Friday, August 08, 2014

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan

We are nearing the end of our two weeks in Kyrgyzstan, most of the time spent well away from any computers with access to the internet which means a bit of a catch-up blog from our guesthouse in the southern city of Osh where we are spending a couple of relaxed days.

Our itinerary has been as follows:

24 July - flight to Istanbul with onward connection to Bishkek

25 July - arrive in Bishkek, Fred without his luggage, taxi to our hotel - Asia Mountains 1, with ots charming gardens and swimming pool, not to mention very friendly staff. Walk into the city where we spend most of our time at the Oimo cultural festival, full of handicrafts, song, dance and traditional costumes. Beer and dinner with a French lady at Edgar's, sitting outside in the nearby park

26 July - we arrange a lift to Karakol in the east, which is about 400 kms away, leave a bit late after a refreshing swim. Stop off at the Burana Tower near the city of Tokmok and follow the Chui valley to the lakeside town of Balikchy. Lunch at Cholpon Ata (but not near the lake, so no swim) and then a rushed drive through to Karakol as it was getting late and the driver did not want to stop anymore. Arrive at the disappointing Turkestan Yurt Camp where we sleep in a yurt. Look around for money but all the ATMs only take Visa and we only have Mastercard, eventually change some Euros for Som at a hotel which is enough to buy us some dinner. Meet some friendly people working at the Karakol Coffee House and they tell us that the Demir Bank has just opened near the Post Office and that this uses Mastercard, as well as advising us to go to Stealth for a good meal, which we do.

27 July - early rise to go to the weekly livestock market (sheep, cows and horses), the most impressive, of course, being the horse market, well worth making the effort to being in Karakol on a Sunday morning, which explains our rapid exit from Bishkek the day after arriving. We find the Post Office and the Demir Bank and stock up with Som (70 to the Euro) and then go looking for a festival which I had read about on Facebook before leaving, supposedly in Ak-Suu. We take a taxi there and it is a pleasant ten minute drive along the valley to Al-Suu but when we arrive there is no sign of a festival and no-one knows anything about it. We walk around the villlage and find the impressive wooden Russian Orthodox Church and meet some German speaking religious fanatics from Kazakhstan there and then  take the minibus back to Karakol. There we go to Karakol Coffee and borrow the chap's i-pad and find out that the festival is in Box-Uchuk in the municipality of Ak-Suu, so thanking him, we take a taxi to Boz-Uchuk but still no festival. The taxi driver asks one person after another and is finally told that we need to head for the hills to find the festival and after 15 minutes on bumpy and dusty roads we finally find it. Here was the Kyrgyz village festival in a beautiful valley, with a number of colourful yurts, twenty colourful horsemen, a number of handicraft stalls and a number of people in traditional costumes who would sing and dance. And, even better still, no other tourists. A wonderful relaxed atmosphere, with plenty of time to take photos and be dragged into the yurts to taste the food which had been prepared. This consisted of pieces of fried dough, bread, fresh fruit jams of mostly raspberries, fermented mare's milk, lamb's intestines, soup and so on. The horsemen rode around and performed various tricks, including standing in their stirrups. The highlight would have been the performance of the black steed song, with young and old dancing away with the weirdest movements we have seen since Eritrea. I will upload the charming video I took.

28 July - After leaving our yurt, we went along to the Eco-Tours office on the main street where the charming young lady arranged for a vehicle to take us up the Ak-Suu valley to Altyn Arashan. This was an old military vehicle, all battered and bruised with holes in the floor, driven by the Russian Sergey. It had to be tough as the two hour journey was along some of the toughest roads we have ever had to deal with as the road followed the fast flowing river coming down off the snowy mountains, along a valley floor surrounded by pine trees and wild flowers. Up and up and round and round we went until we finally came to our destination, a few buildings on the riverside, in a clearing in the forest. We decided to stay in the middle guesthouse as we could have a room to ourselves as well as have use of the local hot springs ( a bath of very hot water in a shed by the river)

29 July - walk up to the beautiful jailoo

30 July - back to Karakol, visit Jety-Oguz by myself

31 July - day in Karakol, visiting market and mosque

1 August - hitch a lift to Bokonbaevo, check into Clara's guesthouse

2 August - Apricot Festival on beach at Ton

3 August - walk up the mountains, thunderstorm

4 August - national horse games, buy two shyrdaks, take busses to Balikchy and Kochkor

5 August - go up to Song-Kul Lake

6 August - back down from Song-kul, taxi to Bishkek

7 August - up early for flight to Osh, visit market

8 August - After our early start of the day before we decided to treat ourselves to a later start, breakfast at 8.30 plus a couple of hours on the computer in my room writing up this blog. We then leave the guesthouse without much of a plan and go first to the right along Lenin Street to have a look at some Commie buildings. The Kyrgyz are quite pro-Russian and are quite proud of their Communist past with its Lenin statues and hammers and sickles, so a lot to be seen. Eventually we wind our way back to the market and we meet up with our honey man Evgeny, who asks if he could bring us to a beauty spot outside Osh where he likes to go swimming in the river. We meet up again at 4, expecting to go for a swim, but it was just a nice drive up the valley to take a few pictures of the gorge and the fast flowing mountain river before stopping off again on the way back to get our feet wet and splash some of the cold mountain water on our faces. Back for some more blog and now it is time to have a shower and go out for dinner at the same place as we ate last night.

9 August - return to Bishkek

10 August - return to Istanbul and home

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Time for some gorgeousness

And now for some gorgeousness

Pretty girls, as seen at Royal Ascot.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fish 'n Chips for all

Golden Fish n Chips

We had a great package at Windsor. 25 pounds for entrance to the Grandstand, a meal voucher and 5 pound drinks voucher. We all went for fish 'n chips and the quality was really good. So, some things do change for the better...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Charles with his girls

Charles with his girls

It was time for another Accountants Meeting and this time we spent two days in Ascot, with an evening out at Windsor races. It was a beautiful warm summer's evening and  thank goodness they ahve not changed Windsor racecourse. It was a wonderful occasion and everyone really enjoyed the opportunity to taste some traditional English way of life and spend some social time with their colleagues.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

England go out (again)

The White Hart in Catle Cary

Without hardly a whimper. They could have beaten Italy but didn't. And they should not have let Uruguay score two goals against them.

However, looking at the other teams such as Iran in their match against Argnetina, one can see that England did not really deserve to progress.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bao's Lung Fei Tai Chi exhibition at Castle Cary

Friday, June 20, 2014

Estimate, the Queen's horse, who came second in the Ascot Gold Cup

The Queen's horse Estimate seen here just after coming second in the Ascot Gold Cup, having won it the previous year,

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dressed up for Holland vs Australia

Three for Oranje

Holland beat Australia 3-2.

I had my friends around to watch the match after which Fred served us a delicious chicken vindaloo which he had prepared from raw spices on the Monday before.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Charles at 53

Charles at 53

Posing for a traditional photo on the balcony, this time in suit and tie.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Last weekend at The Derby

At The Derby

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Now it's England's turn...

Three cheers for England, from Brasov

Hoping that the young squad assembled for England at least play attractive and attacking football this evening.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The orange people are coming...

Holland start their World Cup today, with a match against Spain, so time for some orange.... And 5-1? What a thrashing! Wonderful revenge for four years ago and maybe this is the end of that dreadful ticky-tacky football we have been forced to endure over the last few years...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Published in Georgia!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

And then having the delightful Sergey to stay

Back at Blijburg
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