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Update: Sun 20:40

A moment of inspiration struck me today repeatedly about the chops like a kipper. Instead of dozing in the room staring at the ceiling why don't I listen to the 1445 songs I have on my iPhone? I know! Amazing, isn't it? I've been on the road all this time and not listened to a single piece of music despite it being readily available in my pocket all along. I never claimed to be the sharpest tool in the box...

Speaking of not very bright, the woman who runs the place (or gives the impression of running the place) marched up to my door last night and managed, "!" Oh, OK. She doesn't seem to trust me much demanding payment in advance (which I now calculate is $30 per night -- and arguably more as the manually updated exchange rates around town are manually updated several times a day and not in the dollar's favour). I trotted into reception after her and readied my 4000Som to pay the 3900Som bill (3 x 1300Som for Saturday, Sunday and Monday -- I've not told her I'm likely to be here until Thursday). She rattled off 3750Som on the calculator (one of the most common universal translators for the traveler) which I would have questioned but realised the futility of it. So I assumed she was giving me a 50Som discount per day for being a long term guest. Top!

Not long after she sent the cook/housekeeper woman (who has the sort of sing-song voice that makes you think she's quite simple) out with a note something along the lines of "Sorry something 150Som something breakfast 300Som." What? I went back in and was none the wiser as to the following conversation other than that when I handed back the 150Som discount she seemed quite happy.

Breakfast was at the appointed hour today albeit back to fried eggs. The struggle to eat them (and the two fried frankfurters that are the hot part of breakfast) reminds me of the first twelve weeks I spent contracting in 1999 in Crawley. Unsure as to the ways of the world I spent those first twelve weeks in various B&Bs dotted around Sussex (or wherever Crawley is). For all but one week (where bizarrely breakfast was "laid on" in a fridge in the room the night before) I had a full English breakfast. It was my main meal of the day but fried eggs at breakfast several days running has left a lasting impression.

The Metro last night was a bit odd. It was a big hall, much like a old city centre pub and at the time I went in there was maybe a dozen expats loitering around the bar. I ordered a pizza and sat on the other side of the room to observe the general goings on. As it happened Metro wasn't one of the bars the LP noted as being home to sex workers but I think I rather unfairly had my suspisions about some of the ladies. I thought the pizza was quite expensive until it turned up. A 12 inch jobbie. Good for two people. Whilst munching away I noticed the second TV playing a lot of Western military scenes with the address popping up (American Forces Network, to save you the bother). Then I noticed that most of the men, whilst perhaps not in combat ready fitness did have regulation haircuts.

So, some sort of forces hangout and yet it never really got any busier than that. Several of the men leaving and a few groups of women coming in yet staying surprisingly modestly apart. Odd. The Americans are based at Manas airport (30km away) so maybe they don't get into town too often (even on a Saturday night).

Anything else to report? Not really. I didn't see the little girl today outside her family's shop where she can't help herself giggling as she falls in line behind me and tries to match my (funny) walk for 20m or so.

I suppose I should take an interest in Bishkek itself but, frankly, meh. It's a town (city) and it has stuff. What might be interesting as a general observation is that it is completely different to the rest of Kyrgyzstan. Big state buildings, wide boulevards (with pavements), fountains (with a son et lumiere show at 9pm, I'm told), decent restaurants serving a range of foods, lots of shops with fashion gear. I've not seen anything like it in the rest of KGZ so maybe the throngs of people every night at the fountains (with canny "professional" photographers to take their picture) really are coming to see where the streets are paved with gold (or at least where their tax Som go).

Speaking of the French, there are a lot of them about. The guest house now has quite a few people in (who must wonder what I'm doing spending most of the day snoozing on my bed -- whilst studying Russian, of course) and French seems to be spoken more than anything else. The French have been all over Central Asia and China. Where are the Brits? Not that I actually want to meet any of them, I just want to know where they are. Getting pissed in Majorca?

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