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Stan: Kyrgyz

Bishkek, Burana, Lake Sol, Tash Rabat

From Dushanbe, I 'cheated' a little and flew to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. I enjoy overland travel, but the land route would've taken nearly 3 days, and, in terms of Tajikistan, would have meant substantial backtracking north through Khujand again. So I chose to fly and maximise more time in Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek is a fairly well developed city, with much modernising going on. It has great resources - including excellent coffee - partly because Kyrgyzstan is the base for a lot of NGO, charity and international organisations in the region, as well as tourism.

I spent a couple of days relaxing in Bishkek, and seeing the sights, and I was also very lucky in meeting up with Steven who, along with his partner Saule, runs the amazing Central Asian travel website Caravanistan. Steven had actually been liaising with me prior to my trip and it was great serendipity meeting him in person in Bishkek. I was able to get a few more tips for my remaining time, and he introduced me to the unusual but tasty Kyrgyz stringy cheese snack enjoyed with beer! The beer consumed also.

Ruling the road

Ruling the road

Rather than negotiate multiple daily forms of transport around the country, I took the more convenient and efficient option and made travel arrangements with a company that took me on a big loop from Burana Tower in the north, to Lake Sol for two nights, and lastly down to an old stone caravanserai near the border with China. There was no hiking this time, but was a wonderful complement to Tajik scenery because Kyrgyz is also mountainous, but green. So very green. Lush valleys throughout, and equally pristine beauty.
Just beyond Song Kol lake

Just beyond Song Kol lake

Yurts nestled together

Yurts nestled together

Lake Sol is dotted with yurts, and I stayed in a yurt each night of this trip. The first night I did wake up extremely cold, but I learnt my lesson after that, securing plenty of blankets the next two nights. There were more tourists in Kyrgyzstan, although not overly busy when I was there. The Kyrgyz host families were all very lovely and accommodating, not to mention that the freshly baked bread on the first night was one of the most delicious breads I've tasted. Meals were simple but tasty: usually bread, jams, eggs, noodle soups and a plate of sliced tomato and cucumber. The drive itself gave stunning views, for example, during the drive to the caravanserai in the south, the dramatic, ice-covered Tian Shan mountains penned us in on the east like a giant wall, the natural border with China.
Tash Rabat caravanserai

Tash Rabat caravanserai

Valley of Tash Rabat

Valley of Tash Rabat

Koshoy Korgon fort

Koshoy Korgon fort

After the tour, I had one more day back in Bishkek before continuing to Kazakhstan.

Posted by ksbacon 01:58 Archived in Kyrgyzstan

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