Kirgizstan, half the size of Germany, no world changing history and very few sights. Anyways we spent almost the whole 60 days we were allowed to.
Coocie spent the winter safe and dry at the TES Guesthouse and we came back to
pick him up. So we were the second time in Kirgizstan. Last time we took a big tour around Lake Yssyk with Jörg’s
parents but for us no reason to leave this beautiful country right away. We know there are not many sights but there is a lot to do and to discover.
Do you know the German saying: “First working, than enjoying!” We are Germans, so we booked a two week Russian language course. Yes, we really want to learn this language as long as we are travelling in Russian speaking countries.
Anare was our teacher from the HighTime language school in Osh. Two hours every day we went there and learned lots of vocabulary, sentences and grammar… Since then we always try to practice – on the street, at the bazar, at the workshops. We are happy about every conversation we are having, but there is still soooo much to learn.
Due to the Russian lessons we got stuck in Osh which gave us the chance to do a bunch of things on the truck that we have been wanting to do. Now he has a new water system, the fender space is bigger due to some extra parts under the leaf springs and we fixed our winch.
Of course we explored the city. (Again a big “Thanks!” to Nazgul and Aida for the great city tour!) The highlight in Osh is the Suleiman Too. It is a holy mountain where, back then, Babur thought about his future. Babur… do you remember him? Originally he was the ruler of the Ferghana valley, but why not “Think big”… So he decided to move to India. There he became the founder of the mogul dynasty and the grandfather of Shah Jahan who build the TajMahal in Agra. Of course one of the most beautiful buildings during all our travels till now.
That way we spent lots of time in the guest house and became friends with some of the stuff. They invited us for their new year festival end of march (a really awesome experience, we will tell you in our next blog post about it). Due to this it was really hard to say “Goodbye!”
Our first stops were Uzgen and Jalal Abbad, were back in 2010 some bad attacks between the ethnic groups of Uzbek and Kirgiz people took place. Before Kirgizstan became part of the Soviet Union the two ethnic groups lived almost friendly door to door. The Uzbeks were farmers and the Kirgiz nomads and they had no real borders. Lenin decided which part should be Kirgizstan and which Uzbekistan. Due to that the people in Jalal Abbad are up to 80% ethnic Uzbeks. They lived there for hundreds of years, but now it’s Kirgizstan. During the soviet union this was not such a big deal, because the borders were only formal. After the independence the discussion about the power in the government started and raised again after the putsch and the new organization of the government in Bishkek. In 2010 more than 500 people in the south of the country died because of this. Today the situation is much better. Of course there are still some radical opinions but the majority of the people live friendly with each other.
All of this was not really the reason for us to come to Jalal Abbad. For us it was the starting point for the route through the mountains to one of the few real sights in Kirgizstan. We wanted to see the old caravanserai close to the Chinese border. Unfortunately the locals stopped us after 20 km. There would be too much snow. Maybe we can go next month…
What to do? We had a chai and realized that there is only one other option. We had to take the main road back to Bishkek. Not our plan but fine anyways. We did know that the road is really beautiful. Full of beautiful scenery from the beginning till the end and there the spring did start already. So we camped for a few days at the Naryn canyon and at the Toktogul, always with a view to the Thien Shan mountains and always surrounded by many sheep and horses. As we told you… Kirgiz are nomads. Many of them still live with the animals in their yurts in the mountains during the summer months. Even the people in the city own horses. At the buzkaschi the national horse sport you can win big prices and they love to take part there. We expected horses would be cheap, because there are so many of them, but they are not. It starts from 500€ and for a well-trained one you can easily pay as much as you have to pay for a car. Anyways we cannot keep one. I’m happy to be surrounded by almost wild horses that can go wherever they want.
When we reached Bishkek we met the guys from the WeltreiseWg with two of
their girlfriends. Lukas, Moritz and Jonas… are going to go the same way like we do. We know them from Osh and hope to see them few more times on our way through the Mongolian wilderness.
Compared to the rest of the country Bishkek is quite modern. Many young people come here to study. We met many highly motivated students. They used the chance to improve their English skills
talking to us. Due to an average salary of only 100$ per month it’s not a big surprise that many of them want to study abroad, but we were surprised that many of them plan to go back and rise
their home country. It will not be easy but we wish this beautiful and friendly country all the best!
For them who want to support the country we can highly recommend a ski or snowboard tour during the summer month!!! We tried and it is one of our highlights in two months of Kirgizstan. We
expected April might be late for skiing but anyways we contacted Katja from the southside hostel. She knows the country and the snow conditions very well and told us that the season at the Kumtor glacier just
starts… Close to the glacier is one of the biggest gold mines on earth, which is the most important income for the Kirgiz government. It’s run by a Canadian company that pays 50% of the gold to
Kirgizstan. We do not care too much about this, but due to the company the road to the glacier is one of the better ones and free of snow all the year round. The day before we did prepare all our
stuff only wearing shorts close to the lake and the next day we reached this pure white powder area after one hour of driving. Snow as far as you can see. You can do the climbing walking or they
can organize snowmobiles. We decided to climb with the snowshoes. Jörg and our guide went to the highest peak with 4500m around. I had to stop after one hour of climbing, unfortunately my body
didn’t manage the altitude that well. For Jörg it was awesome! Pure untouched powder!
I guess there are not too many places in the world where you can ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon. Here it is possible!
For the last days we went back to the capital. We met Roderick and Marleen from the circumbendibus. We did meet them last year in Iran an enjoyed a few great days with them. We had lots of good Kirgiz food. We used the bazars to buy spare parts and groceries and we did some work at Coocie. After 7 weeks it was time to start a new chapter.
We will miss you Kirgizstan!