Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan

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59 travelers at this place:

  • Day18

    Bisjkek

    August 15, 2019 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Ons tweede bezoek aan de hoofdstad veranderde ons beeld toch wat. Een hotel in een toffere buurt, een bezoek aan de authentieke (je vindt er geen souvenirs) Osh Bazaar en dé culinaire ontdekking van Kirgizië - Navat - deden ons de stad al wat meer appreciëren.

  • Day160

    Osh Tourism Festival

    August 17, 2019 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    When we arrived in Osh two days ago, we had every intention to simply get the car in good shape, stock up and straight away leave for the Pamir Highway again.
    Well, as usual, plans change. We staid at Sunny hostel (where we were allowed to only use facilities and sleep in the car in the carpark) and I saw a flyer for the Osh tourism festival immediately. A chance to see local culture and customs up close couldn't be missed.
    So Tom, I and the Kudliks (who had caught up with us at this stage) decided to stay for a few more days.
    And we weren't disappointed. After another day of getting things organised, we meet back at the hostel ("Visit Osh" for the last night in the city as part of the festival organisers had prebooked "Sunny") around 5pm and walk towards the festival ground. Police cars blocking the road and a few more scattered people than usual are the first sign of reaching the event.
    Amazingly, we've made it just in time: the silk road caravan, consisting of a few horsemen, a camel, two yaks and different groups displaying the various ethnicities of the region, is passing right in front of us. Music, smiles and waves and lots of pictures follow.
    Once the caravan and we reach the actual festival site, we get to watch crafts, performances and even a fashion show - whose stars were the grandmas displaying gorgeous, ethnic dresses and funny smirks. However, the real attraction seems to be, well, us. Foreigners. The tourists visiting Osh. We're being interviewed, photos are taken, videos shot. We hardly walk another two metres before someone else is excited to practice their English and in some cases their German with us. Suddenly, we're on the other side of the fence. We talk to locals, the volunteers at the festival (Osh's youth), the police commander and the Kudliks even get to meet the mayor. It's interesting to see how important tourism appears to be for this region and to which extent everyone wants to make us feel welcome.
    It culminates in two girls quickly approaching me in order to gift us some honey. Just like that. How sweet!
    All in all, I'd say the festival was not only a display of regional costumes and customs, but of the heartfelt hospitality that runs through the local people' veins. Definitely worth staying for a little longer in the city.
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  • Day174

    The sound of silence

    August 31, 2019 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

    Funny. The last few days, wind and the sound of rushing water were our constant companions. Now, nothing.
    We've left Tajikistan's beautiful rivers behind to return to Kyrgyzstan's stunning mountains (not that Tajikistan had been short of them, but here they are greener and more accessible). A few dozen kms after the border, we take a small path right through the village leading much much farther into the valley. We climb up now dried up grassy hills, drive past a few seemingly abandoned houses, slowly but steadily making our way to today's destination: a small, pristine mountain lake, hidden back here with no civilisation around it.
    We can't quite get down to the shore to park, hence we stay on a little plateau, overlooking the scenery. And then, nothing. No wind, no water, no animals nor insects nor birds. Night sets in and it's quiet. Weird. But beautiful!
    The next day brings visitors, returning wind, horses and cows and of course, insects. We're not alone in the world after all.
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  • Day173

