The Greenest City in Asia

Bishkek has often billed itself as “the greenest city in Asia.” There is a lot of truth in the claim. The Soviet-style north-south, east-west grid of the city is punctuated by large, lush parks that intersect with government buildings, apartment blocks, and commercial zones. Most streets are lined with large oaks and fir trees. Official, austere squares are softened by massive flower beds. In some parks enormous copses of rose bushes rise up blooming in the late summer sun.

Rose bed in the Open Air Scupture Musuem in Oak Park

Rose bed in the Open Air Scupture Musuem in Oak Park

Togolok Moldo

Art student sketching near the Togolok Moldo Sculpture in the park bearing his name. Togolok Moldo was a famous poet, musician and manaschi (reciter of the national epic, Manas) in the early 20th century.

At the same time, some of the qualities that have recently been associated with “green,” such as environmental consciousness are still lacking. Air pollution in Bishkek is higher than recommended standards, often due to traffic and the lack of regulations for cars to have catalytic converters. Resources are inefficiently consumed because of the design of old Soviet-era infrastructure, and it is common to see litter in many parts of the city that are not surrounding the seats of government power.

Flower beds planted in Bishkek's central plaza, Ala Too Square.

Flower beds planted in Bishkek's central plaza, Ala Too Square.

Garden next to the parliament building.

Garden next to the parliament building.

All the same, the thriving plant life gives residents, me included, a sense of relief and calmness that is rare in cities of this size. The population is estimated to be over 1.25 million.

Child playing on a bungee trampoline in Erkindik (freedom) Park.

Child playing on a bungee trampoline in Erkindik (freedom) Park.

I am lucky enough to live and work in the center of the city. The American University of Central Asia (AUCA), where I am a fellow at the Social Research Center, is next to the parliament building and my flat is only a few blocks away. As a result I get to stroll through the Open Air Sculpture Museum in Oak Park on my way to the AUCA in the mornings.

Lion sculpture in the Open Air Sculpture Museum in Oak Park

Lion sculpture in the Open Air Sculpture Museum in Oak Park

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One Response to The Greenest City in Asia

  1. Nevada Kid says:

    Very good articles and photos where you are studying. Interesting and very informative.

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