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The Time I Sent Pat to Get a Loaf of Bread in Bishkek


Hey BvtW readers!

welcome to kyrgyzstan

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan! (photo by Patrick)

We’re coming at you now from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan! I know, we kind of just skipped over the past few weeks involving Turkey, Italy, TBU, and then some… yes, I’m super behind! But, we’ll get to that soon.

So, we arrived in Bishkek about a week ago after a hectic, hectic week in Italy — and me getting sick. Only, my body finally learned that fast travel while being sick just makes you sicker. Trying to explain to all the taxi drivers pressuring us to get a ride from them at Bishkek’s Manas Airport that I couldn’t leave yet because I felt like I was going to vomit was not an easy task.

Rodem House building outside

Rodem House - Our guesthouse for the first 4 nights in Bishkek.

When I finally got around to feeling better, we caught a taxi to Rodem House, a Bishkek guesthouse that was set up by Hostelworld for us, and also where I proceeded to pass out for most of the day. I developed a hefty cough that kept me from sleeping for a couple of nights at all (I’ve never coughed so hard in my LIFE), and I noticed it felt like I had lots of nasty junk in my lungs. There was no improvement with all the meds I was taking so we started on antibiotics with the persuasion of the pharmacist (luckily, they helped almost immediately).

bishkek apt living room

The living room of our super sweet apartment in Bishkek.

We then moved into a super sweet apartment where we will be until around the 16th, but I was still a bit sick. My muscles ached and ached from the coughing, and the first night we were in our sweet apartment, I was coughing and felt a pop in my side, around and under the rib cage. I could barely walk.

Yes, I pulled a muscle FROM COUGHING!

Which, of course, meant that anytime I coughed I was in EXTREME pain. Bye bye sleep, again.

Yeah, it’s been a rough week!

Well, because of my sickness and agony, Pat had to man up and get stuff done for me. Under normal circumstances, I would like to go with Pat to the shops to pick up food and household items, but in this case, I would just slow the process down.

So, I sent Pat to get a loaf of bread for breakfast — only I didn’t send him to the big grocery store down the street where everything is easy to grab. I sent him to the little convenience stand in our complex where you basically have to talk to the worker, or point as I expected would be the case.

About 5 minutes later, Pat swings the door open, quite chipper, holding a bag of croissant-esque rolls.

“How’d it go?”

“Great,” he said while kicking off his shoes at the front door. We dare not enter an abode here in Kyrgyzstan without taking our shoes off. “We had a good conversation.”

“You had a good conversation?” Can you imagine my surprise?

“Yeah. They didn’t have bread though, so I got us these rolls. I think they’ve got like milk cheese in them.

“Milk cheese? Like cream cheese?”

“I think so.”

Ok, that sounds nice, but I’m still confused as to how he knows this. And what about that conversation? I pop back on that topic.

“So, tell me about this conversation. Did the person speak English?”

“A little,” Pat says laughing. “There was no bread there, so I pointed at these two rolls, said ‘dva’, to which the woman said ‘milk’ in English.”

I’m so confused now…

“And, you immediately thought that meant there was cheese in them?”

Pat’s ability to infer with such certainty what someone is saying in another language blows me away, both because sometimes he’s very right and because sometimes he is very wrong but still runs with it. On one of our first taxi rides in Bishkek back to Rodem House, the driver was telling me that he forgot where Umetalieva Street was located. While I rummaged through my backpack for the free Bishkek map we picked up at CBT — telling the man “chas, chas” in the process — Pat started shouting out “109” in English because he assumed the driver wanted the address again — and in English. He doesn’t understand you, hun. You don’t understand him. China should be interesting.

pat bazaar skyscanner bag

Pat has no trouble getting around in Bishkek. At Orto Sai Bazaar.

He turned on the oven to heat up the rolls for our brekky. When he opened the plastic bag and got whiff of them, he told me they might be sweet rolls, which sort of charged up my intrigue level even more.

“Pat, was she asking you if you wanted to buy milk? Was she saying that you need to eat them with milk?”

I couldn’t understand where the cheese, bread, and milk came from in this conversation.

“No, she just picked up the rolls, pointed to them, and said ‘milk’ in plain English.”

When the rolls were finally presented to us on our kitchen table set around corner benches and topped with a flowered plastic tablecloth, I let Pat do the honors. He took a bite and all I saw was some brownish-orange filling. Huh?

It took a few seconds of chewing before he came back with a slightly surprised and confirming response of, “Mmm!”

I couldn’t wait for the full report and instead dug in.

That filling? It was caramel! Made from sweetened condensed milk. Milk!

Finally, we both understood.


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13 Responses to The Time I Sent Pat to Get a Loaf of Bread in Bishkek

  1. Petra May 8, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    🙂 You’ve just reminded me of the time I sent Marcel (my boyfriend), who can barely speak French, to get cutlery from our small hotel reception in Cluny. I used to mock him a lot on his use of French, but then he surprised me and managed to ‘deliver’ all the items I had asked for.

    • Brooke May 13, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      Pat’s been doing quite well. It may not be what we are intending to get, but we get something we can work with 🙂

  2. Tony May 8, 2012 at 5:27 am #

    You just know he’s going to come back with ‘bread rolls’ containing ‘meat’ in China haha.

    • Brooke May 13, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Funny story… Pat went to grab us lunch the other day and swore he got meat pastries… but they were in fact cherry pastries. 🙂

  3. Robert May 8, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    You’ve remind me this summer when I was on the Santiago way! We were in France and my friend always send me to grab food as she can not speak French! Once in Spain I looked at her asking for food and info’s!

    • Brooke May 13, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      Did your friend provide you with any funny experiences in Spain?

  4. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 8, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Well, I suppose part of the fun of travel is all the odd language fail situations that can occur. Personally, I think a 50% hit rate isn’t too shabby, especially when the successes result in pastries filled with condensed milk!

    • Brooke May 13, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      Haha, so right! I was actually quite happy with the result!

  5. Sal May 9, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    This was a GREAT story. Really, I loved reading every word of it all leading to the conclusion.

    Hope you are feeling better!

    • Brooke May 13, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      Thanks, Sal! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. Lauren May 16, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Ahh, Pat, haha….

  7. Daniel Meloy May 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    Wow, that sounds like a tough week with that cough. I’m sorry you had to go through that. But sicknesses are kind of a part of traveling, and (at least in my mind) a little suffering is always worth the pleasure derived from experiencing new places. Your writing is great, and it was really fun to read about your adventures. Thank for the share, I’ll keep checking back in = )


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