Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Bingo

12 Jul


This is one of my favorite blog posts in recent memory…and I didn’t write it.
A guest blog by Patrick ❤


Following the amazing Mystery Trip and our incredible trip to Mississippi, Sammi and I were downright dedicated to keeping our travel momentum going. After reflecting on the fact that our collective energy for challenging travel was waning, we decided it was best to try to visit some of those places that we really wanted to see but needed some help to visit. And by ‘help’ we meant each other. We started to brainstorm a list of countries that would be hard to travel to. And when we say hard, we mean HARD. Like, the type of places where you find yourself wondering “What the hell am I doing here?”

We settled on a list of 8 countries, divvied them up, and started researching. Our goal: to narrow the list down to the best option for travel in July. There were, of course, some caveats, and they allowed us to quite neatly hone in on a destination that always invokes thoughts of “I literally know nothing about that place!” Strap on your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen, we’re headed to Kazakhstan!

Our thorough preparation consisted of the following:

  1. Figure out a city in Kazakhstan that has an airport. (You get bonus points if you could name Astana or Almaty, because I certainly couldn’t.)
  2. Book a flight to the one that’s named after an apple (Almaty).
  3. Buy a guide book and talk a lot about getting to hunt with an eagle because that’s the photo on the cover and we didn’t actually read the book in advance.
  4. Set up CouchSurfing for our first two nights.
  5. Have a Fur-reaking awesome weekend at the Furries.
  6. Show up at the airport absolutely exhausted after road trips to Toronto and Warren (Patrick’s hometown).
  7. Let the fun begin…because you don’t really need to be prepared to travel to a HARD country, do you?

Luckily, we had a whole day of travel to Almaty, which would give us plenty of time to watch movies read the guide book and make a plan. I mean, we certainly weren’t going to look out the window.

“Excuse me, but my window seat is missing a window.”


Building off of the enthusiasm that was generated by Furry Bingo, Sammi and I knew exactly how to get the most of our adventure:

How do you say “Bingo” in Kazakh? That definitely should have been a square.


So, to wet your appetite for our upcoming posts detailing our adventures in Kazakhstan AND Kyrgyzstan (because it was just too tempting to hitchhike across a remote alpine border crossing), here’s some evidence that we did in fact get to yell “Бинго!”

Official translation from our Kazakh CouchSurfing Host: “These guys are drunk and celebrating the short guy’s birthday and they want to INVITE YOU TO THEIR HOME FOR A TRADITIONAL KAZAKH FEAST so you can be the first Americans to step foot in their house. Unfortunately, the feast would likely last for days and you have to be at the airport in 6 hours.”


Riding on PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION (AKA our favorite subway in the entire world) in Almaty. Sammi: “Can we just spend the whole day riding on the subway?” Alex (Our amazing CouchSurfing Host): “There are only six stops.”


Remember that time we were hitchhiking to Kyrgyzstan and had such good luck with rides that we hardly had time to take a picture of a gorgeous MOSQUE?


Sometimes the best way to enjoy BESHBARMAK, the National Dish of Kazakhstan, is to buy it in a can and bring it back to the States so you can trick your girlfriend into eating horse meat.


If you go out SHOPPING for the best snack in Karakol and discover chocolate-covered goldfish, you better buy ALL OF THEM.


That’s a pretty sweet backdrop for your Russian SPA.


You might as well try a POWDERY SWEET made from fermented camel’s milk while you’re waiting to try SHUBUT (fermented camel’s milk) and KUMISS (fermented mare’s milk). For the record, all three were disgusting.


Selfie with the YURT THAT WE SLEPT IN.


There is nothing more MEMORABLE than a Latte Popcorn. Except for maybe HORSE SAUSAGE jerky.


The only dangerous part about making a new KAZAKH FRIEND while hitchhiking is he’ll probably try to FaceTime with his girlfriend while driving in the dark on windy mountain roads just to prove that he’s made some American friends.


If you’re going to go for a SWIM at some point in your trip, you might as well do it in a freezing alpine lake with dead spruces strewn about for added effect.


Grooving to some LIVE MUSIC at the Metro Pub in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Not pictured: Mind-blowing rave happening in the back room.

Just bring in an empty plastic bottle and they’ll fill it up with KAZAKH BEER. No charge for carbonation (added separately!).


There’s no better way to finish off a yurt-building workshop than with tea and sweets in a YURT CAFE.



Patrick: “Why is it that every time I tell my HORSE to ‘Go!’ it slows down?”


Those are some pretty UNIQUE ANIMALS.


If you’re going to have a picnic in the soul-draining sun, you better make sure you have some SALAD (Ok, it’s not technically Russian, but you know.) Or, if you’re Sammi and Patrick, you’ll get so excited by the fact that the lady selling the salad speaks English that you’ll buy 8 and end up carrying around 4 kilos of salad on your back during a death march through the sand.


Make a TRAVELER FRIEND? How about 3?!?


Let me provide you with the definition of one of the TEN WORDS we learned: Shashlik = The most delicious grilled meat in the world.


Okay, so maybe we got a little ahead of ourselves when we declared that crossing a major road in Almaty without a crosswalk counted as being DAREDEVILS. How were we supposed to know there’d be a two-person swing on Issyk Kul? And, for the record, we never technically said that a BOARD GAME couldn’t just involve an actual board.




Guess who couldn’t be more excited about SNACK time? BOURSAKI anyone?


The Full MANTY (steamed dumplings).



One Response to “Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Bingo”

  1. deekerson November 27, 2018 at 11:38 pm #

    Мен әрқашан «Бинго» дегеннің не екенін білетінмін. Енді мен білемін. Айтпақшы, шоколадты алтын балықты нақты балық немесе крекер балықтары қамтыды ма? Мен сіздермен ешқашан білмеймін.

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