Sunday, 18 January 2015

Memories of Kyrgyzstan

We spent 17 days in Kyrgyzstan in May.  That was early spring with the snows just out of the high valleys and the nomads starting to move their animals to higher pasture.  I'm reviewing these photos in mid summer (January 2015) in New Zealand.  The temperatures are about the same - warm enough to not need long undies, but cool enough that a warm coat is a good idea.

For us, Kyrgyzstan was the perfect mix of tenting/ outdoors activities and town/homestays for a bit of civilization.  Only a bit.  Kyrgyzstan was one of the many central Asia countries where our interact cards did not work and most banks did not honour our Mastercard.  Few merchants accepted credit cards either, so our USD were the way to go.

Loo stop in the mountains and a family
stopped to ask for photos.  Of course we agreed, as
long as we could take one too.

Hiking up into the walnut forest.  Didn't really need the hiking poles as
we were walking along a cart track.  Local families harvest the walnuts as a
source of cash.  

Back to our homestay in the back of a pickup truck.
Not a tuk tuk - perhaps a truck truck?

Ok, some of the nights were a bit cool

Everybody rides horses.  Probably before they learn to walk.

This wee girl had mastered sitting cross legged and carefully
lifting spoons of soft icecream to her mouth.  Grandma had
brought the kids for a treat.

Of course I had some.  Even though I was pretty sure the sanitation
standards weren't the best.  It was delicous.

Check out the gentleman in the background in traditional dress.

At our homestay.  A working treadle machine in our room.

Yurts in the high country

Aren't the mountains beautiful?  We were at about 3500 meters
so these mountains on the western edge of the Himalayas
went up about another 3000 meters or so

Mountain road

Begaim negotiating with the Russian rafting guys

Ready to go.  A few km from here, the river is the border
with Kazakstan (the two countries do not have good

Lake Issyk Kul.  Kumtor mine (jointly owned by Canada)
is across the lake.

Some of us thought the water was warm enough for

Thanks to Nico for setting up this photo

I didn't understand why we kept running into flocks of sheep
that had many different breeds until Begaim explained that the
shepherds were hired by many farmers to take the flocks up
 to the high country and care for them til fall/

We got to take army surplus jeeps to a hostel outside Karakol
for three days of hiking.  Poor Calypso couldn't make it.

Traditional design on man's felt hat.
It used to be that each design indicated which
family you belonged to 

Felted and decorated yurt.

Bringing back the lamb for dinner.

This fellow belonged to the village, but he hung around our truck watching
the crazy visitors.

Take a few sand mats, some tent poles, some wire and
you have the perfect barbecue pit.

It was fancy dress night.  My costume was a fairy.

We've circled around the lake and now it is quite desertlike

At our next homestay.  Lovely food.  Shower (ok, 10 of us had to
share, but it was luxury after days in a tent)

Communal dinner

scotch from Bruce for Cal's birthday 

A bit of retail therapy at the felting cooperative

This one came home with me

This hand powered machine sews the felted pieces together
to make Yurt walls

Starting our felted art work

The group working together

Before felting

wrapping in burlap, adding boiling water, tying it up

and then dancing on it

I think Wayne had the best moves

Add soap and water and roll and mush

Patterns that I'm used to in quilting, but created with
felted fabric thick enough to keep you warm in your yurt.

The roof of a yurt.  Check the flag for Kyrgyzstan for the same

Heading to Song Kul

Our first yak (very telephoto).  They soon became
a common sight

Our tent had quite the lawn ornaments.
Until the wind threatened to blow them to the next valley

Our felted masterpiece needed to be soaped and washed
in the lake and dried four more times.

Coming along nicely.  The hiking situpon
came in very handy

Goat polo

These guys were the local experts and made sure
that the teams were evenly matched

This fellow was the coach - and had words to say to

Everybody was there for the game

Our last night before heading to the border.  The hosts were
Russian, so the yurts were a bit non traditional.
The dining tent had a quilt!!

View from the loo in the early morning

Last photo before the border.  About 50 km to go before
the last checkpoint

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