Budget trip for the new year: Khirghizstan

Our humorist offers a cheap alternative to last year's "staycation."
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The yurts are warm, but watch out for the camel dung.

Our humorist offers a cheap alternative to last year's "staycation."

With our economy in taters and Europe so expensive, the smart crowd is vacationing in less expensive but more exotic locales. In 2009 coolsters will head to stylish Khirghizstan, where the dollar is still king.

Romantic Khirghizstan is a mixture of colorful tribal rites and late Soviet-style charm. Here one discovers the joys of the heralded Khirghiz cuisine, based on cabbage and beets, and the national drink, Koumis, fermented mare's milk.

The Khirghiz are wonderfully friendly, but few speak English. To enjoy fashionable Khirghizstan and understand its culture and people, you should master a few phrases:

AbÈsÈnÈÙ bolso, ku/nu/m coq debe? When will the border crossing reopen? Biyirdu/u/ cigitke acalduu kiyik colug"at Kempir o/lso/. When you get around to it — of course. How silly of me to have asked. Saqta, abiyir tapsa balasÈ, atasÈna baq not. Driver, a wheel just fell off this bus. Baq u/c"u/n aq cu/r, alÈs"-beris"ke taq cu/r AbiyiriÙdi cas"ÈÙdan. Yes, since the roads are impassable, it doesn't matter. I agree. Abiyir. Cabbage. Abiyir tapsa balasÈ. Cabbage and beets. Abiyir tapsa balasÈcalayt. Cabbage and beet soup. Abiyir tapsa balasÈ  colu c"ildin arÈs"Ènan qÈsqa. A julienne of lightly seared carrots served on a bed of mesquite-roasted cabbage accompanied by a beet-and-cabbage coulis. Ad abiyur taosa balasE, calduu kiyik Èrg"a qac"at? If you are all out of cabbage and beets, what do you have? "qag"a as" bÈs"Èrtpa,U?s"u/go/ngo/ ot caqtÈrba vodka. Since it's my only choice, I'll have a bottle of vodka. Acalduu kiyik adÈrg"a vodka qac"at vodka? What is the difference between the 50-cent bottle and the 80-cent bottle? Acalduu qarg"a bu/rku/t menen oynoyt? How much longer does the temporary blindness last with the 50-cent bottle? Acalduu qarg"a qolg"o tu/s"po/y qoyboyt? Is this Kirghiz currency or used chewing gum wrappers? Acalduu qarg"a torg"o tu/s"o/t Curly, Larry, or Moe? Why does each Kirghiz bill have a portrait of either Curly, Larry, or Moe? Acalduu to/o/ carda Curlys ottoyt 14.2dapay Larry, c"oc"qo aÙda Larrys ottoyt 4.37 dapay Moe. I understand — 14.2 Curlys equal one Larry and 4.37 Larrys equal one Moe. Acal menen azap qas"-qabaqtÈn ortosunda. But I have a confirmed reservation. Qayda coq,"Èqqan is"te payda yurt. I am not sleeping in a yurt. Qayda coq,"Èqqan is"te payda yurt qas"-qabaqtÈn ortosunda. I am not sleeping in a yurt filled with camel dung. Èz ooruudan ayÈg"at Coq,"Èqqan is"te payda yurt qas"-qabaqtÈn ortosunda? How much is the yurt that is only half-filled with camel dung? AcÈras"ar dos, eerdin artqÈ qas"Èn surayt dollars ar Koumiss? What is the dollar equivalent of three quarts of fermented mare's milk? AcÈras"ar tamÈr, eerdin artqÈ Ac"ta cegenCurlys, dollars quyqanÈ toqto unutpa,Toqto cegen quyqanÈ ac"ta unutpa koumis qas"Èn surayt?I understand you don't accept Kirghiz Curlys, dollars, rubles, or credit cards, but where can I find fermented mare's milk at 10 p.m.? Ac"arc"ÈlÈqta Kirghiz kemege saqtaba, Ku/u/gu/mdo/ do/bo/ Tajikstan? Do Kirghiz men wear those silly hats because you lost a bet with Tajikistan? Èla elek Yeltsin sandÈqta, BÈc"Èla elek qunduz bar? Did Yeltsin break up the Soviet Union just to get rid of Kirghizstan? Ac" bala toq baladay oynoboyt? Where is the restroom? Ac" biyden, toq it caqs"È? Any tree in particular? Es"ek attan Ac" kis"i urus"c"aaq, ArÈq qoy tÈrÈs"c"aaq ozor. I'm sorry. I thought you were a tree. I'm temporarily blind. Ac"arc"ÈlÈqta kemege saqtaba. Calm down. It will wash out.

ClipTravel is the nation's leading travel agency for exotic locations, offering package tours (with ClipPhrasebooks) to all failed states, including Somalia, Liberia, Yemen, Moldova, and New Jersey. Transportation, provided by ClipAir, ClipRickshaw, and ClipDonkey, is included.


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