    Border crossing Tajikistan - Kyrgyzstan

    August 30, 2019 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ☀️ 8 °C

    We spent way too little time in beautiful Tajikistan. But since we're running on a schedule, it couldn't be helped. At least we've seen the Wakhan and the Bartang valley and who knows, we might return!
    But for now our way leads us back to Osh. As the border a little further West is closed for foreigners unfortunately (meaning only Tajik and Kyrgyz people can cross), we are driving over the same pass, same border as a mere 10days ago. The way up to the Tajik side feels muuch longer, but Hans makes it and the procedures are as simple and straight forward as during the first time. We even manage to skip the narcotics officer again (this time he waves us past). Going down the pass in nomansland, we meet Dodiemo85 (follow them on Instagram). We had been following each other on social media as these two roam around in Central Asia as well, but we had no idea how close we were. Unfortunately, nomansland going in opposite directions is not the best place to meet, so we only have a brief chat. Would be lovely to meet them again though!
    Anyhow, Hans is getting low on fuel and we're keen on finishing this border business. Well, surprise at the Kyrgyz side: their internet is down and no passports can be processed. Now we know why the Tajiks still write everything by hand! Nothing can be done about it so we chat to fellow travelers for an hour or so. Once the system is up and running again, it takes about 20minutes for our passports to be checked and Hans's paperwork to be completed and we're back in Kyrgyzstan.
    It does feel a bit odd to drive the same road, but in the opposite direction. First time for us on this trip and I keep catching myself looking back to see if the view has changed, if there is more snow on the mountains, if I can glimpse something I haven't before. But then the views in front remind me that you never step in the same river twice. Pay attention to what's coming, it's beautiful!
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  • Day191

    Border crossing Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan

    September 17, 2019 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    This border crossing was a special one. Why? Well, we had just arrived back in Osh at 4.10am this morning! Tom and I had flown back to Germany for a few days to see friends and family and attend two weddings. After a super exciting and special time that really felt like a holiday from our overlanding journey, today was the day to be reunited with Hans again. Quite wonderful.
    We pick up the car at Vlad's garage, get a few last bushings fixed, fill up the tanks (both of them as we're not sure about Diesel in Uzbekistan), get the last few groceries and head for the border.
    We know it's not far out from the city, but yet we're surprised how quickly we reach it. The Kyrgyz side is bustling with market stalls and money exchange booths but before I can suggest to exchange some money, we're already at the front gate. Tom had simply passed the long line of trucks and no one seems to mind. Quite the opposite: once we're through the first gate cars are even asked to move so that we can proceed. Tourists definitely enjoy advantages here. Someone picks up our temporary import document for Hans, our passports are stamped through a side window so the we don't have to queue, a quick look into Hans and off we are towards the Uzbek side.
    Here, we're not separated for the first time and both Tom and I get our passports checked by the (very good looking) guy who processes the paperwork for drivers. Lucky me, the "normal" hall seems to be a beehive! Tom and I are witnessing loud shouting, long queues and general discomfort while waiting for our papers. In the customs area just in front, things are much calmer. Our passports are stamped quickly, Tom takes care of Hans's paperwork and I get the honour to lead through the customs inspection for the first time. The customs officer actually laughs with me as I present the spatula when asked if we carry any weapons. Besides not getting a temporary import document (let's hope we won't need it) and a bit of confusion if we can go or not (we needed to stop for the dogs again, but were quickly released thereafter) a very nice and smooth border crossing. All thanks to us being tourists. Being preferred felt weird but at the same time we were super grateful as the day had already filled out heads with so many thoughts and impressions I'm not sure we would have been able to handle any problems. So thank you, sweet people in line and border officers. Uzbekistan, we're ready for you.
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  • Day23

    Son-Kol

    June 7, 2019 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    The rain from the previous evening had dissolved into a sunny morning and with that, our trek to the beautiful Sun-Kol lake was confirmed. At 3013m altitude, the potential risks from snow and ice on the long windy road are real. One of the largest lakes in Kyrgyzstan, this remote location is also the go-to place for herders bringing their flocks to graze on the lush pastures between June and August.

    After stocking up on fresh lepyoshka (a wonderful tandori-baked bread), we set out on our long journey into the mountains. As we began our ascent, the snow line edged closer and before we knew it, we were right amongst it. So glad we'd packed those winter woolies! It was also hard to believe we'd been in 35 degrees only a week before!

    As we began our descent to the lake the valley opened out, with yurts scattered across the grassy steppe. Horses, sheep, goats and donkeys grazed and frolicked happily in the cool sunshine.

