The citizen of Thailand, Supsuta Sungkawathai, is nicknamed «Aika» in Kyrgyzstan. The 21-year-old student arrived in Bishkek in June 2017 for 6-7 weeks only, but decided to stay here to learn Russian and travel around Kyrgyzstan.
«During my first arrival in Bishkek, I was ‘cat-called’ very often on the street by Kyrgyz guys, for example, «Hey Girl! ...» or stopped by them because they wanted to flirt with me. I feel very uncomfortable when I face this kind of situation, which makes me really disappointed in how women here are often sexually harassed and threatened,» the girl told.
-What surprises you in Bishkek?
-What in Bishkek reminds you of your hometown?
-The hospitality from Kyrgyz people always reminds me of the Thais. When I firstly arrived in Bishkek, I was very confused about destinations and transportation. Of course, I was lost rather often and had to ask people on the street for help. Although they cannot speak English, they tried really hard to understand me and figure it out.
The Thais are also helpful when anybody needs help, but, sadly, some of them are shy to talk with foreigners.
-What do you miss in Bishkek and in Kyrgyzstan?
-Whenever I hear of Kyrgyzstan, I will miss the untouched nature of the country. Last summer, I often went hiking. My first hike impressed me very much. Even though it was raining and quite cold, the nature was indescribable; like, stunning. Furthermore, when I leave the country, I am going to miss all the people I know in Kyrgyzstan.
-What is your favorite place in Bishkek?
-Since I have been living here for the last 7 months, I still like to go to the GUM shopping mall, because there are many things to see there; not only shops, but also cafés. I often go to Panda Café in particular because the atmosphere is nice and calm, the coffee tastes really great there. After I have some coffee, I can go shopping in GUM further.
-What do you like in the national cuisine and are you afraid to even try?
-Personally, I am a noodles lover, but this does not always mean I will like any kind of noodles. If I ever have to choose between rice and noodles, I will always choose noodles.
Lagman is my top favorite noodle dish in Kyrgyzstan, and plov is my favorite rice dish.
Some people might be curious as to why I haven’t chosen beshbarmak, which is a very traditional Kyrgyz food. As I mentioned above, horse meat is unusual for me to eat regularly. In Thailand, we are used to eating chicken, pork, seafood and beef, but horse meat is considered exotic for us.
There is one Kyrgyz snack called kurut, which is easy to find in the supermarket, kiosks and even on the street. Unfortunately, because of its taste and smell, the first time I tasted it, I really disliked it — my face screwed up! Additionally, there’s one national drink called kumys. I had to refuse to take it because I couldn’t even try it due to the smell and taste, even though it is supposed to be healthy.
-What has fascinated you in close acquaintance with the local population?
-Anytime I have had a chance to get to know local people, they have always invited me to be a guest at their place. This really fascinates me how kind and nice they are.
Moreover, when I am a guest there, they give me a lot of tea and food all the time. Even though I say «No, thanks, I am already full», they serve me anyway, which always makes me feel really appreciated by their hospitability.