20 February 2006

Unexpected Apartments

Most of the apartment buildings in Bishkek are pretty run down. Even newer, nicer building look a bit battered within a year. There are a few clues though that might mean that the apartments inside are nicer than usually, but often it's hard to tell.

A typical building in Bishkek has long hallways of apartments with each set of four apartments sharing a bathroom. Since the government owns the land and the buildings, there is little incentive for the residents to maintain the buildings, or even their own bathrooms. The people on the lower floors don't care if the roof is having trouble, no one cares what's going on in the basement. The government is supposed to take care of things, but you can imagine how often that happens.

But there is a lot of variety in housing in Bishkek. When I take the bus out to the baby house, I pass incredibly run-down buildings and palatial new houses. And you can be surprised by what you find in individual apartments. I visited a friend today whose apartment was amazing. I expected a nicer-than-usual apartment because of the area of town we were in, but I'll never get over the surprise of seeing a beautiful apartment inside an awful building.


  1. So...this begs the question, does your apartment share a bathroom with others?

  2. That's something I couldn't have handled. No, we have our own bathroom (although you can't quite close the door while you're sitting on the toilet unless you're 5 or come up with your own interesting technique). It's even a western-style toilet. I wouldn't have been interesting in a squatter every day for a year.

    Now you know more about toilets here than you ever wanted to know. And this is only a corner of what I could tell you about them.