Thursday, August 18, 2005

Northern Kyrgyzstan

Okay, after all our heavy traveling of the last week or two (as outlined in my previous post), we made it to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan has been a welcome relief as it is the cheapest of the central Asian countries and yet still very pleasant. Anyway, we arrived and immediately ran into a serious motivation problem as a group. We had only planned on a day or 2 before heading off to the countryside but it took us 4 just to get out of town. On one day we got up, packed, looked outside, saw it start to rain then sat back down and played cards for the rest of the day! Oh the joy of laziness!
Bishkek was a bit surprising. It is very green, with tons of parks in the center. It almost seems to be more park than anything else. I don't know where the commercial center is (or if there even is one). In the center they have the parliament building, big museum and ex-Lenin square, the odd shopping center, tons of outdoor cafes and blocks and blocks of parks. There's not even much traffic on the streets. For the first time since Mongolia we were able to sit in a restaurant and eat too.
Don't know what it was for but they had a big military parade rehearsal going on while we were running around one of the days. The only problem has been the thunderstorms that keep coming by all the time but they are entertaining so we won't complain too much.
Intercity traffic here is a bit whacked too. They don't really have buses like we think of them but just minibuses that leave whenever they are full (or feel like it) which can mean long waits or you have to get a long-distance taxi. From Bishkek we went to Song Kul lake for some more R+R in a more natural setting. Kyrgyzstan is almost nothing but mountains (so far they've all been devoid of vegetation) and our lake was up at 3000m (10000ft) so we froze our butts off (it was 5C) playing cards in our yurt (like a mongolian ger) waiting for all the thunderstorms to pass. Things are very basic and not as well set up for tourists like in Mongolia. Mongolians always live in gers. Only kyrgyz shepherds live in yurts and that is only during the summer months when they take their herds up to the high pastures. Thus the yurts are much more temporary and LEAK when the rains hit. Spent 3 days up there (1 of which we just sat around watching Bre be sick) others by the lake or riding.
I need never ride a horse again. Savannah explained it perfectly, it doesn't get any better. We are now back in Bishkek again but are heading south tomorrow to Osh for a few days then on to Kashgar in China.


At 10:16 PM , Blogger Sandra said...

Ammon, I did what you asked me to. They laughed at me, but that is OK. I remembered you showed me something about OSH in newspaper before, so I believe OSH is a real place. By the way, let me know how my citizens and the 7 "soldiers" doing. Lol Cannot wait for your next entry.
'Mars" by Maggie-the-mom reminds me so much of the days when I did skywatching on Savory Island. I spent my nights with the stars and the 'milky sky". I remembered there was no moon! The star clusters appear once again in my head.
Bre, don't get sick again.
Take care and you guys are in my prayers.

I accidentally delete the last message.

At 5:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are the long lost Staceys. Hi everyone. Wow, Maggie the horses sounded so wonderful.....I was actually there with you in my mind riding....Ronna
Mom&Dad bought an apartment and the house will be up for sale shortly....lots of changes for everyone right!!!! David had two more injections in his eyes. Yuck!!!!
Girls you keep care and no more puking Bre!!! Watch out for those wondering guys over there too.
Love and miss you so very much and admire you all. Ammon keep them in line. Doing a wonderful job. Over and out.
Ronna and David xoxoxox

At 8:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let the Watkins Family know that I met Skylar this past weekend in Cherry Point NC. My Nephew Keary J. Simmons has been stationed with Skylar in Korea, Japan, and Iraq. Keary came home from Iraq on Sunday 8/21/05 and our entire family endured the long drive from NY and Michigan to welcome him home. We met Skylar that night and just wanted to tell his Family he is a great young man. He told us what you were doing and we immediatley thought that it was great! He is doing fine and Our Family hopes your Family has a safe and joyous journey together. As for Keary and Skylar we all welcome them home and are very very proud of them!


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