Joined June 2017 Message
  • Day11

    Bishtek

    July 12, 2017 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    After checking in at our hotel, we leave for a 5pm city tour, the heat of the day now diminishing. We start at victory square and see the eternal flame for fallen soldiers. Many of the memorials use women figures, here a woman holding a cup representing a mother servicing the nation's sons. We walk a few minutes to TsUMs, the famed Soviet national department store. We rode the escalator 5 flights to the souvenir level. It's hot, with a bunch of stalls selling Soviet kitsch, felt products, t shirts, slippers, and other underwhelming choices. I head out to the plaza in front for a lovely street scene of fountains and people enjoying the afternoon. I'm shocked to see several of the Soviet era drink machines, with plastic cups, still in use, dispensing drinks. We walk through many more monuments, past the Kryg Queen who made the original pact letting in the Soviets in the mid 19th century, past the women's liberation monument dedicated to when women freed themselves from wearing the head scarves in 1917, past Lenin, relegated to the back of the State historical Musuem which is under renovation, past the monument to the student uprising of 2010, past stately buildings and wide boulevards, eventually stopping for dinner at a beautiful restaurant with very slow service.Read more

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  • Day10

    Chong-Kemin to Burana Tower

    July 11, 2017 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    We leave Song-Kul and retrace our steps down the switchbacks of the mountain. The wildflowers are stunning and we come across a herd of yaks getting out for a photo-stop. We stop at a roadside cafeteria that has a huge assortment of hot and cold selections. I opt for lentil soup, yogurt-compote and moussaka like dish. We then drive to our guest house in Chong-Kemin, a national park area. It is delightful with a second floor terrace that feels like a tree house, cool breezes, surrounded by green mountains, and a courtyard that our room opens onto that is populated by Turcic Balbas - gravestones. We take a quick walk but otherwise relax the rest of the day, eating dinner on the terrace. The next day we are off to Bishtek - the capital of Krygstan, by way of the Burrata tower. The tower dates from over a 1000 years ago and originally served as a lighthouse - guiding the way for those going between kharavistas - trading outposts. The original tower was reconstructed by the Soviets. More interesting to me is the gathering of Turcic gravestones that are placed near the tower, not original to this site but dating from the 5 - 9 centuries. The gravestones have faces and are holding cups that symbolize what kind of life they lived. They're also all male. Then off to Bishtek.Read more

  • Day9

    Song Kul

    July 10, 2017 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    Happy Birthday to me. Wake up after a night glamping in Yurtville. Quite comfortable mattresses on the floor, coal stove and blankets. We gather for breakfast of porrige and fried eggs. A short rest then time for horseback riding. We saddle up and stay closely together to the guide while heading through the Meadows towards the hills through fields of wild flowers. Our horse Shepard dog trots ahead of us and circles back for us. We circle back and do a short stretch along the beach. Relax until lunch. After lunch, we take the short walk to the lake and pop in for a quick dip. The sand floor of the lake is like quick sand, and each step you can feel you for sinking in. The rest of the time in by the yurts is delightfully relaxing, watching the horses migrate along the pasture, a rainstorm blows in for a few hours then clears spectacularly. Another spectacular sunset.Read more

  • Day7

    Kochtar

    July 8, 2017 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ☀️ 7 °C

    Wake up in our multi share. This is more house like, with a series of bedrooms and one bathroom for the ten of us. We have a quiet morning to relax, then head out at 11:30 for the market and then our women's co-operative felt making work shop. The market is a bit chaotic, almost like a Manhattan supermarket with crowded narrow aisles and locals trying to push you along so they can finish their shopping. From the market, we drive a few minutes to the co-operative and are shown to a shared area outside in the back. First a women with sword like instruments shows us how the sheep's wool is sliced down, almost like fruit ninja to tame it. We all give it a go round. Next, pulling the tufts, it is pulled in horizontal rows to make a rectangle. A set of vertical rows of tufts is layed on top of that. Then pieces of colored wool are layed on top to make a design. The design is rolled up like a sushi roll. A burlap cloth is rolled onto the roll and a strap tied around it. At this point we have been joined by a smiling, cherubic older woman who hugs each one of us. She demonstrates how water is poured on top of the roll, then picture Lucy and Ethel in the grape vat, we alternate dancing on top of the mat to squeeze out the water. This goes for a few rounds until the flattened felt is laid out to dry. We are then served a delicious lunch inside a yurt, soup, eggplant and tomato, dumplings, other courses. It's time to head up to Song Kul. We start up a mainly narrow dirt road, dodging pot holes and motorcycles and start through a series of switch backs as we climb from 5000 to 12000 feet. We take a few photo stops, see a few yaks, before reaching the yurt camps, preceding to ours at the base of lake song kul.

    Stunningly beautiful and peaceful, surrounded by yurts, horses and cows, wild flowers covering the Meadows in purples and blues and yellows. We divide into 2 yurts and are given some free time to wander and take pics. We have afternoon tea in an elaborately set table that we've become used to, with candies, dried fruits, breads and jams, cookies yak butter, honey and other assorted goods. More free time to wander then dinner and time to watch a spectacular sunset and rise of a full moon.
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  • Day6

    Karakol

    July 7, 2017 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    we wake to a cool breeze and birds chirping in our delightful guest house.  We are ringed by mountains and surrounded by flowers.  We sit for a communal table filled with fresh berries, baked goods and are served porrige, a fried egg, blinis and a fried cheese curd.  Delicious.  We set out for quick photo shoots at the wooden Russian Orthodox Church and Himalayan Temple like mosque, then it's off to the Nikolai Przthevalsky museum honoring a great Russian explorer.  The grounds are beautiful and we visit a statue honoring him as well as his grave site before climbing through a hole in the fence for a sweeping panoramic view of the surrounding countryside with the lake in the distance.  We step inside the museum and it's like a Russian Explorer's club, circa 1860. Blue silk walls, photos ring the room that contains a giant globe and one wall has map showing the routes of his expeditions.  A guide gives us a very detailed overview of his life.  We then begin the drive to kochkar via the lake that caused the border delay yesterday. A few hours into the ride. We stop and head to a rocky beach.  I dip my toes while others opt to swim.  Eat a picnic lunch which is fine except for the ants.  Head back in the van and stop to see a yurt making display.  We are taken through all the steps. From carving the wood, to shaping the posts. We give some assistance attaching the beams, then watch as the outside layers are added.  Our yurt builders are champions at the nomadic life world games.  We finish up and head to our homestay, passing a group of camels running by us.  We arrive at the delightful homestayRead more

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