Osh: Coffee, the Bazaar, and Solomon
2 September, 2008, 02:19 pm in "Kyrgyzstan"
Osh has a huge bazaar which sprawls from the old bus station up 2 sides of the street and 2 sides of the river, bulging out into a large covered area of vegetable sellers than narrowing into passages lined with clothing.
It is a chaotic patchwork of different types of shopping areas.
Towards the top we found a blacksmith's shop next to the river with a little area of space around it as if it had been there forever and the bazaar just grew around it.
Above that was a block of curtain sellers and below were sellers of the colorful patterned velvets popular with Uzbek women. A warehouse space was filled with "modern" fashions popular with teenagers. Several large areas had giant carpets defining the space of the seller. We did not, however, find ceramics craftsmen's stalls, though we did find someone selling hand-made wooden cradles.
The type that would look great in a yurt. Having our fill of the bazaar, we tried to find an Internet cafe that worked. For some reason many of them don't let you send e-mail! I guess people here just use the Internet to play games.
We walked across a bridge over the river and circled back north. We noticed a street which seemed a slight bit more modern than some of the other streets. Then Rowshan noticed a sign reading "California Cafe." Almost jokingly, he said "Let's see if they have coffee". So we walked up and saw they had a menu posted outside--which in itself was unusual. In the drinks section I saw "Natural boiled coffee." "That must mean regular coffee!" I said. "And they have Nescafe underneath!" (meaning that they acknowledge that Nescafe is different from regular coffee). A passerby pointed out the English menu on the other side of the column and sure enough they had "Freshly Brewed Coffee". We walked inside, confirmed that they had it and ordered. Looking over the menu I saw salads named after stars, various pizzas and pastas, as well as some dishes like fajitas. We decided to get lunch. It was nice to get a vegi filled meal, especially since we've been eating so much laghman lately (we've determined it is actually cheaper than self-catering) which is good but gets repetitive. The cafe was a nice small wooden floored room with light wood furniture and trim. The walls were adorned with old Californalia-- a map of route 66, photos of the Hollywood sign and Golden Gate Bridge. Each table even had a little "no smoking sign" above it (and the bathroom has a sign saying "No smoking in here either!"). They even had some weird CA pizzas like one with smoked chicken (called Napa Valley). So we got our coffee fix and vegi food fix. Then we found an Internet cafe where we successfully sent e-mails from. It was like we were transported back into the 21st century! It was now around 5 and we decided it was a good time to visit Osh's sight: Suleyman Too-- Solomon's Throne, a large hill in the middle of the town where Solomon was supposed to have rested.
entrance to solomon's throne
People says it looks like a pregnant woman but the illusion is marred a bit by the cell phone tower which is perched on her belly. We climbed up the hill looking at the smoggy view of the city and hills beyond.
view of solomon's throne
The top of the hill has a small mosque as well as a stone slide.
We followed a path across the hillside and ascended to one of 2 large caves.
Below was a graveyard where each tomb was a mound of dirt giving the area a weird bumpy texture from above.
On the way back from Suleyman Too, we passed some watermelon sellers tossing melons across from a mosque.
man throwing watermelons
Rowshan made friends with some of the Uzbek men outside the mosque and they discussed the problems of Kyrgyz youth today.