    Finally arriving at our yurt camp we spent time settling in to our accommodation, before a slightly wet lunch in a somewhat leaky yurt. As expected, the unpredictability of mountain weather meant we were treated to stunning clear skies and sunshine, interspersed with dark clouds and thunderstorms.

    The yurts proved to be highly civilised - we even had proper beds and enough bedding for us to snuggle under as the temperature dipped to zero (or lower).

    An invigorating walk to the site of several petroglyphs (rock drawings) also provided sweeping views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Snow melt no doubt generates significant flow along gravelly streams but the site of an aluminum boat part way up a dry stream bed still seemed a bit odd!

    It's hard to imagine how this experience could have been more perfect, but next morning's snow really was the icing on the cake (literally). It didn't deter Richard from his morning shave however! This was definitely a highlight of our Kyrgyzstan visit.
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  • Day22

    Horsing around

    June 6, 2019 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Getting anywhere in Kyrgyzstan takes time. While the main "highway" is in reasonably good condition, many of the roads are pot-holed, narrow, unsealed, frequented by slow drivers or large trucks, slippery from rain or snow - or all of the above.

    We farewelled the hotel moggie and canine and headed out with the intention of firstly visiting the 11th century Burana tower. However a change of plan to meet our schedule saw us arrive at a roadside field decked out with viewing platform. We were soon treated to a demonstration of 4 horse-based games that are part of a suite of sports played at the Nomad Games, a biennial event that attracts sports folk from around the world.

    The highly skilled horsemen introduced us to:
    1) tiyin-enish - where the rider tries to pick up tiny bags of coins from the ground while riding at full gallop;
    2) odarysh - where 2 riders on horses try to wrestle each other off their horses;
    3) koko buru (or buzkashi) - a game with 2 teams of 5 or 6 in which a headless dead male goat is snatched from the ground, with the rider then racing to a circular pit, hurling the goat in to score a goal, all the while trying to fend off opposition defenders who surround the riders horse;
    4) horse races - at full gallop.

    The skills of the horsemen were most impressive and even the goat-polo was enthralling (once you got over the squeamishness of the dead goat tossing). Apparently after the game the goat is cooked and is considered the best of meals!

    The horses are certainly put through their paces and were probably appreciative of the sedate pace they kept as we enjoyed a short ride. The horsemen were buzzing and any exchange of words was unnecessary to see the enjoyment they got from these activities.

    Burana Tower was of some interest, the stone totems even more so, but the rain dampened our enthusiasm for anything but lunch. By now we'd got used to the guest house meals - tables piled high with bread, jam and sweets. Salad, soup and a meat and vege dish - more than a usual Kyrgyz lunch or dinner and a bit too much for us also. But tasty and made with aroha.

    The remainder of the day was spent travelling to our overnight destination of Kochkor, with the odd photo stop along the way. Another guest house, another meal.

    Despite the late hour we agreed to a demonstration at the Women's Felt Co-op of the art of making shyrdak - the felted wool mats that are a trademark of Kyrgyz handicraft. Used in particular in the insulating of yurts, the process is time-consuming and the outputs beautiful. We couldn't resist.
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  • Day19

    Escape to Kyrgyzstan

    June 3, 2019 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ 🌫 3 °C

    After saying our goodbyes, Richard and I, and Wendy and Les from Perth, boarded our oversized bus for the long trip across the border, accompanied by our escort Kazim. Kashgar soon disappeared and before long we'd arrived at the first of 6 (yes 6!) security checks we'd need to negotiate before the border. Generally these were straightforward, although invariably there was some waiting until whichever officials decided to open the door/gate and/or issue appropriate paperwork and/or check our passports/scan our bags. It was most definitely a lesson in patience.

