Saturday, June 11, 2011

Karakol Capers, Altyn Arashan and some serious Mountains

I have spent the last few days in the east of northern Kyrgystan and it's certainly an amazing part of the region. Karakol is a bit of a mountain-frontier town at the eastern end of the Lake Issyk Kol. This large lake in itself is amazing - 170km long and up to 70km wide, the second largest alpine lake in the world.
It was a six hour bus ride here past the northern edge of the lake. The town isn't amazing, but is full of houses from a different era, and has a bit of a rural France feel about it. This wooden church (above) was something special. Lots of friendly and helpful people about the place.

 On Wednesday I headed out to a place called Jeti Ogutz, where some red-coloured rocks adorn the scenery. Somewhat out of place here, they stand out. They are more like something from central Australia. Generally the scenery here reminds me of Europe, something like Romania. Most people are Kyrg. in descent, but like Kazakhstan there is a real Russian influence especially in architecture. The above rock formation is called the 'broken heart'. Easy to see why.
Yesterday I took a jeep up to a place called Altyn Arashan, a valley with a few houses/buildings there. Stunning scenery too, real Kyrg. rural life on display. Hot springs as well prove popular with the locals. I stay in a ramshackle house with some real character. I group of Kyrg. tourists arrived last night and well, there was eating and drinking as one can imagine. I escaped lightly only having three vodkas and three glasses of surprisingly good Moldovon Sauvingnon Blanc. The only issue I had with the place was the outdoor pit toilets, but theres no water pumps and no electricty, so what could I expect?

I hiked around 15km back towards Karakol nearly to the sealed road where I got a taxi back to my guesthouse. Tomorrow I head to Bishkek again, Sunday to Tashkent in Uzbekistan. It has been brilliant in Kyrgystan and I realise why it was orginally the number one place I wanted to visit in Central Asia. All I can say now is, I hope to return someday!

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