Adventures around Kyrgyzstan ...
Sleepover in OSH
After an adventurous getaway from China through Torugart and Kashgar, we arrive into Osh late at night. Hostels and guesthouses in Kyrgyzstan are not very well indicated, or if they are, the letters can be so tiny that you don’t even notice. So, the taxi could not find the place and again we were one hour driving around until we left the taxi and decided to go by foot.
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Osh town is not big but when I was there it was grey and rainy… I had time to visit the bazaar. As I was trying to buy some food, I was very surprised to find that I could communicate with the apple seller lady in German.
Processing visas in BISHKEK
It is true, Bishkek is a good place to process visas for the Central Asia adventure. I visited Osh Bazar, a huge market that looks like a maze where you can get lost looking for dried fruits, cheese snacks, fruits, clothing and all kinds of products needed for daily life.. Apparently there are things more traditional of Kyrgyzstan but I could not find them.
On various travel books there is still indications on the maps about the Lenin statue but it has been don’t bother looking for it as apparently it has been taken down some time ago (The only one I have seen in Kyrgyzstan is in Karakol town).
Little visit to ISSYK KUL LAKE & KARAKOL MOUNTAINS
Mosque at Karakol
My Iranian visa was going to take two days and his Tajikistan visa to be ready, one day. So I went to the Issyk kol lake & Karakol. At the bus station in Bishkek there are buses that go to Karakol. My first stop was Cholpo-Ata (Bistery), where a family would wait for me on my arrival. It took more than five hours from Bishkek to arrive and finally late at 10pm and luckily the family was waiting for me in the dark streets of Bistery. They gave me tea and some food and I slept there. The following day I visited a canyon near by and Issyk-kol lake.
In the afternoon I went to Karakol, it is just two hours from Bistery and on arrival at the bus station I felt being in the middle of no-where, almost no-body in the streets. I was walking in the main street (LENIN?) and stopped at one cafe place that looked nice and had wifi which I though might be useful to sort my accommodation for the night. The guide books I have and probably most of them are sometimes out of date as things seem to change quite quickly specially for guesthouses and hotels. I drop my heavy back-pack and take a beer. Soon people start to come, tourists from Russia, Denmark, England. At the same time, there was a lady that I started conversations with, who was telling me about her charity and NGO work with and for women in the area of Karakol and Issyk-kol Lake. I was invited to a party in town at the museum and then I found a place to sleep (Askar Guesthouse has hot showers, nice rooms and wifi!)
The next day, I visited Jety Orguz. I took a shared taxi from the main bazaar in Karakol (for $35 kyrgis), but as I arrive to the place I realise that in fact the ti was going just to the town and not sights I wanted to see. There was a girl, perhaps she was 17 years old, who saw and realised I was a bit lost. She spoke a little English and I told here were I wanted to go. We couldn’t find a taxi for me so she called her father and they both, not only took me to the places around Jeti Orguz but also invited me for tea at their house.
The bus from Karakol was departing at 23hrs. Overnight in a sleeper bus I arrived in Bishkek early in the morning. It was raining and grey, but I took the bus to Karl Marx Street and picked up the rest of my belongings that I left at the previous guesthouse. After a shower, I was out again to pick up my Iranian and Uzbekistan visa. The Iranian visa was ready, the travel company close to Karakol Street arranged it all for me. I was not so fortunate with eh Uzbekistan visa. They had it ready, means approved for me to have the visa, but they were unable to process it for me at that time. They said I had to wait for two hours to get it. I was asking them questions and saying that my situation had changed and that I needed more days but they were reluctant to help me so I cancelled the 10 days visa that I had requested. I had asked for it to be processed urgently costing much more that the normal and yet they took as long as the standard process. So I had not alternative but to cancel the visa. They were not very helpful I must say.
Into the PAMIR HIGHWAY and goodbye Kyrgyzstan: Planning the route
The Pamir Highway was the next destination for me. I cancelled my Uzbekistan visa because of many reasons. I had asked for an urgent visa which I had to pay extra for, but my visa was ready more than a week after which is the time for a standard visa. The reception/admin lady at the consulate is the most unhelpful person you will meet in Bishkek. She told me to go at a certain time and then she said she had no time to process my visa and that even thought it took more than a week I still had to pay the “urgent service” fee. Also they didn’t want to extent the 10 days i originally requested. So I have to cancel and change plans. I headed south to the Pamir highway with a NewZealander i met in the Tajikistan embassy. We left Bishkek by the M41 in direction to Osh and then the Pamirs. The landscape is incredibly beautiful, with different types of mountains and microclimates on the way.
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