My first impression of Batken was far different from anything I could have expected from the reading I did before I left. Toasts with new friends on a topchan under the Manas Statue in Batken.
I found myself here after a few random but serendipitous connections at the ICRC the weekend before. After securing a ride with another organization, I happened to meet two really incredible guys, Bill and Jim who each have 30+ years of experience in the Air Force and Policing respectively. Their job in Batken is to train local police and build their capacity to police well. Anyways, they agreed to let me stay with them and I met them here, on a topchan, celebrating the birthday of Laura! A great group of folks and lot of fun. I was very blessed to share many plates of plov and cups of vodka with these folks. A great introduction to Batken.