Hello! It’s been a long time since our last post after leaving China and we have since rested, visited two ‘stan countries and taken a flight to the “balcony of Europe” – the small but beautiful Georgia.
The Central Asia we saw was really interesting, the people who were once nomadic have been influenced over time by Turks, Persians, Russians and China. This has resulted in a strange mix of people, architecture, food and culture that I think is really unique. As a place that not many people from our society know anything about, I am so glad we had the opportunity to visit and experience it. Following is a short post on what we got up to in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
As a small country that is covered by over 90% mountains I was absolutely blown away by Kyrgyzstan’s natural beauty, which was in stark contrast to the deserts of western China. It was such a nice change! As a nature lover you have the freedom to pick a direction and just hike as far and long as you would like, or buy a horse (which they also eat / ferment their milk and drink it), ride it around and sell it when you leave. We did neither if these things… But the options there if you are into that sort of thing.
After a few days of eating and sleeping in Osh we caught a share taxi to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital. We had heard the drive took 12 hours and was extremely scenic, and we weren’t disappointed! The two massive mountain passes, windy roads, a driver who overtook trucks on blind corners, and an old, long, narrow tunnel all made for a ride that was a bit too exciting. There was an option to fly instead on a local airline which is blacklisted in Europe… this probably would have been safer!
My first impression of Bishkek was that it was a green city with mostly soviet style buildings, many needing repair, and a few modern buildings in the city centre. After coming through China (where there are no cafes to be found) one of our favourite things was discovering Sierra cafe, which was run by a Kiwi and therefore had food and drinks just like you would find at home or in Europe!! Hooray! It’s amazing how much you appreciate the little things after going without… Green grass, trees, side walks, a Caesar salad, cappuccinos, English menus etc. Our time in Bishkek wasn’t particularly exciting, we got an air BnB apartment, had afternoon naps, cooked and watched Netflix. Kind of like an extended Sunday after a big week at work, except in our case we were recovering from what turned out to be a parasite that we had picked up in China.
Here are four interesting things we did in Kyrgyzstan (with pictures – dont forget you can scroll across and hover for captions):
1. Kyrgyz Ethno Games (a day of celebration with traditional food, drink and entertainment)
2. Horse riding (in the beautiful chon chemin National park, followed by eating, drinking tea and singing with our hosts in a Kyrgyz home)
3. Lake Issyk Kul (second largest salt alpine lake in the world)
4. Slept in a yurt (because we thought we probably should while we had a chance)
Nearly four weeks after getting sick in China we were still not feeling well, and so booked ourselves into another Air bnb apartment in Almaty. Luckily we had a pretty good idea what was wrong with us now and managed to get some antibiotics. A few days later we were finally improving – luckily because Matt was almost ready to give up on the trip if he didnt start getting better (no point in travelling if all you are able to do is lye in bed watching netflix).
We saw a fair bit of Almaty, which was like a more modern, larger Bishkek. On Matts birthday I took him out for lunch and we had some absolutely delicious food – the best meal I had in Central Asia by far. Matt wanted a horse steak, so thats what we got, and it was actually really good! Not a bad way to end our time in the region.
If anyone is interested in getting off the beaten track and travelling through a really interesting region, and also love nature and history, then the ‘stans are for you!
Once again cheers for reading 🙂