So much to see and talk about. Enjoy
Monday 1 September
While the local school children returned to school for the first day of the school year, we headed out of Bishkek for the resort area of Issyk Kul. Felt rather sorry for them in their pristine white shirts and ties and long black pants, considering the forecast for today was 30 + degrees.
It was all going well when we came across a police road block. Soon after there was a flurry of police cars, quickly followed by some smart black vehicles, all heading our way. Unfortunately not our escort. What followed next, resembled something like the starting grid of formula one race, much jostling for positions from all the traffic that had been stopped.
Back on track we visited the Burana Tower, built ~11 to 12 century . The climb to the top of the tower was quite a challenge, once inside the tower it was pitch black, apart from a slit window halfway up the tower. Coming down was just as challenging. In islamic times was used to call followers to pray. Apparently it was part of a larger complex.
The adjoining area consisted of pictorial headstone collected from the surrounding area. Some looked decidedly recent.
We had travelled part of this road before on our trip to Naryn and had observed that there seemed to be much duplication in the roadside stalls. There were several stalls selling the same produce, whether it be lumps of dried cheese, melons, apples and dried fish.
The trip to view the petroglyphs was a non-event as they had suffered over time and were almost unrecognisable. But we were quite entertained by the unofficial drag race down the disused airstrip, complete with flagman waving the start. After a short pause one car started off, the other missed the start altogether.
Our accommodation is a resort with private beach on the shore of the lake, so we could not miss the opportunity to “take the waters”. Cooler than Aquarena at Doncaster, it took Ewen considerable time to submerge himself. With an elevation of 1600+m, swimming was quite a challenge aerobically. We are now becoming more familiar with the local cuisine, lagman (noodles), a rice dish, and assorted dumplings & ofcourse tea. Tonight’s dinner at the resort cafe cost us the princely sum of approx $16.
Tuesday 2 September
We were most intrigued with the wifi set up at Three Crowns holidays resort. There were several located along the fence directed at each of the blocks of units.
The first stop today was the cultural centre. Five buildings all in a circle, representing the five spiritual influences in Kyrgyzstan, Buddhism, Kyrgyz paganism, Islam, Orthodox & Catholic. We were introduced to many of the Kyrgyz “heroes”, artists, writers, politicians & philosophers. Incredibly well manicured lawns, spied someone clipping around the rocks with hedge clippers. Tree of knowledge, the frog with the pearl of wisdom, eggshell artwork & wood carving, bronze sculptures. We also visited a display yurt, and being female got relegated to the side of the yurt with all the pots and pans. Well worth the visit.
Another 150 km of tarred road with many patches and we reached the second largest town in Kyrgyzstan – Karakol.
We visited the Prevzalsky museum situated on the shore of the lake. Prevzalsky was a Polish scientist funded by the Russians who mapped an extensive area in Central Asia and documented the local flora and fauna. He succumbed to a waterborne disease and is buried here. Like Shackleton he is buried where he did most of his work.
We also visited the local mosque (in the style of a Japanese pagoda), where again gender rules apply and I had to wear a purple coverall. Beautiful carpets in the mosque.
Also visited a local church, but they saw us coming and locked the door. Intricately carved woodwork around the gables and doors.
I eventually got my picture of school children. They were playing hide and seek. They looked immaculate in their school uniforms.
We took in the sites of local zoo, animal rescue centre (actually). they receive no government funding, a few kyrgyz horses, owls, porcupines, a very lonely bear, deer, monkeys, snow leopards, chooks and sheep.
To wind down after a very busy day we dined at an outdoor restaurant. The wine list featured red Chardonnay (which seemed a contraction ). It received the seal of approval from the red drinkers amongst us.