    Immigration proved most interesting. There were no other "customers " when we arrived but progress was slow as it seemed like they'd just opened. In addition to bags being scanned, our phones, cameras and iPads were scrutinized for dodgy photos, our guide books were skimmed and Richard's phone activity was accessed via an app they downloaded. We'd heard stories from other tourists of books being confiscated because they didn't show Taiwan as being part of China, so we were sort of prepared, but it was still a relief to finally reach passport control.

    Finally getting our passports stamped and stepping into "no man's land", we were subsequently ordered back to immigration about 30 minutes later, as one of our passports hadn't scanned properly. So much for fancy technology !

    Other than acting as delivery bus for a load of goods (and a border guard) bound for a security checkpoint, it was smooth sailing to the border gate. Travelling through the stunning Torugart Pass to reach our exit point, the winter woolies we'd packed once again proved their worth. Unfortunately our delayed arrived meant the guard that had the key to the gate was on lunch!

    It was oddly liberating to finally walk through the gate and meet our guide Nastacia and driver Vitali. A couple more security checks with some very friendly Russian-speaking guards and we were on our way (after another recall for more paperwork).

    The scenery was stunning - towering snow-capped mountains, bubbling streams and even a herd of yaks. It was breathtaking and reminded us of our own beautiful country (except for the yaks of course). First stop was Tash Rabat, a 15th century stone caravanserai hidden in a side valley off the main road at an elevation of 3200m. Restored in the 1980s, the stone interior includes a mix of larger rooms and numerous smaller rooms. which presumably served as accommodation. Apparently there is still some debate about what the function of Tash Rabat.

    Athough we'd had lunch on the bus trip, we welcomed a second late lunch in a nearby yurt (out of the cold). It was a delight to have a sandwich after weeks of noodles, rice and chilli! And not a plastic bag in sight, with lunchboxes proving just as effective. Before long we were back on the road, heading towards Naryn, our destination for the night. The sunshine and rain played with colours and shapes, providing us with a spectacular introduction to this beautiful country.

    Naryn proved to be a delightful town of friendly locals set amongst majestic mountains, with a mighty river running though it and a statue of a deer standing guard. It was a relief to be away from the constant noise, as well as the dust and the smells of the big city.
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  • Day21

    Bishkek

    June 5, 2019 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ 🌫 23 °C

    Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan. With a population of more than 1 million, it felt much smaller. This may have been due to our visit coinciding with Ramadan. The tree-lined streets, beautiful gardens, grand buildings and absence of high rises added to its overall charm. Bishkek's history is quite recent and indeed it only took on its current name after independence in 1991.

    We started the day with an exploration of the city, focusing on the 4 main squares. Each has it's own story and our guide provided an excellent commentary as we progressed our tour. First stop was Manas Square. Kyrgyz love their stories and perhaps the most famous of all is the Epic of Manas, a traditional poem of more than 500,000 lines, transmitted orally for hundreds of years. The text is key to Kyrgyz national identity, as it describes the unification of 7 tribes into a single people. There are quite a few versions and there is also no clear evidence this Manas fellow was real, but it makes for good story telling.

    As Nastacia was recounting this story, a uniformed man and 2 others in plain clothes approached us. Turns out they were tourist police- not to check up on us but to help us! Very friendly fellows and quite taken by our 2 younger females. Stories of bride-kidnapping came to mind!

    The remainder of the tour covered the Ala-Too square, with its change of guard; the Old Sqaure, with its beautiful stone sculptures and the Victory Square- the most modern. A yurt-inspired monument dominates the square, a female figure represents home and an eternal flame burns. The story of their efforts in World War 2 were told through this striking collection of works.

    Lunch at a local restaurant provided some respite from the heat, especially the spiced cherry lemonade- so good I ordered a second.

    A brief visit to the recently opened mosque (largest in Central Asia) provided another special experience. Beautifully decorated inside and out, the complex of white minarets and domes created a stunning picture.

