11-19 June Kyrgyzstan to the Silk Road

It’s hard to believe its been nine days since my last update…Sorry!

Actually, there hasn’t been many opportunities as WiFi is not everywhere. Anyway, I’m now in OSH, Kyrgyzstan, an ancient town on the Silk Road.

That sounds romantic doesn’t it….I’ve had some adventures and ridden through some spectacular scenery….and yes, Azulo has behaved like a perfect gentleman!

This will be a BIG post as there is lots of photos and things. I hope you don’t get bored!

Almaty to Bishkek was a pleasant ride through a valley with snow capped mountains in the distance DSCN0331 Customs was amazing.

Kyrgyzstan unlike all the other “Stans” was a breath of fresh air…No Visa required and no unnecessary stamping of bits of paper and long waits. I was through in 10 minutes!

I found a delightful Hostel near the centre of Bishkek called Intercity

Bishkek is quite a pleasant town with tree lined streets and the usual “impressive” square with the statue of Lenin of course!

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The man himself …Again. Yes, Lenin

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Soviet MIG Fighter

I think all these countries have virtually identical Parliament buildings. Somebody must have got a Job Lot!. DSCN0315 DSCN0318  DSCN0325   DSCN0321

I had to get my Visa for Tajikistan in Bishkek.

If you remember I had spent 10 hours of pure chaos at the Uzbekistan Embassy, so  I arrived early. Infact I arrived an hour before the place opened.

There was nobody there and when the Embassy opened an hour late I got the visa in 15 minutes!

The Hostel had two lovely helpful girls. I needed a massage for my poor old back. One of the girls, Kumbat, arranged a massage. I got a Taxi. The driver had no idea where the place was and got totally lost. Eventually I got there!….

The place was empty and they were very pleased to have a customer.

The masseur…..another member of a Weight Lifting team pounded away on my poor back and was horrified at the number of knots he found. He was groaning away saying OH NO each time he found another knot! I’ll have to have a big make over when i get home!

Funnily enough, I’ve noticed that in the last couple of weeks people have been asking my age…..Now, WHY IS THAT? Perhaps I’m looking haggard or something! It’s a bit of a worry! I’m sure I don’t look THAT old…do I?

Kumbat got her Koala of course!

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In the Hostel there was an American guy who was living there having studied in Ireland for a year and decided to teach in Kyrgyzstan. He kindly invited me to join himself and the Hostel Girls for tea. There was nobody else there and he was cooking.

Well, I thought that was nice although I had located a nice looking Italian place for dinner!

He said “we’ll eat at 7.00” Fine but by 9.00 we still hadn’t eaten! Very strange. Anyway I said i couldn’t wait any longer and was about to leave when a strange concoction of mince arrived. I should have gone to the Italian place shouldn’t I!

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The next day, I set of for Kochkor about 230 K away

In Kochkor I arranged a trip to a “Lake Song-Kol”, which is high in the mountains..To get there I had to take a 4 wheel drive. (All up including Driver, Yurt, Dinner and Breakfast cost $75

I stayed by the lake in a Yurt with a family. Actually they weren’t particularly friendly which was unusual….Too many tourists i suppose. A bit of a shame as I was the only person there and  I felt a bit like a shag on a rock. They are usually SO friendly here that I was surprised how off hand they were.

The place however was spectacular. The  photos say it all I think.

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Inside my Yurt

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Incidentally, Merry beamed down on the “Live Map” page and could actually see the Yurts! Amazing

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You even find ESSENDON supporters here!

As you see….Even here there are ESSENDON supporters!

The road to the Lake was beautiful and above the snow line
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After returning to Kochkor I had a decision to make…Do I ride through the mountains to the OSH-BISHTEK Highway or do I return to Bishkek to pick up the road

.I was a bit worried about this road as my ribs still hurt a bit and I really don’t want to ride very bad roads. I asked a number of people about the road and whether it was good or bad and whether it was asphalt or mud!……you NEVER rely on ONE person….. All but one person (I asked about six people!) said the road was good and asphalt. The lady in in the Tourist place in Kochkor spoke fluent English and assured me the road was excellent and asphalt all the way.

