GUEST POST – BY ELIZABETH DAWSON
Our first stop across the border into Kyrgyzstan was a town called Osh. Nice place, worth a visit, only it was at least a ten hour drive north across two mountain ranges to our next stop – the capital city Bishkek.
We had sorted out our shared taxi through our hostel and we were all set for an early morning start. A quick dinner the night before in the standard local chaykana seemed the way to go – cheap and tasty. Alas, said dinner was less than gratefully received by Matthew’s digestive system and a rough night of technicolour yawns left us both fairly unsettled and Matthew still tres queasy come the morning.
Still, the show must go on and into the car we got, ready for a full day on the road. Unfortunately the turn of the ignition was all the emetic that Matthew needed and within seconds of the car leaving the kerb the poor love’s stomach gave it up all over again (thankfully a plastic bag was on hand!). The driver and our fellow passenger were obviously intrigued at the speedy onset of travel sickness given we had barely moved a hundred metres.
We pressed on however and we were soon out in the lush, green landscape of the Kyrgyzstan side of the Fergana Valley. Snow capped peaks far off in the distance framed the view.
Our friendly driver rifled through his eclectic selection of cassette tapes to set the soundtrack for our road trip. He had a clear favourite that was played at least nine times over the course of the journey. Top highlights included 70s/ 80s classics such as Abracadabra, Woman in Love, a selection of Abba and aptly summing up our level of conversation with our road trip buddies – Words (Don’t Come Easy).
As well as mixing driving with DJ-ing the lovely man was always only to happy to stop for us to take photos and even pulled over to pick wild mulberries from the side of the road.
Our journey took us past a mirror-like turquoise lake reflecting the craggy wildflower covered mountains and alongside the Naryn River cut off by a series of massive Soviet dams. Fresh mountain honey stands, trout sellers, grazing horses and scatterings of yurts were just some of the other sights to be seen from the window of the car as we climbed the twisty road.
Those distant snow capped peaks we saw at the beginning of the day got closer and closer until we were up at 3,184mt driving past glaciers surrounded by thick snow that buried car wrecks and huts. A 2.6km dark, dripping tunnel spat us out onto the other side of the mountain before we began our descent towards Bishkek.
We made it to the bottom of the mountain as dusk fell, the scenery now a strong contrast to the remote, rugged landscape of the past few hours. The long straight road towards the city was lined by factories, markets, houses and all the buzzing life that makes up a metropolis.
Eleven hours after leaving Osh we made it to our destination. The road to Bishkek was also a road to recovery for Matthew who after a shaky start was in much better shape by the end of it all.
I am writing this post in the town of Karakol on the shores of Lake Issy-Köl from where we will be doing some hikes expect some pics soon.If you enjoyed this post why not subscribe to my blog via RSS or email by following this link. Also whilst you\’re at it why not follow me on Twitter .