So you have your bills in hand and you are ready to go pay. Keep in mind that since everyone in your town or city is receiving their bills within just days of the due date that you aren’t the only one headed to pay. You’ve got to be strategic about the time of day you go. Businesses have a slow start in Kyrgyzstan, particularly in the villages. There is no sense in being at the bill paying office at 8 am. 9 am is probably the absolute earliest you want to show up at any business. I’d say 9-10 am is a pretty good window for bill paying. They will be closed for an hour for lunch; here in Karakol that seems to be 12-1, whereas in Bishkek is seems that 1-2 was normal. They will also typically close around 4pm, and the later in the day you go, the busier they are.
When you get to the office, find your place in line. Except, there will be no line. Central Asians form masses of people, not lines. So you find your place by immediately asking “Who’s last?” Someone will answer and you remember who you are behind. When the next person comes in answer that you are the last person, and there’s your line.
It is also a good idea to have close to exact change for your bills. The workers never seem too pleased to spend time fishing for lots of change. In Bishkek, we paid all of our bills at the central post office. It was very convenient and there were several “lines” you could stand in to pay your bills. Here in Karakol, you can pay most of your bills at the post office but the one time my friend and I went to pay our bills there, we couldn’t figure out any system for getting in line to pay. There were just 10-20 grandmas sitting around seemingly studying our every move. Therefore, we have since opted for the direct offices themselves, where we could get in line and get the job done.
As a rookie like me, you will derive much personal satisfaction from completing this every day task within a system so different than what you may be used to. Happy bill paying!