We are in Kyrgyzstan……this can’t be the road to Karakol!
Nope…..this one is much better!
The road did improve and we enjoyed what sites we could along the way. The mists and rain added a different touch to the countryside.
The green valley in sharp contrast to Kazakhstan’s dry terrain and an indication of precipitation.
Being observed along the way.
And observing…..none of us immune to the wet.
Arriving cold and wet to a very warm welcome at Riverside Guesthouse in Karakol.
We are greeted with sunny skies for our departure to Cholpon-Ata on Issy Kul (lake).
Beautiful day for a ride. Lots of people out and about on the road and we are greeted with many high 5’s, waves and shouts.
We arrive at Issy Kul, a very popular destination for tourists, via the Northern route and spent two days at Maksat Guest house in Cholpon-Ata.
This beach is a five minute walk from our guesthouse.
We found great restaurants for dinner with excellent Western, Russian and Kyrgyz food and music……although translation of dishes occasionally left one a bit apprehensive.
After a couple of very relaxing days it was time to make our way to Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan, we decided, has the most erratic and chaotic drivers we had experienced anywhere in our travels…..and we came to find that it also had the most policed road we had ever encountered…..but it seemed the ticketing was completely arbitrary…..as almost every driver could be ticketed for infractions. But it was our turn to encounter the system, and were fortunate this time. As we were riding with cars passing us on both sides, close enough to touch us as they were having a look, with speeding oncoming traffic, we came around a corner to see Tom and Tracy stopped by the police. The policeman saw us coming and waved at us, Lindsay decided he didn’t mean us, as the car in front kept going, and we were not speeding. Marian was a little concerned that Tom and Tracy might pay the price of our misinterpretation……Lindsay was not concerned…..but a kilometre down the road a policeman had crossed the center barrier and was definitely waving for us to pull over……. which we did. The man was very friendly and told us we should have stopped previously. Lindsay was then summoned over to the police car on the other side of the road and given a stern warning by the “boss”. Luckily after much explaining and a handshake we were on our way. Tom and Tracy had been equally lucky with no fine. On the remaining ride in to Bishkek we realized that we had never seen such a concentration of “the law”.
Arriving at our hotel in Bishkek, a classic car greeted us.
We spent a few days at the Golden Tulip Hotel in the central area planning the next stage of the ride. Again we found a great little Coffee Shop where several planning sessions were held. Bishkek has a very European feel to it and was great to walk around. It is also well known for the its Osh Bazaar.
We left Bishkek on the 17th of August to make our way to Toktogul. The road out of Bishkek reminded us a bit of Indonesia, where the city just melds into village after village without any open highway. Very slow going. Once through that 100km and riding South we go over the Tuu Ashu (Flag Pass) 3586 metres, with a tunnel to traverse at the top.
Out of the tunnel and into a valley where sharing the road with livestock has become the norm. Guess who has priority!!
Fueling up we met a young Lithuanian man taking part in the Mongol Rally on this 50cc scooter…..to get through some of the passes in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan he had to unpack his scooter, ride up a ways, walk back down and retrieve his stuff and repeat. Arduous.
We crossed the valley where yurts were now becoming a common site along the way.
Through the next pass, Ala Bel 3184m to our overnight stay in Toktogul at the Rahat Hostel.
Shared coffee space.
The following day we make our way to Osh.
And we arrive in Osh after a very intense and long ride due to traffic conditions…….but the scenery along the way was amazing!
We stay one night in Osh in the Shanghai City Hotel, which had comfortable rooms but the worst breakfast of the trip. In the morning we wandered around a bit before packing up for our ride to Sary Tash.
On the way to Sary Tash.
And we leave for Tajikistan.