Why I'm Not In Kyrgyzstan

Why I’m Not In Kyrgyzstan Right Now

Derek Kyrgyzstan, Travel Tales, Ukraine 49 Comments

Why I'm Not In Kyrgyzstan

On July 18th, I was sitting at a cafe in Bucharest talking to a fellow traveler, Jeremy, from TheWorldOrBust.com, when he randomly mentioned that Pegasus Airlines, a budget airline based out of Turkey, was offering extremely cheap airfares from Bucharest to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.


Upon hearing this piece of news, I decided to double-check his claim and sure enough, the fare was indeed $232 USD, quite a bargain for such a long-distance flight to a part of the world that is often very expensive to reach.

Nevertheless, I had a few hours of work to finish up and so it wasn’t until I was back at my apartment later that afternoon that I pulled up the deal again on my laptop and gave it some serious thought. That serious thought ended up being, “I am definitely going to Kyrgyzstan!” I even went over to my Facebook page and announced my intention to go.

After all, I had planned to spend the last week of July and the first three weeks of August traveling somewhere new anyway, mainly because I had to leave Romania for visa reasons (for those who have been following along, I didn’t have time to renew my Romanian residency visa yet and it has since expired). So, what better place to travel to than Kyrgyzstan, especially with a $232 USD flight.

To say that I was excited would be a major, major understatement. I know almost nothing about Kyrgyzstan, which makes it even more attractive, and it would be my first foray into Central Asia, apart from my trip to Afghanistan several years back.

However, moments before I hit the ‘Confirm’ button to purchase my flight ticket, I remembered something.

Between the dates of August 13th – 19th, I have somewhere to be. I had already organized a special trip to what I will only mention now as another ‘secret destination’. And if I was going to visit Kyrgyzstan first, I needed to make sure I could get from Bishkek to this ‘secret destination’ relatively easily and cheaply.

Well, it turns out I couldn’t. When I first checked, the prices for such flights could only be described as out of control. I waited another day and tried again, but no luck this time either. I even waited six more days, checking for flights almost hourly, but the prices never went down.

Finally, this past Thursday, I had no choice but to give up the idea of visiting Kyrgyzstan right now.

Plan B

It was therefore time to move to Plan B, which, in fact, was my original plan before I heard about that cheap flight from Bucharest to Bishkek. Plan B involved traveling to the Republic of Georgia and Armenia and that idea suddenly sounded as appealing as ever. So, I went back online and looked for airfares.

I found a flight from Bucharest to Tbilisi, Georgia for $183 USD and immediately decided to take it. But then, I once again remembered that I also needed to purchase a flight to my secret destination afterwards, as well as a flight back to Bucharest in time to lead my “Wander Across Romania” Tour at the end of August.

Naturally, I was very disappointed to discover that it would take a good $1500 USD for the flights I needed after visiting Georgia and Armenia. That wasn’t going to happen. I waited another day and tried again, but the fares remained the same.

Oh my.

At this point it was Friday (yes, just three days ago) and I was staring at my laptop without a plan. All I knew was that I needed to leave Romania by Sunday. It was a strange feeling knowing that in two days I would be in a different country even though at the moment I had no idea which of the 195 or so countries on the planet it would be.

Where Am I?

Ukraine. Yup. Lviv, Ukraine.

That’s where I am right now.

On Saturday morning, I had started looking for airfares yet again. I searched for flights to/from Delhi, Bangkok, Tallinn, Oman, Morocco, Singapore, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Dubai, Tel Aviv and dozens of more destinations before, all of a sudden, the Ukrainian city of Lviv randomly popped into my head.

I typed it into the search engine and within seconds there appeared a remarkably cheap flight from Bucharest. I then looked for airfares from Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev to my secret destination and then back to Bucharest, and I could not believe it when I saw the results. In fact, the airfare was so reasonable that I didn’t even take a moment to think about it as I quickly entered my credit card details and booked the tickets. Done deal.

