Flights directly to Kyrgyzstan are expensive. In fact, I found that I would be spending the same price to hopscotch across Europe visiting old friends and attending weddings as I would buying a simple flight from NYC to Bishkek.
Over the course of July and August I spent a week or so each in London, Gothenburg, Helsinki, and southern Turkey. What was really intriguing was how my research project had already reached these places centuries before. The extents of the trans-Eurasian trade have been truly global long before term “globalization’ was ever conceived. In London, artifacts in the British Museum attested to both sea and overland trade with the Far East. In Helsinki, the Mannerheim Museum includes a collection of photographs that Baron Gustaf Mannerheim took in Central Asia while posted there from 1906 to 1908. And of course Turkey, being both the nexus of the Byzantine Empire and a major port region for goods flowing East and West, is full of art, music, and architecture informed by Central Asian culture. (Turks actually came to Turkey from Inner Asia.)
By taking over a month to arrive in Bishkek, sleeping in guest rooms, on sofas, and in the occasional hotel, I have some sympathy for the traders from the past who lived nomadic lives, moving goods between oases. Often tired, sore, sweaty, exhausted, hauling bags across city squares and out to transit hubs, I am glad to finally settle into one place for at least a few months. Kyrgyzstan – I am back.