Friday, August 01, 2008


We took a marshuka (small white mini bus) from the station in Almaty the scenic 4.5 hours across the border into Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Smooth ride and no problems crossing the border. Whew!

We basically winged our itinerary in Kyrgyzstan, using our lonely planet book and the amazing CBT (community based tourism) offices in each town. You can't really plan in advance (buses leave when they are full, treks go when you can find a guide, etc). But, it was actually amazingly easy country to travel because of this well built network of community tourism. Our main goals were to trek the country side, stay in a yurt and ride a horse.

The concrete square and water fountains in the center of the city.
We were getting used to these sights in the stans. We thought this one may pass for a Lincoln Center type place, but not quite.

Spooky! Weird things in the main park.

We happened to walk through this park while trying to find our B&B so naturally we had to come back and explore. Why are there all these scary looking rides and why are they wrapped up?

We were only in Bishkek for the afternoon to get our flights out of Bishkek to Tashkent, and also figure out how to get to our next destination in Kyrgyzstan.

This small town was a mere 8 hour bus ride from Bishkek. The route went along Lake Issykol, the most famous and beautiful lake in Kyrgyz. We stopped many times along the way picking up locals and their cargo and dropping them off a few towns away.

When we arrived at around 4pm, we headed to the CBT office who put us in touch with the local guides to organize treks. After a night in a guesthouse, the next day, we were off with a small group, our own personal local guide and porter on a 3 day trek to the glaciers and alpine meadows.

Day 1

A soviet van.
We rode this not so comfortable but durable van to the base of the trek. It bumped along precariously. We were asked, "Is this your first time in a soviet van?" uhh... yes!

Mitlan (our porter), me and Ikuloo (our guide)
Our first night we camped by Lake Aloo. It was COLD! Thankfully we were able to by hats (domas) from the local market before the trek.

We set up tents each night and cooked and ate food that we packed - nutella, bread, dried fruit, rice, and the infamous meat stick! (When asked if we eat meat, Jane automatically replied, "Is it horse?" Turns out we don't eat horse, nor do we really like mutton.)

Day 2: the Glacier pass
The Glacier pass
I saw it and thought, "how are we supposed to get up that?" But we did. I just kept thinking the whole way up, "I'd rather be dancing! I'd rather be dancing!" I am so not an endurance person. I am all about short, sweet and powerful, hence gymnastics, diving and dance and not running and swimming! This was definitely trying for me!

We made it!

View of the Glacier and the lake from the top.
It was definitely worth it!

What goes up must come down. The opposite of the pass was just as tricky. I kept thinking I should invest in some hiking shoes! I just kept sliding down the pebbles and rocks!

Jane resting after lunch.
After the pass we were exhausted and hungry!

Alpine meadows.
The rest of the afternoon was peaceful as we strolled through the rolling meadows mingling with the livesotck.

It was exactly what we imagined.

Our second night, we pitched our tent near a little house and camping ground which actually had an outhouse and some water running out of a pipe from the river.

Day 3:
Headed back to town. We were pretty dirty and tired of the meatstick, dried fruits and bread that kept appearing at the meals. It was fun, but a shower was much needed!
Me pointing to the sign that said New York in the middle of nowhere Kyrgyzstan.
There were also signs to Tokyo and the local Yurt.

Back in town:
We showered, got our clothes washed, ate a nice dinner and slept well in our leopard print beds. We arose the next morning before 7 to check out the animal market.

Lady and her bull.
Cows, goats, sheep and horses. All for sale. We saw many transactions being pondered.
Mitlan and his friend.
Mitlan, our porter for the last 3 days, found us since we obviously stood out from the crowd. His family was trying to buy a horse. He introduced us to his friends and let me take their horse for a ride.

Now, we were off to the next destination: Kochor.

1 comment:

sharock said...

i wanna do this hike!