Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek
With its blocky soviet architecture and profundity of Chinese food and karaoke outlets, there’s no doubt which neighbouring cultures have shaped the capital of Kyrgyzstan. A visit to the national museum will only confirm this influence – in a mural depicting the glories of Lenin and The Revolution over the aggressive imperialism of America, former US president Ronald Reagan is Dr Strangelove, painted astride a missile and wearing a skull mask, cowboy hat and denim suit. Mother Russia is a beautiful woman with white dove at hand. See this and you might wonder what the muralist now thinks of the US air force base at the civilian airport. Perhaps its best to get the stunning snowcapped Kyrgyz Alatau mountains in view and understand that Bishkek isn’t named for a fermented mare’s milk churn, as its direct translation suggests, but is a bastardised variant of its old Sogdian name, Peshagakh, meaning ‘place below the mountains.’ This view from Bishkek will give you a small taste of the natural beauty for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned.