Traveling to Ysyk Kul Lake in Kyrgystan

Back on the road again, we are driving between two mountain ranges that belong to the Tien Shan Range in Kyrgystan. The Palmir range is far to the South.  As we drive East, the mountains on the right side, known as the "Sunny Mountains," are snow covered, the same beautiful snow covered mountains that we could see from the windows of our hotel in Bishkek. The mountains on the left are called the "Shady Mountains."

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We just received news that the area where we will be spending the night has had snow. Thank heaven our local guide is my size and had an extra jacket which she brought for me to wear while we are up here. Back home before I started this journey, I checked the weather on the weather channel. There was no discussion of cold weather in this part of the world.

As we drive, our guide provides us with facts about the area. The lake has high waves, up to one meter (about 3 feet).

We are now going through 800 meters of Kazakstan and by the time I have written this we are back in Kyrgystan. The borders since the Soviets left are truly screwed up by politics. At least this time we did not have to go through customs or take a 50 mile detour as we did when we drove from Tashkent to Ferghana so we would not go through Tajikistan.

We just pulled into a gas station for a pit stop. There was a tiny white building off to the side through some weeds. The doors to it only came up to our shoulders and the odor was truly ripe so all of us aimed for the weeds behind the little white shed. One person went one direction, I went the other. I should have followed the other. Somewhere along the way I managed to step in dung (human or animal, I have no idea.) Luckily there were rain puddles around and I finally got it all off and was allowed back on the bus. It seems if there’s going to be any, I’m going to find it.

We are driving through  a snow dusted area. But the mountains on either side have quite a bit of snow. A steam train is moving along the base  of the mountain in the distance. Clouds cover the mountains on one side though the sun is trying to come out.  Olga, our guide, calls the mountains “Chocolate Mountains.” We are reaching the Lake area. The few mountains that are not covered look black and extremely rocky. The Chu River that comes from the glaciers rushes along the base of the mountains in what appears to be number four rapids. We drive very slowly through the narrow road as we pass through a gorge and stop with the other tour buses for a picture moment.  Some local women are there and insist on my taking their picture. This has become a common occurrence. They like to have their pictures taken and love to see how they look. I wish I had a Polaroid camera. I would like to be able to give them their photographs.

Back on the bus, the road we are travelling is new, having been built recently by the Chinese for the trucks that still drive it the same as they did when the silk road was a bustling highway. This road is smoother so I can write more easily. Instead of billboards line the highway, advertising is written on the mountains in large colorful graffiti-like lettering, but most of it is now covered with snow.

I will never again believe either the Weather Channel or Frommers. According to both, the weather here was supposed to have lows in the 50s and highs in the 60s. It started snowing as we moved a little further into the interior of the valley, away from the Lake. Apparently we are having Lake effect snow like we have around Lake Michigan. My feet are cold, even with socks. ( The socks are short and I would really like a pair that goes up to my knees). I’m wearing three layers, a light weight long sleeve turtle neck, a short sleeve T shirt, and my heavy Irish zip up cardigan. It is NOT enough.

In the fields, the horses, sheep and cattle are getting snow covered along with the mountains and the valley. The horses are short and stocky. According to our guide, these are not the original Kyrgyz horses which were very strong but not fast. The Russians decided they wanted horses both strong and fast so they bred the Kyrgyz horses with horses from Europe. The result was horses that are neither strong nor fast.

The morning snow is already beginning to melt. The Chinese have not finished the road and it has become quite bumpy.  I shall close this blog.

 

Filed under: Kyrgystan

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    Carolyn Boiarsky

    " I am an American," but not "Chicago born" like Augie March. Only Chicago aged. I'd like to think that if Henry Louis Gates were to investigate my geneology, he would discover in my past three women who traveled around the globe, chronicling their adventures. Sarah Kemble Knight traveled 112 miles by carriage from Boston to New York in 1704, a journey most women did not embark on alone (and men did so only with some trepidation). In fact, women were only just beginning to exercise their independence in the 1920's when Emily Kimbrough took off with her friend, Cornelia Otis Skinner, to explore Europe. But it is Auntie Mame, transforming herself from a New Yorker to the wife of an Austrian Baron and climbing the Matterhorn, whose mantra I have adopted. "LIFE IS A BANQUET...LIVE!" I began travelling in the 1960's when I traveled around western Europe between graduating from the Univiersity of Pennsylvania and my first job as a statehouse correspondent for UPI (United Press International) in Charleston, West Virginia, which was about as foreign a place as Europe was to someone who grew up in the environs of Philadelphia. Since then, I've also travelled to Kaunas, Lithuania, to teach at Vytautus Magnus University and to Sheffield, England, to present a paper at an engineering conference. I've been to the Alps and seen Auntie Mame's Matterhorn while climbing, by a series of cable cars rather than by foot, toward the peak of Mont Blanc. For the past 10 years my husband and I have been traveling to unique places: a sheep farm during lambing season in England's Lake Country, a hotel on one of the Barromeo Islands in the middle of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, and a cottage in Dun Quin on the Dingle Peninsula which the Irish claim is the last parish before Boston. Between excursions, I'm a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond, Indiana,. My husband passed away recently and, Auntie Mame-style, I am in the process of transforming myself. Last year I joined a tour to Central Asia. This year I'm going to China to work with the pandas. A new adventure. Another banquet.

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