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Kevin O’Connell: Kyrgyzstanis ask me once a week when I'm getting married

An English language teacher at one of international schools in Bishkek Kevin O’Connell actively travels around the world.

I decided to come to Central Asia because it’s very different from what I’ve known. I grew up reading stories of this region, often told by mountaineers who spoke of the natural beauty here.

In the past I’ve lived in America, Thailand, Taiwan, and Antarctica, but Kyrgyzstan is by far the most beautiful. I feel very fortunate to live here.

Kevin O’Connell

— I’m surprised how difficult it is to find kok boru game here! I want to try playing before I leave.

I’m also shocked by the amount of construction happening across Bishkek. It seems that every day ground is broken for a new building. Everyone is very optimistic for the future of their country, I’m very excited to see it grow and develop.

— What reminds you of your hometown in Bishkek?

— The landscape in Colorado is very similar to Bishkek. Giant rugged mountains, golden rolling plains, and beautiful alpine lakes. We’re also famous for our winters.

— What do you miss in Kyrgyzstan?

— I desperately miss spicy food and hot sauce! I’ve started to make my own hot sauce with local peppers. I also miss pizza, I haven’t found a decent pie in Bishkek yet.

— What is your favorite place in Bishkek?

— The public parks in Bishkek are world-class. I often spend my weekends walking or reading in Panfilov Park. I love the old soviet amusement park rides speckled across the city!

— What do you like in the national cuisine, and what are you afraid even to try?

— So far I’ve enjoyed almost everything I’ve tried. The food here is an interesting mix of Chinese, Middle Eastern, and other cuisines, but still uniquely local. I still don’t understand the Kyrgyz fascination with ketchup, I’ve never seen so many brands of ketchup in my life!

I’m an adventurous eater, but I haven’t met a foreigner yet who isn’t nervous about trying sheep’s head.

Kevin O’Connell

 — What has fascinated and disappointed you in close acquaintance with the local population?

— People here get married and have children so young! My friends don’t consider marriage until their late 20’s or early 30’s. In Kyrgyzstan, someone asks me once a week when I’m getting married. I’ve also been surprised by how friendly everyone is. People are very excited to share their country with me, and I’m very grateful for their kindness.