Phrasebook for Kyrgyzstan

Feb 13th, 2008, 06:10 AM
  #1  
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Phrasebook for Kyrgyzstan

Please is any one able to recommend a phrasebook for Kyrgyzstan?

I have heard of (but not seen) Lonely Planet's Central Asia edition but understand it only gives pronunciation not the word in Cyrillic, which seems desirable.

Michael
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Feb 13th, 2008, 07:08 AM
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Michael - I have the latest LP Central Asia guide, and the language section at the back is very short. It does have Cyrillic for the Russian section, but not for the local languages. Town names are given in the text in Cyrillic as well as English. Unfortunately, as in the Ukraine guide, street names on the maps are only in English, which is useless on the ground where the names will be in Cyrillic!

I also have the Odyssey guide to the Kyrgyz Republic. This has a slightly more extensive language section than the LP book, but it gives English, Kyrgyz, Russian and Russian Cyrillic, but not Kyrgyz Cyrillic.
When are you going? (Jealousy, jealousy)
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Feb 13th, 2008, 01:37 PM
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thursdaysd,

Thanks.

I'm still reeling from the surprise of getting a response to such an arcane question, let alone a rapid one!

Hadn't come across Odyssey. I'd seen reference to the Central Asia phrasebook, but with a review pointing out the lack of Cyrillic.

Answer to your question is early June. Only a brief stay unfortunately. In over Torugart, one night at Naryn, three at Karakol, three at Bishkek then fly home to UK. It's the end of a long trip from Irkutsk via Mongolia, Beijing, Xian, Lhasa and Kashgar.

Michael
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Feb 13th, 2008, 01:55 PM
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Michael - sounds like a great trip. I've done the Irkutsk to Beijing piece as part of a much longer trip, but haven't made it to Central Asia yet, despite having the guide books! Hope you'll post a trip report - I was in Kashgar in 2001, and I'll be interested to hear how it's doing now.
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Feb 13th, 2008, 10:17 PM
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Michael, I was interested to hear about your itinerary.

We're heading to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in April. We considered adding Kyrgyzstan-Kashgar -Pakistan but the logistic were rather complicated with the (China-Pakistan) pass only guarenteed to open May 1st.

I'll be very curious to hear about your trip, it looks like a fascinating part of the world.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Feb 13th, 2008, 11:27 PM
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wasleys: I would suggest that you google "Turkic languages wikipedia".

It has a pretty good chart of the current scholarly divisions of the turkic languages and you can find out which languages in which grouping you would like to concentrate on.

There is a list of key words which i believe you will find useful. These words, such as "father" are pretty much the same across most of the Turkic languages.

If you learn the basic words, you will probably be able to recognize them whether they are romanized (As Turkish in Turkey is)or written in the Cyrillic alphabet.

I would suggest that you separately just learn the Cyrillic alphabet.

When the Russians conquered Central Asia, they tried to prevent the Turkic peoples from uniting by rendering their languages differently in the Cyrillic alphabet. For example, the same sound may be written with an "s" in one Turkic language, with a "c" in another, with a "c" with an accent mark in yet another.

On the wikipedia chart, for example, if you look at the word for "lake", it is variously rendered as "kol" "gol" "go'l" etc. all with the umlaut over the word.

If you learn the basic words you can pretty much figure out a lot of the local names. "kara" means "black". So "kara kul" means "black lake". "issyk kul" means "hot lake".

In the wikipedia it says that "tengri" means "god". It actually means "heaven", as in the geographic heaven or the religious heaven.

you didn't say which of the 'stans" you are going to, but the only one that may be linguistically very different would be Tajikstan, which is really an Iranian language and not a Turkic language. But other than this, if you have the basics of the Turkic languages, you should do fine.

Have a great trip!
easytraveler is offline  
Feb 14th, 2008, 06:27 AM
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Thanks for further responses.

I will be putting something together afterwards, not in the normal Fodor's report format but a site of pictures and description. I will post a link to it in the appropriate Fodor's forums when done - others can be found via http://homepage.mac.com/wasleys/

In fact this trip grew organically from a train from Beijing to UK to see Great Wall, Mongolia and Baikal; then a train to Beijing and flight back; then a realisation that a train journey that long would do our heads in and if we were going all the way to Beijing we may well as do something on the way back, and anyway I fancied one of those somewhere -stan places in the middle and the wife was after the Terracotta Army; and just when that was sorted in our minds a brochure about the railway to Lhasa arrived on the doormat.

Michael
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Apr 25th, 2008, 12:45 PM
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My daughter just married a young man from Kyrgyzstan. I don't know about a Kyrgyz phrase book, but since everyone speaks Russian there, you should do well with one for that language.
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Feb 7th, 2009, 02:19 PM
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MICHAEL,
Thank you for your post from last year. I've read your blog of your trip to China on the.Mac page. Can you tell me the travel agent you used? I will be going to the same areas this year and probably will need to have a tour guide.

Suta
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Feb 7th, 2009, 02:50 PM
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Suta,

Are you in UK? I ask because it was a UK agent that arranged the whole trip - Audley Travel at Witney:

http://www.audleytravel.com/

If that's no good and you're looking for an agent in the actual area of travel post back and I can tell you the local incoming agent Audley used in a particular country.

Michael
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Feb 8th, 2009, 01:55 PM
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Michael: Thanks so much for your webpages on your trip!

Great pictures and very interesting read on your trip! Thanks so much for sharing!

