x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Good Chinese food and plenty of it in Bishkek

Bishkek is the somewhat sleepy capital of the Kyrgyz Republic. This central Asian city, nevertheless, is a pleasant place to wander around should you find yourself with a few hours to spare between meetings.

Soldiers peform the changing of the guard in front of the National History Museum. Hannibal Hanschke / dpa / Corbis
Soldiers peform the changing of the guard in front of the National History Museum. Hannibal Hanschke / dpa / Corbis

Bishkek is the somewhat sleepy capital of the Kyrgyz Republic. This central Asian city, nevertheless, is a pleasant place to wander around should you find yourself with a few hours to spare between meetings.

Following its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country quickly moved to carry out market reforms and became the first parliamentary democracy in Central Asia.

GDP grew at 8 per cent in 2007 and 2008 but political instability in 2010 caused the economy to contract by 0.5 per cent that year. The IMF, however, predicts growth of 6.5 per cent next year and the country has just moved up two places in the latest World Bank’s “Doing Business” rating, now ranking 68th out of 189 economies, making it preferable to Turkey as a place to do business.

Some tips for your stay:

Eating out: China Town serves up what is possible the best Chinese food you will have eaten for years – in huge proportions. The chilli duck is not to be missed. For lunch, try the Navigator in what is loosely known as the embassy district; the sushi is excellent. Sierra Coffee is a coffee house serving up Starbucks-style beverages of all varieties.

Hotels: The Hyatt Regency is the premier hotel for business travellers. The centrally located Park Hotel is a charming alternative; the staff are polite, speak good English and all rooms have Wi-Fi.

Off hours: Observe the official flagpole in Friendship Square and watch the changing of the guard every hour. Close by is the White House – the seat of the government – and the National History Museum.

Those keen on venturing outside the capital should head east to Issyk Kul, the tenth biggest lake globally and the second largest mountain lake after Lake Titicaca in South America. Despite being surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Issyk Kul never freezes. Its name means “hot lake” in the Kyrgyz language.

Getting there: flydubai goes five times a week from Dubai to Bishkek. Prices start from Dh910 one way.

lgutcher@thenational.ae