A Netherlander Arno van Dijk came to Kyrgyzstan four months ago for an internship at the tour operator Nomad’s Land for his study in international tourism management and consultancy.
One of the reasons why I chose for an internship in Kyrgyzstan was of course its’ relatively unknown natural aspects of nature, culture, and history.Arno van Dijk
— What surprises you in Kyrgyzstan?
— I was surprised how quickly I could adapt to a lifestyle here. People here tend to be very direct, and that’s one of the things that the Netherlands and Kyrgyzstan have in common.
— What in Bishkek reminds you of your hometown?
-The café culture in Bishkek is definitely something that reminds me of my hometown Breda in the Netherlands. The atmosphere found here at night time is very cozy, which is a good reason for me to frequently visit restaurants and bars downtown.
— What do you miss living here?
— I do not really miss so much, everything here is pretty great. If I’d have to mention one thing that I miss most, then it would probably be fried snacks from the Netherlands and cheese from my country!
— What is your favorite place in Bishkek?
-That’s a difficult question. If we are talking about sightseeing attractions, then it would probably be the Victory park, which can be really nice with the monuments, flowers, and the mountains on the background. Otherwise, I would say the Ala Archa park, but that actually is just outside of Bishkek.
As for food and drinks, I would probably say that I enjoy restaurant Barhat the most. A little restaurant which sells traditional food and drinks, but it is amazing!
— What do you like in the national cuisine and what are you afraid to even try?
— It took me a long time to get used to the food in Kyrgyzstan. The food is not bad at all, but it’s just really fat, and my stomach needed some time to get used to this. Plov and fried lagman are amazing!
Normally I would say that I’m open-minded towards everything, however I do find that after four months I yet have to try kymyz. Maybe that’s the only drink here of which I am a little bit scared!
— What has fascinated and disappointed you in close acquaintance with the local population?
— What fascinates me the most is how little attention Kyrgyzstan receives in the world’s travel industry. It could be said that Kyrgyzstan has near infinite natural resources that are ideal for tourism, including beautiful lakes, impressive mountains, different micro-climates, and adventurous roads. Yet you will spot just few tourists while you are out there.
On the other hand, you would see that the country is pretty much inaccessible, if you are on your own and when you do not speak the local languages. Anyways, this could be seen as an adventure as well I would say.
— What would you change in Bishkek?
-If it was up to me, I would not change anything. Bishkek is raw and with little tourism infrastructure, but this is exactly what makes the city so special.