The next morning at 8:30am I was on a flight to Istanbul, where I had a full 27-hour layover to spend relaxing at the Agora Guesthouse (my favorite guesthouse in the city), eating at my favorite local restaurants and enjoying a shisha session at my favorite nargile cafe, before catching my direct flight to Lviv earlier today.

And now here I am, in a city and in a country that never even crossed my mind as a potential destination until a mere 48 hours ago.

That’s how this long-term travel stuff works sometimes. One minute you think you’re going to Kyrgyzstan and the very next minute you’re on your way to the Republic of Georgia. But somehow you end up in Ukraine.

It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but I still get a kick out of this frequent uncertainty that rules my life. If that wasn’t the case, I’d have stopped traveling a long time ago.

Have you had similar situations? Do you enjoy the uncertainty? If you haven’t traveled yet, do you think you would enjoy this kind of uncertainty?

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Comments 49

  1. Pingback: Everything Works Out When You Plan and Don't - adventure arc

  2. I was all set to go and teach in the Czech Republic for a year…and ended up in Kyrgyzstan instead! It’s a great country, I went back this year for a holiday and it has changed quite a lot but still felt like my second home. Central Asia is great- and Georgia is fantastic too (get to Abkhazia if you can, very interesting place).

  3. I had a similar situation happen several times, going to Venezuela on a whim and going to The Philippines unexpectedly because Thailand only gave me a 15-day visa, etc. It’s all part of the adventure, and being on a budget forces you to think creatively (and appreciate things even more when things work out!)

  4. Please can you make it to Kyrgyszstan one day, Earl?! I would love to see it through your eyes. Central Asia is like a great big mysterious blob on the map for me.

  5. Oooh, Kyrgyzstan. Nice one Jeremy, I like the sound of that. I’ll have to check and see if Fly Pigs (I’m not being insulting, that’s what their website url looks like on a quick glance) flys there from Turkey and file that away for a future trip.

  6. As a Kyrgyz enthusiast, I can only recommend you make that trip sometime soon! If you worry about getting stuck on flights, keep in mind that FlyDubai flies from FRU and OSS as well!

  7. These things happen without a plan, however, that’s half the fun of travelling! Taking whatever comes your way and going with the flow. I’m sure you’ll enjoy Ukraine…have fun!

  8. Sweet! I love Lviv. I lived there for three months this past winter and have some good friends their. There are some good restaurants in the city center. If you want some cheap pizza, go to час поїстй (“time to eat”) you can get a decent sized pizza for 14 hreven which is under $2. I would like to return to that city in the summer sometime. If you are interested attending a church there, I know of some very welcoming ones.

  9. the 3 month visa you’re referring to only applies to countries in schengen. for all other countries in europe but not in schengen, they have their own visa rules.

  10. i know the feeling mate! last summer i thought i’d go straight from poland to the czech republic for a few weeks, but on a whim i decided to go to hungary instead. how are you liking ukraine so far? i’ve never been

    1. Hey Steve – So far I’m really enjoying it but I’ve only been in Lviv, which I have a feeling is a little different than other parts of the country. I’m heading to the mountains and some smaller towns over the weekend so we’ll see what I find in those parts.

  11. Phew what a crazy rush. I tend to travel a lot slower so have not had to have any mad rushes like that!

    How comes you are able to travel from Europe to Europe? Doesn’t your 3-months expire Europe wide?

  12. I think that if I were a long term traveller I would totally just go with the moment and end up wherever. Sadly though, I’m not. HA. I usually know well ahead of time where I’m going and when.

  13. Definitely keep Kyrgyzstan on your list! I travelled through Central Asia last year. After travelling many places over the past 15 years, Central Asia is one of my favourite destinations. Tajikistan also being a highlight with the Wakhan valley.

  14. Thanks for the love, and if it makes you feel better, I changed my plans on a whim too. Stefan and I were going to head into Montenegro, but after being a little disappointed on how touristy Croatia was, we made a spur of the moment change and are currently in Mostar, Bosnia. From just being here an hour we know we made the right decision. I was planning on going to Georgia and Armenia too, but I think I am going to run into the same problems as you, i.e. finding reasonable flights back out. Think I might just save it for my next trip. Hope Lviv is legit, want to go there as well.

