We just finished our cycling, taxi and tramping journey through beautiful Kyrgyzstan. Much greener than Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan in the summertime is a giant, mountainous field of fat bottomed sheep.
From Osh, in the South (where ethnic riots between local Uzbeks and Kyrgeze burnt half the city last year), we headed North towards the 3000m alpine lake Song Kul by bike and taxi. On my birthday, we rode up an amazing switchbacky pass (less amazing for Andrew who had gastroenteritis) to the lake, and slept in a yurt surrounded by horses, mountains and one camel. I ate boiled sheep’s udder.
Down from Song Kul, we cycled around giant Issy Kul lake, picking apples and apricots along the way. We joined a family picnic at one beach, sharing watermelon and smoked fish and vodka and swimming in the warm water. The people we met were always friendly and generous. Afterwards they all piled into their Lada, the most inebriated party member at the wheel. The driving here is seriously scary.
We ditched the bicycles for four days in Karakol, and went tramping in the rain and snow and hail to another lake (lakes and lakes and lakes).
Lastly, Bishkek, the capital city. Like the rest of Central Asia that we have seen, it is a strange mix of Asia (colourful, hectic) and ex-Soviet (crumbling, grey, stern). Terrible techno is played constantly (with lyrics like “I have a phone, I’m all alone, I want to SMS you… SMS SMS SSMS) and you can buy shots of vodka or fermented wheat drinks on every corner.
Now we are in Kazakhstan. Home to Spain in three days.