The capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek’s name is the Kyrgyz word for the stick used to mix the ingredients of the national drink kymys, a combination of fermented mare’s milk and mountain herbs.
True to its name, Bishkek is a heady swirl of ethnicities, cultures and religions – Christian Russians living side-by-side with Muslim Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, as well as a host of other ethnic groups like Dungans (Chinese), Koreans and Germans.
Originally named for the Bolshevik revolutionary Mikhail Frunze, during the twentieth century Bishkek was a showcase city for the Soviet Union’s most experimental artists and architects – as well as an important hub for the Soviet space industry.
Visitors invariably leave this city with memories of verdant boulevards, looming mountains the shape of enormous marble pyramids, bizarre science-fictional architecture, frenetic car traffic (oh boy!) and a mélange of lifestyles.