    1. Hey Jeremy – Glad you’re enjoying Mostar, definitely less touristy than the coast. Let me know where you do end up after the Balkans!

  15. I was super excited that you were going to Georgia! I am headed there in the fall and was looking forward to some tips… but alas, it isn’t so. Maybe the Ukraine will randomly turn up on my itinerary some time!? Have a blast!

    1. Thanks Megan and you’ll have to share your Georgia experiences here on the blog so that we can discover it from you!

  16. I’m impressed that you seem to not only enjoy the uncertainty but to positively embrace it. It’s also great to know there’s a budget carrier to Central Asia (thank you and Jeremy for the tip!) I’m disappointed you’re not going to Kyrgyzstan because I was hoping to know more about it (all I’ve heard is the skies are huge and the hiking is great) in your unique and wise voice… But I’ll look forward to hearing about Ukraine instead! 🙂

    1. Hey Owen – I’ll get over to Kyrgyzstan eventually I’m sure and so far, Ukraine has proven to be quite an interesting destination as well. And yes, definitely check Pegasus Airlines any time you’re in the Eastern Europe/Turkey/Central Asia region as they do offer some pretty unreal deals at times.

  17. Uncertainty gives me anxiety, but I am also not a big planner, either. I came to Argentina 2 weeks ago with essentially no plans, and it made me a bit anxious, but everything has worked out so well (for the most part!) I’m dying to explore Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and all the “stans”. So, when do we find out what your secret destination is???

  18. Hi Earl,
    Hope you’re enjoying your time here in Lviv–it a lot warmer than it usually is ;-). Make sure that you go to the top of City Hall for a great 360 degree view of the Old Town. The restaurant at the Opera Hotel has another great view. Check out LvivAlive.com for Events, Dining and Entertainment, etc.

  19. It depends on the uncertainty. If I’m going to die, then no, I hate uncertainty. If I have to bungee jump, then I hate uncertainty even more than if I were going to die. But, not knowing where I’m at or where to go next…I can live with that.

  20. Good going Earl! Persistence and reward. Type magic fingers and off you go. Love it!

    The devil in the details in me has me thinking that there’s more to it than just buying a ticket. I’m sure that by now, you know to check to see if a visa can be purchased at the airport, your point of entry. Are there any other details that you didn’t mention that you did and didn’t reveal? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

    1. Hey Steve – Apart from the flights, the visa is really the only other factor that would allow/not allow a person to travel to whichever random destination came to mind. So, I always do a quick check if I’m not sure of the visa rules and go from there!

  21. And that is how we ended up in Poland. It happened to be the cheapest flight to Europe from NYC. What a GREAT decision that was, loving it here. 🙂

    1. Hey Dalene – Glad to hear it and I might be in Poland in September for a few days, will let you guys know!

  22. Hi Earl.. I am curious to know if you were close to just going to the airport in Romania, without any plan – and living every travellers dream of looking up at the departures board and picking a city, only then?

  23. Being the fan of Georgia, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan that I am, I’m bummed to hear you didn’t end up in any of the 3. But Lviv is also one of my favorite cities, so hope you’re enjoying your time there. If you have time to explore the region at all, Kamyanets-Podilsky is awesome and Kolomyya is cute with a really awesome, cheap guesthouse called On the Corner B&B.

    And definitely try to make it over to the Caucasus & Central Asia soon! 🙂

  24. LVIV is awesome — be sure to check out the coffee place in the under ground bunker by Dianes Cafe and then across the street at night the bar were you say “slavo-ukraine” for access. this is great with friends.

    There is also a romantic “movie and jazz” place if you meet a woman.(as i did)

    I also saw an oprah there

    say hello to the beautiful women there….just walk the streets from 6-9

  25. I am always amazed by your courage and adventurous spirit 🙂 Thank you for being the person I live vicariously through, because unlike you, I’m not sure I am strong enough to live life as much on the edge as you do. Safe travels!!!

    1. Hey Christi – You don’t need to live way out on the edge, even taking a couple of small steps from the center often leads to rewarding adventures 🙂

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