Friday, August 01, 2008

Kyrgyzstan take 2: by horse.

After another 6 hour marshuka ride, 4 hard-bargained apricots and a bag of apples, and a one hour taxi ride, we arrived at Kochor, the base town for our second trek. We found the CBT office, arranged a lovely home-stay and a 4 day horse trek.
Our room at our home-stay in the town of Kochor.

Our home-stay was at the edge of town, about a 30 minute walk. We got beautiful views and and wonderful room which we spent a lot of time vegging in, and the best meals we had in this country cooked by the grandma. There was no mutton involved (after I said "moo" to ensure that we got cow and not "baaa" sheep).

Day 1: Horse trek from town, over the mountain to a lake to our first yurt stay.

Leaving town on horse.
It was just Jane, me and our local guide, Aipek, who spoke no English but loved humming songs.

Me on my horse well into the mountains.

Coming upon Lake Song Kol that we've been yearning to set eyes upon.

Our first Yurt stay at last!
After 4.5 hours on horse over a mountain pass, we arrived at our yurt at around 4:30.
There were two guest yurts and one which the family stayed in and cooked out of. Our meals were all cooked by the family and served in the yurt. There were 9 of us staying in this yurt. We watched the locals play ball and milk the horses. I tried some fermented mare's milk - gross! Goat yogurt on the other hand was quite delicious. The mutton, not so much.

Look! Two boys on a donkey!

They came by to say hello.

Day 2: A cold brutal day by the lake.
Sure. It looks peaceful.

The FALL! Our guide had to go use the toilet and by toilet we mean duck behind a bush or a rock (We don't know why we keep saying toilet; there are none out here) . So we continued on. Suddenly my horse sprung into a gallop! Jane's horse followed gleefully. The command for stop unfortunately has a rolling "R" that I never quite mastered in Spanish class (who knew it would come back to haunt me!?). So we were going faster and faster, attempting to yell "Drrrrrrrr - ack! Drrrrrrr - ack!" ("STOP! STOP!"). Ugh - Why couldn't the stop command have been the simple "CHU!" which means go. Alas, that is NOT what I needed at the moment. Of course the horse only picked up more speed. I couldn't feel my hands or face because it's so cold.

Then my foot bounced out of the stirrup... and it was all over. No hope of staying on. I slow mode swung my leg around and made sure I can free the second foot so I don't get drag. Then I rolled off the horse and onto the hillside and after a few side tumbles, I ended sitting up. And my horse galloped off as I sat on the ground pondering what just happened.

Thankfully this day was only 2.5 hours to our next yurt stay. We arrived at 1 pm to a nice warm meal of fresh fried fish in the cold yurt. We stayed clear of our horses, needing a break.

Jane bundling up in the yurt. Mattresses and blankets are interchangeable. We just got under it all! And did basically nothing until we went to sleep at 8 pm.

Day 3: Into the mountain side to the isolated yurt.

We were off to our final yurt stay... It was a beautiful ride high into the mountains.

A local sheperding his flock.
These pastures are called, jailoos. It is where families bring their livestock, set up yurts and let them graze in the summer. It is way too cold to stay in the winter!

Inside Yurt #3: a four star yurt; the most elaborately decorated.
Felt walls inside. It stays warm in the cold and cool in the hot.
We had it all to ourselves too!

We arrived at 1, with nothing to do until sunset. Aipeck spent a good two hours trying to teach Jane and I a popular Kyrgyz card game, which we finally learned after Aipeck just kept saying either "yes", "no", "man" (for jack), "woman" (for queen) and six. Meanwhile, a goat came into our yurt. It was a hilarious fun-filled afternoon!

Jam. Jam. Jam.
This is what we survived on in the yurts! It was a staple, while some of the other food was questionable. So sweet and good. Sour cherry here was our favorite. Apricot was a good standard. When we asked what each one was, we were just told, "jam. jam. jam." I did OD on jams and have not been able to eat jam since then.

Our host family. The little girl (age 5), her uncle, another Kyrgyz, and the family goat, who peeked into our yurt!

The view from the yurt.

Our Kyrgyzstan host family at the last yurt. They were so friendly and hospitable, much like most of the locals we met.

Day 4: We trotted back to town, which was painful for me. At then end, the 4 days on horse were great, but I had enough horsey to last me for at least another 5 years.

The next day: back to Bishkek
The biggest problem we ran into in Kyrgyzstan? Cars! We heard or saw fatal car crashes everyday! That's what happens when there are no rules, seat belts and you buy your driver's liscence.
A nice local man enlisted an entourage to help find us a safe illegal taxi to get us the 3 hour drive back to Bishkek since there are no marshuka mini-busses that go. We were told to only get "audi" or "mercedes." The other cars would not make it. We got an audi, with a cracked windshield (that was not a requirement) and the car had to start with a jump wire, but it got us to our door in Bishkek alive!

One more night in Bishkek, where we finally secured our much searched for vernicke (potato dumplings; we got many other interesting things before), then off to the airport to the last stan!

Kyrgyzstan was absolutely amazing!!! Jane and I highly recommend it. It's definitely up there on our favorite traveled countries (and that has been a lot for both of us!). The country was breathtakingly gorgeous and the people wonderfully welcoming. It was everything we came for!

Now, for the last of the stans...

1 comment:

caroline said...

Cool! The Stans look like fun. I liked the pictures of you and Jane on the hike! What fun trips you take! Do you have more up your sleeve at the moment?