Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Part of my schedule here includes excursions out of Bishkek to various locations around Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian countries. This past weekend 10 of us from the London School drove about 4 hours to Lake Issyk-Kul to stay in a beautiful 'lake house', build a little yurt, and experience what it's really like to be Kyrgyz in a full-on, up-the-mountain, high-altitude day hike.

Lake Issyk-Kyl is the second largest salt lake in the world, after the Caspian Sea, so it never freezes. Those of you who know me well should know that I'm not a big lake-swimmer. I'm just not a big water person in general. Despite my fears I went ahead and stripped down to my skivvies and went for it with a beautiful sunset highlighting the horizon. Half way around the world, I might as well, right? As expected, the water was warm and it was salty. I even plugged my nose and went under! Once. Then made for shore in haste.

The beautiful shore of Issyk-Kul in the morning light.

Our weekend residence with the lake in the background, some mountains hiding behind the clouds.

We spent all of Saturday hiking up to some gorgeous alpine lake, though none of us actually made it to the lake. It was a rigorous hike pretty much straight up the mountain, but for our guide it was just another day in the life.  And while hiding under a rock from some chilly raindrops I happened to see another guy just livin' the life, herding his sheep across the hills. The landscape was rugged and beautiful, though I thought it could have been anywhere in Montana or Idaho or Wyoming. It felt like home and my companions suggested multiple times that they thought I was made for Kyrgyzstan. But do not be fooled by the pretty little hill in this photo...It was a big hill. And behind it, obscured by those clouds, some serious snow capped peaks. I took this photo after I gave up on reaching the lake, after we'd already hiked up probably more than 6,000 feet.

The view from the top. And the little tent that was the herder's abode. We passed it on the hike up and stopped to see if anyone was home. Unfortunately, just the dog and a couple calves.

That may be my only mountain scaling adventure within the next four months, but it was an amazing way to get a little bit up close and personal with Kyrgyzstan and I'm looking forward to spending next weekend again on the lake!
More on the yurt later...

1 comment:

  1. I am very excited about your stay in Kyrgyzstan and your willingness to experience the world. Keep the posts and pictures coming; we'll be able to vicariously live the adventure with you.