After 36 hours of being thrown up and down and around (like a chopped-up lettuce being tossed in a salad bowl) in a cramped junkyard-worthy propeller plane, I finally land at Manas Airport in the Capital City Bishkek. My top priority is, NOT to look for my King yet, but to untangle all my TWISTED internal organs back to their rightful positions. I comfort myself that in a few minutes, I can stretch out in my ultra-luxury limo, sipping champagne and switch on CNN/TSN/MSN or whatever ‘N’ for some news from modern civilization. Little do I know what is installed ahead of me…….
I am greeted by this tiny old man with white moustache wearing a beautifully-embroidered costume and a flowerpot(?) upside-down on his head, coming right out of a fairytale. He introduces himself as my tour ambassador, speaking with a funny accent at a super fast pace.
** I show him a picture of my handsome King, attempting to confirm, “To Bae Yong Joon, OK?”
* He keeps nodding his head and repeats after me, “Ahhhh! Bae Yong Joon, vvver-ly famous, vvver-ly handsome!”
He then brings out a humongous horn and blows (with all his might, and his saliva too!) right to my face, it screeches so loud that my 2 ears and 1 nose almost fall off. Then I hear the deafening sound of roaring distant train and the whole floor starts to tremble. Before I can figure out what level on Richter Scale this earthquake measures, I see a fleet of ‘half-buffalo, half-rhino’ type of beasts stomping at my directions as he signals them to charge towards me! When those ‘beasts’ brake right in front of me, my eyes are as wide as ping-pong balls but I dare not make any sudden movement or sound to agitate them.
** I open my mouth gently and ask him, “Excuse me sir, what’re these?”
* He replies proudly, “Madam, your limo has arrived!”
** I am in disbelief, I explain, “No no no, there must be some mistakes. You see, I am expecting an automobile with 4 wheels, white and long with tinted windows, air conditioning and a mini bar, soft comfy seats with soothing music, maybe even a high-definition TV! I don’t see these guys resembling anything close to THAT!”
* The man continues to smile contentedly and repeats, “Madam, this is our ‘limo’ for visitors to Kyrgyzstan. These yaks are the most honoured animals here and can carry you anywhere to see anyone you want.”
** I murmur to myself, “I thought Reindeer can take you anywhere to see anyone you want, I don’t remember seeing these YAK-KY things flying over my chimney on Christmas Eve??”
* He ignores me and continues, “So madam, which model will ya be taking today : deluxe or economy? You do have your choice of a single or double humps.”
** I stare at him and respond with my ‘very-little-left’ strength, “Enlighten me sir, what’s the BIG difference between a single or double humps??”
* Now the man gets very enthusiastic and explains in his funny accent, “Oh, bbbiggg difference! U see, you can choose the ‘economy single-hump 2-seater’ OR pay premium for our ‘deluxe 2-humps private seat’ which you’ll have the exclusive comfort of front and back support.”
** I am totally baffled, “What?! How on earth can you put 2 people on a single hump yak?”
* “Well, vvver-ly easy. The FRONT guy just have to lean BACK a little while the BACK guy has to lean FORWARD a bit, then everybody is happy!”
** Now I am ‘certified’ confused. I roll up my eyes and give up, “I can’t believe this is happening to me. OK, I’ll take the 2 humps. All to myself and no leaning, right?”
* “Fine choice madam, fine choice. Since you’ve been so patient, I’ll throw in a bonus for you at no extra charge. If you are thirsty, you can squeeze at the yak’s bottom like turning a tap and have instant hot yak’s milk right to your mouth. If you feel cold at night, you just burn the dried-up yak’s dung to keep yourself warm and toasty!”
** NOW I totally feel like throwing UP all my meals from the past month! I exclaim, “You’ve got to be joking! You don’t mean I have to touch this yak-ky thing’s bottom and scoop up its dung! Not in a million years!” I shake my head and just hand him my credit card.
* He refuses, “sorry Madam, we don’t take this! Do you have anything valuable with you?”
** My patience has almost run out, “Well, everything that I brought is valuable. Let me see - I have my Cartier watch, Hermes scarf, Gucci bag, Chanel coat, Dolce and Gabbana dress and Manolo Blahnik stilettos. Which one do you want?”
* He frowns, “Madam, in this part of the world, these impractical material things are of no use to us. We are very basic and simple people, we need things that we can put into our mouths! Do you have anything like that?”
** I try to think hard, “Well, I don’t have any food, the closest thing that I can think of that touches my mouth is my lipstick.”
* He appears interested, “Is lipstick edible?”
** I ponder, “Ummm ….. I started putting lipstick on since I was 18, by now I must have swallowed over 100 lipsticks into my tummy and I’m still living?! My stomach may have shades of sunset rose, sweetheart pink, princess coral and forget-me-not mauve ….., but I haven’t died yet!”
* He is convinced, “Ok, I’ll take the lipstick.”
** I am relieved and can’t wait to leave, “Thank you sir, thank you!”
So I wave ‘au revoir’ to Mr. Upside-down-flowerpot and head straight for the mysterious Issyk-Kul Lake/Jewel of Central Asia/Blue Pearl of Tien-Shan to search for wuri King Charming.