So,Elizabeth has fulfilled one of her childhood ambitions of sleeping in a yurt. What is a yurt you ask? Why it is that funny looking shelter in the picture above. Traditionally the nomadic Kyrgyz people would live in these and move them to high ground in the summers and back down to the warmer valleys in the winter. Nowadays though it is typically only the shepherds who use them during summer as they tend their flocks on the jailoos (alpine grass plains).
The yurt is covered by sheep’s felt on the outside and decorated with shyrdak (felt) rugs on the inside. Complete with a fire, for burning sheep dung (don’t worry when burnt it is fully dried and not smelly), soft mats for sleeping on and a skylight to let in the light, it was a cosy little place for us to spend the night – it had to be, it was bloody freezing outside!
Over our stay we went horse riding and hiking around the hills up around the patches of remaining snow clinging on into summer. It was great to get a glimpse into family life up in the mountains – definitely a no frills way to live. We made a video and got some photos which hopefully paint a picture better than I can with words.
I took this photo shortly before we retired for the night. The temperature was rapidly dropping, but the little fire burining dried sheep dung inside the yurt ensured we were cosy as we drifted off to sleep.
The day following this shot all the foals were speperated from their mothers so that the mares could be milked to make kymys , a local low alcoholic drink. Like home brew in Aus, each household has their own take on it and everybody thinks their’s is best, so you have to try a few.
Having been chased out of Kochkor as a result of my heavy internet using habits (long story), we are now back in Bishkek as we wait out the Chinese Dragon Boat festival and the reopening of the Torugart Pass. The next post, assuming all goes well, should be from western China!
View all our Kyrgyzstan images taken to date here .