So off I rode confidentally expecting and easy ride.

WELL…..it turned out that within 30 miles the road disintegrated and became a goat track of the worst kind! Gravel, mud, sand, loose pebbles …the lot!

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Actually the photos dont make it look that bad…i must point out, just in case you think I’m exaggerating about the roads… One doesn’t actually think of taking a photo when the road is really bad and you’re trying not to fall off! These photos were taken for scenery, not the road!

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WHY do people tell you what you want to hear not the truth?

Worse still, the road meandered along the sides of a sandy Canyon with a fast flowing river about 60 meters  below…Very scary!.

It was beautiful though , not that I could really appreciate it

After only 170 K I had had enough and found a funny little guest house in a little place called Kyzyl – Oy.

The owners were Naiza and his wife Tanya. It was very humble but a nice comfy place and they were very sweet and fussed over me giving me tea and home made bread and jam. There was no running water and the electricity was from a generator but it was lovely after such a hard ride.

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The next day I had another 50 k of the horror road before i made the main Highway.

What a relief The good thing was that I was on reasonable asphalt but the bad thing was that the rain set in! It poured cats and dogs all day. At one point the road goes over a pass about 4000 m…..well above the snow line

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I packed it in in a place called Toktogul and found a Hotel of sorts. It was TERRIBLE.

It was the worst place I’ve stayed in yet. It smelt and nothing worked I wondered what I was doing here when I could be home in my nice house in Beaumaris with Merry!

This was the first time on the trip I was more than a bit down… Then, things changed suddenly!

There was a noisy group just below my window making a hell of a noise. That was all I needed! I went downstairs and intended going for a walk to find something for tea.(no food in this classy establishment)

Anyway, this bloke came up to me and asked me to join the party! I had nothing to lose so i agreed. There were about 12 of them…They were aged about 50 and it turned out they were a group of school friends celebrating 35 years since the left school.

They sat me down and filled me with Vodka and insisted i dance with all the ladies.

I retired to bed thoroughly tipsy at about 1.30. It was great fun and my bad day ended happy!

The next day was beautiful and i had a lovely ride (with a hangover)  to Osh . .

The road runs around a beautiful Reservoir and through different landscapes from barren mountains to fertile valleys. The sun was shining all day…so different to yesterday!

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I reached Osh around five and found a fabulous Guest House called LADA’S Guesthouse. Lada is Russian and quite delightful

The only problem is the WiFi is bad and I’m having all sorts of trouble with this post!

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Osh itself is an ancient city, older than Rome apparently. It is on the Silk Road but frankly there isn’t much silk here. It has a huge Bazaar, the biggest and oldest in Central Asia. It also has an extraordinary mountain that overlooks the City. Mohammad apparently visited

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Me in a Traditional Hat

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The next photo shows winter boots ….they are fur lined but they put on an overshoe for the wet

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The next photos show a baby’s  cot. They cover them up at night with beautiful covers that actually make them look like coffins!

They put a little pot inside the cot and they have little wooden pipes for the baby to piddle through…one for a boy and one for a girl!… You really wonder how they get the babies to piddle into those little pipes!

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Just a couple of photos of Osh street life

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Osh is interesting in that 40% of the population is actually Uzbek. There are racial tensions here and they flared up as recently as 2010 when over 200 people died. Was that reported in our news? I can’t remember?

It all goes back to the Soviet era under Stalin.They divided up the country into Administrative Regions without much notice taken of the racial mix. They also populated the regions with ethnic Russians that were given land.

So today, you have these countries with divided populations. Ukraine is a case in point!

I haven’t done much here. I got Azulo serviced, walked around and went to the Bazaar and frankly I’m having rather a nice rest!

I leave here on 20th for the PAMIR MOUNTAINS of TAJIKISTAN. I’m taking a four day 4 wheel drive trip through the mountains. They are meant to be spectacular. Fingers crossed the weather is OK

After that, I head for Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

 

 

 

 

 

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