I'm wondering what you did ultimately on the language issue. Did you ever find a Kyrgyz phrasebook? And how was the language differences once you were in Kyrgyzstan? Would love to know how you fared.

Thanks again!
easytraveler is offline  
Feb 8th, 2009, 03:23 PM
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According to Wikipedia, Russian is well understood and widely spoken except in the mountainous areas.

Russian and cyrillic tutorials would be substantially easier to come by than Kyrgyz if you're looking to build up a vocabulary before going there, plus the Russian would be helpful in other countries too.

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Feb 10th, 2009, 02:31 PM
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easytraveller,

Glad you liked the pics and stuff.

No, never did find a Kyrgyz phrase book, though got a few phrases off the web. It wasn't a big issue as I didn't think we'd need it much but it would have been nice to be able to decipher a few words on signs and buildings. I did in any case have a Russian book which came along.

We didn't come into direct contact with real (as opposed to touristic) Kyrgyz much and when we did pointing, waving fingers and smiling seemed to work as it usually does. A very (and I mean very) few words of Russian I've got came in handy once or twice, but were only used after I'd made it clear we were English. Unfortunately losing three days in Bishkek due to digestive misfortune reduced the opportunity to interact with locals.

Michael
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Feb 12th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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Interesting. I'm beginning to plan a trip to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan for May 2010 and am gleaning all the information I can to come up with a doable itinerary. Does anyone know a good local travel agent? My husband and I like to travel independently but sometimes find local travel agents can package a better deal for less than I can manage. I pretty much know what to expect from hotels - I don't expect first world hotels- but see the prices are prohibitive for what you get. We would want the best hotels with local atmosphere (Soviet Union leftovers might have to do at times) so I'm betting a local travel agent can package something better. Am I right? Any suggestions?

I'm considering a loop (well, sort of) from Bishkek, down to the silk road Uzbek cities, up through the Fergana Valley, up to the Pamirs and flying out of Almaty. Any suggestions about that? I haven't checked out the visa and border issues yet and may have to adjust accordingly.

My husband speaks Farsi and Azerbaijani Turkish, so language won't be as much of a problem in most areas. Besides, we're pretty adept at making ourselves understood.

Any comments? Thanks.
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Feb 12th, 2009, 10:23 AM
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jahlie - I'm also looking at planning a trip to this region, next spring if not this fall. Last time I looked seriously at a route through Central Asia, I was planning to make at least some of the arrangements with www.stantours.com, and will certainly be looking again at using them.
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Feb 12th, 2009, 10:54 AM
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jahlie/thursdaysd:

There are many local hotels with reasonable local prices, although facilities and services to match. Only the Western-brand big luxury hotels have the matching enormous prices, and there's even backpacker level accommodation in both Bishkek and Almaty (I can't speak for Uzbekistan).

For agents have a look at the site of the Celestial Mountains Tour Company:

http://www.celestial.com.kg/

I haven't travelled with these people, but they (the agency is run by a Briton with Kyrgyz wife) have previously provided me with very detailed and up-to-date information on travel between Kyrygzstan and China, and on their website they provide a vast amount of travel information entirely for free.

There's no doubt whatsoever that you can travel in Central Asia far more cheaply as an independent traveller than by using an agency. But anyone wants to use an agency in the region they could probably do a lot worse than this one. I've used one other agency (now defunct) and spoken to several others in both Bishkek and Almaty, none of whom I would really want to recommend.

Peter N-H
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Feb 12th, 2009, 11:51 AM
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Thanks so much both thursdaysd and PeterN_H. I took a long but not long enough look at the Celestial Mountains website - what a fabulous resource. Kashgar is looking more interesting all the time. My husband and I are very comfortable in Central Asian and moslem cultures so I'm pretty sure independent travel would be fine - actually, fun. I do however, like to have something ready upon arrival - we're pushing 60 and don't like nor need to be put out if we can help it - for example, upon arrival after what is always a grueling international flight, transportation awaiting to take us to a hotel already booked. Backpacker lodging won't work unless there is nothing else available. Since Celestial is located in Bishkek, we could always stop in if we think we need their services - which we will if Kashgar comes into the picture. I haven't researched how to hire a car and driver yet but have read that border crossings can be tricky. If we can do that ourselves, great However, Celestial Mtn. might help booking air within Central Asia - I'll shoot them an email.

Again thanks so much and I'll keep you posted on my progress.

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Feb 12th, 2009, 12:11 PM
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Celestial Mountains are helpful and own the Silk Road Lodge in Bishkek and the Celestial Mountains in Naryn, both of which we used.

Our UK agent used Sitara http://www.sitara.com/ as the local agent for our time in Kyrgyzstan and we had no problems.

We had no problems crossing from China to Kyrgyzstan by car, or more accurately cars as you change at the frontier.
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Feb 12th, 2009, 01:46 PM
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Peter - thanks for the recommendation.

jahlie - I hear that the Kashgar market has gotten (even) more touristy since I was there in 2001, but you might still find my photos interesting if you need an extra incentive - kwilhelm.smugmug.com/Travel/293904
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Feb 12th, 2009, 02:17 PM
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We missed the Kashgar Sunday Market - somewhat thankfully as we suspected and later heard confirmation that it was very touristy.

Our guide suggested a trip to Awat a few miles away where there was a small market that was a marvellous experience. See http://tinyurl.com/bu725t

Apparently there are various markets in small towns and villages near Kashgar (and elsewhere, of course). Good local guides should be able to give advice.
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