Crossing the Torugart Pass; Tash Rabat
Part 1: Back in the Yurt Camps
Part 2: Issyk Kul and Kyzart Village
Part 3: Jeti Oguz, Karakol, Cholpan Ata
Aside from that Bishkek was pretty nice.
We woke up in the Chon Kemin CBT guesthouse to the wifi not working. Since this was the day we were going to actually drive to the capital city, we finally switched on the privileged yoot section of our brains that we had turned off for so long in the wilderness and righteously complained (to each other; we're not monsters) about the lack of modern-day amenities. Entering a yurt for breakfast while totally unaware of what happened in the world overnight?! Who does that? Besides literally everyone who lives in yurts, I mean.
Breakfast was a heavy fried dough calzone type thing filled with potato, so not exactly the kind of thing that sets me off feeling great for a day. I wish I could have refused but yurt lady would not allow people to even refuse to drink tea! Old yurt ladies are not to be messed with! So I tried to eat some and pretended to drink my tea all while looking around the table for my missing friend, the watermelon. Arbus! Arbus where are you?
Next up was a legit tourist attraction, the Burana Tower, which is a big minaret from the 9th century. The original tower was severly damaged by earthquakes over the years (omg there are earthquakes here?) and restored in the 1970s. You might be thinking that those renovations not so long ago mean that the tower was reconstructed with modern audiences in mind, but you would be wrong. Climbing to the top of the tower, which is the thing to do if you are able-bodied, is a legit shitshow. Hold on here's a picture first.
So, you know, not, like, gorgeous.
Going down was awful, since you couldn't see (even if there was light, it was too squashed) what your feet were reaching for as your hands did their best not to let go. But finally we were back on solid ground. The rest of the Burana site had a few small museums with artifacts uncovered in the area and some ancient stone statues, probably for fertility or war.
But of course my favorite statue had to be the requisite GIANT LENIN that every once-Soviet city must flaunt.
The supermarket, and Kyrgyz minimarts, also had this amazing chocolate popcorn that happened to be accidentally vegan. We ate the shiiiiz out of that.
Full with TWO different kinds of protein, my bag stocked with crazy socks, beans, and popcorn, I was pretty happy with our first day in Bishkek. That first night's sleep in the hotel was amaze.
For our last day in Kyrgyzstan, Sacha picked us up early to drive us to Ala Archa National Park. Forget Ulan Ude, Ala Archa is the REAL way Russians say "Alan Alda". Ala Archa (which is pronounced, at least by Sacha, with an amazing elision so it's more like 'alarcha') is an alpine park about an hour's drive from Bishkek. It's still part of the Tien Shan mountain range, can you believe how big that range is?! Still since China! The park is mainly the gorge from the Alarcha River and all the pretty mountains for trekking and hiking and climbing and just general wanderingment.
Tomorrow we leave for Kazakhstan! Mah wife!