Friday, August 31, 2012

Kyrgyzstan

I had a day and night in Istanbul on the way from London to Kyrgyzstan. I thought London was busy chaos but man Istanbul was crazy! As I only had a short amount of time in the city I got a hop-on-hop-off bus and saw most of the sights, the most spectacular for me was the Blue Mosque.
Blue Mosque

From Istanbul I caught my flight into Central Asia, first stop Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, arriving at 2.30am, ouch! Bishkek has a big US Airforce base for access into Afghanistan so there were heaps of military aircraft and personnel. I met up with the rest of my tour mates and we looked around Bishkek. The backdrop to the city is the 4800m+ Kyrgyz Alatau Mountain range which we could just see through cloud. Remnants of the Soviet era remain, a large statue of Lenin, which used to be in the main square and then was shifted to the back of the building and replaced with a statue of the local hero Manas.

Lenin statue in Bishkek

We then headed off for three nights camping. Overlanding is a mixture of camping, homestays and hotels. We have had some amazing camping spots, one in the mountains where we did a hike and the next nights by a river bed in a local farming area.  The scenery reminds me so much of home, especially Central Otago.

"Kristina" our truck at the camp site

Camp site on local farm land, with farmers gathering hay by hand
I am loving the overland experience, we have a great group of people, some of whom started the journey with me in Bishkek, others who started in Beijing and are going right through to Istanbul, 96 days in total! Camping has been fantastic, despite not being hardened to sleeping on the ground, and its surprising how cold it gets at night...I have been sleeping with puffer jacket and polar fleece on, but in the day its 30deg plus! We are on a cooking roster, which is more of an outdoors version of Master-chef, as it is a competition between groups to see who can come up with the most gourmet meals. I never thought I would have french toast for breakfast whilst camping!

We had a wander around the local village and had a look in the local school. We even bought eggs and fresh milk for breakfast and got to see a game of "goat polo" where they kill a goat, cut off it's head and legs and then play a game on horse back where they have to put the goat in a old tractor tire. Its more like rugby than polo, as they were tackling each other whilst riding and trying to wrestle the goat away, pretty vicious stuff. The winning team got to keep the goat for dinner! It was the village on our side of the river v the village on the opposite side. Things got pretty heated before they even started with a fight breaking out!

The goat being slaughtered
Goat polo in full force!
We have Al and James as our group leaders, they also double as mechanics, keeping the truck going. The truck is our home for the next four weeks and carries all our bags and camping equipment...fully self sufficient. I mistankingly called it a bus on the first day and was told that its very bad form to refer to it as a bus!
Al and James changing the oil!

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like one awesome adventure you are having!

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  2. The truck looks just like one we travelled through Africa in!

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