Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Our facilitator really wanted us to see something called "Burana," which she described as a "monument."  She said it was sort of near the orphanage, and that it was something that people would ask us about if they knew what city our kids are from.

So, she arranged for the medical translator and driver to take us there after our big medical translation meeting.  I was kind of expecting some kind of war memorial or something like that -- maybe something like the statue of Manas in downtown Bishkek?
No, this is a tower -- a very old tower, dating back to the 11th century.  Wikipedia says it's a minaret from an old mosque, but no one in Kyrgyzstan called it that.  Instead, they tell the story of a princess locked in a tower to protect her from a prophesy that she would die when she turned 16 (Wiki says 18, our translator said 16, so who knows).  Her father supposedly built the tower to protect her from all harm, but when she got to the prophesied age, her servant -- the only person allowed into the tower -- unknowingly brought a spider in along with the grapes for the princess's meal.  The girl died from the poisoned spider bite.  I guess you can't tempt fate.

Near the tower itself, there is a little museum.  It shows historical images of the tower, along with drawings of what the tower looked like originally compared to what it looks like today.  Apparently it once had a domed top.

The tower before the restoration work that was done in the 1970s.  Dates become very interesting when everything is written in Russian -- it becomes just about the only thing you CAN read.  Okay, fine, that isn't true -- I can also recognize the words for "restaurant" and "cafĂ©" along with a few menu items.  Survival Russian for the win! (Even though that wouldn't help us here.)

An old gold plate that was apparently found near the tower.  Right about now is when we found out that you can't take pictures in the museum without paying for a photo permit, so we pled ignorance and illiteracy (at least in Russian) and put our cameras away.  Oh well, we got a picture of the gold plate, which is the coolest thing in the little museum anyway.  :P

Oddly enough, they don't care about picture taking in the gift shop, which is in a yurt next to the museum.

Papa Beast finally found a Kyrgyz hat that fits him.  :P

The view from the platform after the open air staircase.

Here's the best picture I could get of the stairs inside the tower.  Papa Beast was quite the gentleman, forging ahead in the dark to light the way for our translator and me.  Wikipedia does have a better lit photo of the stairs.

There were a few windows on the way up.

Basically, the stairs are pretty tall (each step, that is) and I'm pretty short, so I was climbing using my hands a bit, and gripping the edges of the bricks a bit too.  Yes, I did make jokes about climbing like the spider that killed the princess. 


Here I am!

And here's Papa Beast, collapsed on the floor of the top of the tower.

Another one of Kyrgyzstan's many beautiful views.

And some graffiti, which is actually pretty rare there.

Selfie time!

More selfie time!

That little tiny red dot on the bench is our driver.

Here's the yurt gift shop along with the museum, as seen from the tower.

Papa Beast looking serious.

Here you can see the decoration on the side of the tower.

 Another angle of the tower.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tourist Stuff in Bishkek

 Playing catch up on the blog again.  Tsk, tsk!  Of course, at least this time we have been busy with our travel, etc. 

There's very little that I can share about the visits with the kids -- things are going great with our son, and our daughter has really warmed up to me as well.  We found out more info on their medical status, but that's beyond what can be shared here.  Just about the only thing I can share is that our suspicions are confirmed and our daughter is in fact (at least) half Russian.

Our first trip has come to an end -- well, at least the part in Kyrgyzstan, with our kids -- and we're in the Moscow SVO airport on a layover, which is giving me the time and free wifi to catch up a bit on the blog.

Here are some of the memorable sights in and around Bishkek that we enjoyed seeing -- because that's something I can easily share.  :)

The Kyrgyz White House -- I'm not sure if the president lives here or if he just works here.

Manas and the large flag, by the national museum.

A statue in one of the parks.  I wish I knew more about so many of the little things we saw around Bishkek.

Swan sculpture covered in ivy in the park -- so pretty!

The famous Kyrgyz rugs inside of TSUM.

I want to get one as a wall hanging, but it will have to wait until next trip -- I ran out of luggage space this time.
The Bishkek War Memorial, for the Great Patriotic War (WWII).

We found Lenin.  I hear he used to be where Manas is now (in front of the "front side" of the museum) but of course after communism fell he was replaced with Manas.  This seems to be where they put ol' Vladimir Ilyich.

Another view of the White House -- I thought it was a cool angle.

Manas and the museum.
A close up of Manas, the legendary hero of the Kyrgyz people.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just a Quick Update!

Our visits continue to go well.  I will post photos later of the scenery on the way to the orphanage -- sadly I can't share any of the kids.

Marie and Frankie are both enjoying our visits.  Marie is starting to warm up more and more -- though she prefers Papa Beast to me.  :P

Even so, she still lets me play with her, and she readily hands me things and takes things from me -- and she listens when I tell her "nyet."  She is such a sweet kid -- she takes great care of her friend who is blind, helping her with food and other things around the orphanage.

Little Frankie is such a cheerful child.  We almost never see him without a smile on his face.  He did cry yesterday (Day 3 of visits) when we left.  It's good to know that he likes to see us, but it's hard to see my sweet baby cry. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

We met them!

And they're wonderful kids!

We got to the orphanage and brought gifts for the director, clothing donations, etc.  Then we went outside in the play yard to meet our kids.  They have a really nice play yard, with little patios with play pens for summer-time.

We went outside of the office and three kids walked up with a caregiver, coming back from a walk, I think.  One was our son, and the director called him over.  I got on my hands and knees and called at the same time, and he ran to me, and never let go.  He loves his new teddy bear, with his (birth) named embroidered on it.  He kissed the teddy bear when I asked him to and then kissed me when I asked.  :)  So, so, stinking cute -- I wish I could share the pictures.

We went into one of the play patios and waited for Marie.  She was brought over and seemed very shy but did take her new doll from me and a cookie from Papa.  She would interact a little, but the start to pull back because she is nervous. She seems normal and happy with her caregivers and friends, though, so I think this is just her age and being shy (and being smart -- because she knows something is up).  She did warm up to us a tiny bit as they visit went on, and even offered me some of her candy.  She would also look at her new Papa from the next room while she was eating lunch.  She is definitely curious, but she is also afraid to branch out from where she feels safe. 

Our little ones are both very smart, very quick witted, and obedient.  I hope and pray that our daughter's fears will settle down as she comes to trust us -- but I also know that it is normal for her age to be fearful of strangers.  The fact that she is happy and warm with her caregivers and friends means that she can and does form good relationships -- but it might also mean that she is scared to lose the people, places, and things that are dear to her.