works. I also found many times that when I did wave, any local people in the place would shout to the staff that I was waving. So be polite and you will get great service. If you do find yourself in a really packed restaurant, you can always ask to sit in the bar until it’s a bit quieter. I was here during weekdays and I found that there were often more staff than customers. Nothing was a problem in any bar or restaurant. Speaking of bars, you are best to park it right at the bar itself or walk back and forth for orders. They usually have less staff.
So just remember, the staff often think you want to be left alone until you indicate otherwise. So practice that polite wave!
- Food and Dining
- Family Travel
- Work Abroad
I'm here 6 hours and I already need to update the times on my homepage I have been detained or arrested. Yes, both of my travel guides say the Police may try and stop you seaching for 'drugs' and want to insspect your money. No one said it would be 6 of the bstards jumping out of 2 parked cars in the dark and wedging me between the 2. They were just interested in seeing my wallet and money. I never showed them. I talked slow and stupid. I also did NOT have my passport with me. I had a good photocopy though.
DO NOT CARRY YOUR PASSPORT! Leave it at the hotel. Legallly you should have it and they have the right to see it. They were acting illegally so - they can go to hell.
They have no right to search pockets. Just get out your guidebook and mobile phone and calmly explain you are ringing your embassy. Softly and slowly does it. They get bored after 10 minutes.
- Business Travel
- Road Trip
Be careful with some hotels
I never thought I'd be issuing this tip, but I'd suggest only going to "international" hotels in this city. I checked into a fairly upmarket hotel opposite the Russian Embassy, where the staff didn't speak much English, and most of the folk there were from Central Asia. Nothing unusual about that.
Whilst I slept, two young Russians opened my hotel room door, came in, demanded money, and then tided me up, while they ransacked the room, and stole a number of my belongings (including my trousers and shoes!).
The police reckoned the hotel staff tipped off the gangsters that foreigners were staying there, and gave them the key to the room.
Keep the key to your room door in the lock - makes it more difficult to open from the outside.
Dirty Cops - An Unfortunate Reality in Bishkek
Be careful walking around Bishkek at night. While street crime is on the rise, you are more likely to be hassled by police officers aggressively asking for bribes. The cops in Bishkek are notorious for this, but you can avoid being a victim by taking the following steps:
Don't walk around with your passport,
Be polite (but stern),
Don't be fall pray to their threats of taking you down to the station, and
By all means, do not bribe them! Such acts fuel their behavior and perpetuates the idea that tourists are easy targets.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
On night walks take light!
When I was in Bishkek in 2004 it was very dangerous to walk in the streets at night without a torch/light. Sometimes there are big holes on the path you dont see. Even in the day I had to watch my steps all the time to not break my legs!
- Study Abroad
Beware of the toilets
Remember that all toilets does not keep normal western standard.
It is no bad idea to bring some packs of kleenex or a roll of toilet paper.
- Budget Travel
They tend to look for tourists for 'routine search'. You can see many policemen around the Tsum department store.
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