    An equally brief visit to the local markets after a failed attempt at visiting the Fine arts museum and it was time for a rest before dinner. The rain that had threatened earlier bucketed down as we headed back to our hotel after dinner. A warning of says to come.
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  • Day20

    On the road to Bishkek

    June 4, 2019 in Kyrgyzstan ⋅ 🌫 15 °C

    Waking up to a cool morning, with the birds chirping and the river roaring, was pure bliss. After a tasty breakfast (and rather unusual music) we began the second day of travel that would lead us to Bishkek and the start of the Kyrgyzstan leg of our Silk Road trip.

    As we descended from the mountains, the valleys widened and the grasslands gradually replaced the steeper terrain, though the mountains continued their watch from afar. Yurts, caravans and food stalls dotted the landscape. Priority was clearly with horsemen and their stock, slowing passage and entertaining wide-eyed tourists. Tiny colourful mosques heralded the presence of a village or at least a gathering of sufficient numbers to justify the cost. Highly decorated Muslim cemeteries contrasted with the stark unnamed tombs we'd seen in Kashgar.

    "Would you like to stop for coffee?" Nastacia asked, much to our delight. A nearby petrol station offered half decent coffee and a shelf of vodka (if we were so inclined).

    Lunch was an interesting affair. We'd stopped at a hotel/restaurant/theme park, complete with a lake, old cars, sculptures made from car parts and tyres and sneaky white swans. The menu included horse meat, usually a speciality dish but clearly this place was targeted at the tourists.

    Finally arriving in Bishkek around 5 we were pleased to escape the confines of the bus. Meeting our group of 12 an hour later, the difference with our China tour group was evident, though not clearly definable. We were excited to take our next steps along the Silk Road.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Kyrgyz Republic, Kirgistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kirgisië, Kɛɛgestan, ኪርጊስታን, Kirguisistán, قيرغيزستان, Kırqızstan, Кыргызстан, Киргизстан, Kirigizisitaŋ, কির্ঘিজস্তান, ཁིར་གིཛ་སྟཱན།, Kirgizstan, Kirguizistan, Kyrgyzstán, Киргизи, Cirgistan, Kirgisistan, Kirgizstan nutome, Κιργιστάν, Kirgizistano, Kirguistán, Kirgiisi, Kirgizistan, قرقیزستان, Kirgistaan, Kirgiisia, Kirgisia, Kirghizistan, Kirgyzje, An Chirgeastáin, Quirguicistán, કિર્ગિઝ્સ્તાન, קירגיזסטאן, किरगिजस्तान, Kirgizisztán, Կիրգիզստան, Kyrgystan, キルギス共和国, ყირგიზეთი, Kirigizistani, Қырғызстан, គៀរហ្គីស្តង់, ಕಿರ್ಗಿಸ್ಥಾನ್, 키르기스스탄, قرغیزستان, Pow Kyrgys, Кыргыз Республикасы, Chirgisia, Kirigizisitaani, Kirgizië, Kigizisitá, ເດີກິດສະຖານ, Kirgiztanas, Kigizisita, Kirgizstāna, Kiordistan, Киргистан, കിര്‍ഗിസ്ഥാന്‍, किरगिझस्तान, ခယ်ကစ်စတန်, Kirgisien, किर्गिस्थान, Quirguizstan, କିର୍ଗିଜିସ୍ଥାନ, Quirguistão, Kirghisistan, Kirigisitani, Kirghizia, ڪِرگزِستانُ, Kirigizitùaan, Kirgizsko, கிர்கிஸ்தான், కిర్జిస్తాన్, Қирғизистон, คีร์กีซสถาน, Kekisiteni, Kırgızistan, Киргизия, قىرغىزىستان, Киргізстан, کرغستان, Qirgʻiziston, Ka-dắc-xtan (Kyrgyzstan), Kirgisän, Orílẹ́ède Kuriṣisitani, 吉尔吉斯斯坦, i-Kyrgyzstan

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