The Cities of Bishkek and Tashkent
Bishkek is the Capital of Kyrgyzstan and your starting point for the Chatkal river and most any trip to the Tian’ Shan’ Mountains. It is the youngest capital among all Central Asian states. and a modern city of almost seven hundred thousand people. The city is very green with wide boulevards and many nice buildings.
Bishkek is the most secular city in Central Asia, and Islam is less important here than in other Central Asian cities. The majority of people speak both Kyrgyz and Russian. You may meet some people speaking English as well. For such a large city, here are only a few interesting monuments, but you may easily visit the bazaar and drink Kumys (mare milk - the national drink of Kyrgyzstan), or tea in teahouse.
Bishkek has excellent highways to Issyk-Kul’ Lake as well as Inner Tian’ Shan’. The Bishkek airport connects with Tashkent, Almaty, Moscow, Frankfurt, Hanover, and London.
On your return from the Chatkal River you will visit the famous Silk Road city of Tashkent with over two thousand years of history. Tashkent is a large modern city with population of 2.3 million with a very special spirit of the past. It is the largest industrial and cultural center in Central Asia.
A devastating earthquake in 1966 destroyed much of the city, but there are still many historical and cultural places to visit in this ancient city. Among the best is Old Tashkent with monuments as old as the 14th century. You may also visit the central bazaar to feel the atmosphere of the East as you sit in a chaikhana (tea house) and relax as you sip drink green tea.
Tashkent has been a mostly Muslim city since the eighth century and has madrassah, mosques, beautiful parks, and fountains to explore. It is very easy to travel throughout the city due to the Tashkent Metro (Subway) and its very nice stations. At the same time you may meet donkeys carrying loads on the streets. There are many theaters (including Opera and Ballet), museums, a university, and fifteen colleges.
The Tashkent Airport is the largest in Central Asia with connections to Frankfurt, London, Paris, New York, Osaka, Moscow, and many other cities.