Boo yeah, that is a Walt Whitman reference in the title! Literary self-congratulations aside, the description fits our impressions of Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second city. Often referred to as Kyrgyzstan’s southern capital, Osh feels completely different from Bishkek – less modern, more steeped in tradition, and more Islamic. As we ventured even further south, to Sary Mogul and deeper into Kyrgyzstan’s Islamic heartland, stores even stopped selling alcohol and cigarettes. Despite how Islam is portrayed by American media and, sadly, the incoming presidential cabinet, we found that as places became more majority Islamic, so too did their people become more friendly.
Though, to be fair, the comparison is mostly Islamic versus Russified. And in comparisons of friendliness, I’m afraid Russians will typically not make the podium. Read more