Here´s my little report on our trip to the south of Kyrgyzstan, namely Arslanbob and Osh, as promised in my last post.
We planned to do a roadtrip from Bishkek to Osh and then to Arslanbob, crossing the mountains in the center of the country. Due to the snowy weather conditions, we had to reconsider our plans and instead booked a flight to Osh, followed by a taxi drive into the country side. Our online check-in was not the most brilliant idea.
From my diary: “Getting up 04:50, leaving to the airport 05:30. Our flight is supposed to be on time, however, check-in starts 10 min after take-off time. Our driver arrives in Osh before we even get on the plane. Our online tickets are not recognized.”
Fortunately, some colleagues of Kathi are at the airport as well and help us with resolving the situation. In the plane we are amazed by the wonderful view over the mountains.
View from above:
When we arrive in Osh, our taxi driver and a companion are already awaiting us. The situation in the car is a bit funny. Janine and me speak (taken together) 15 words of Russian, most of them being numbers. Our driver speaks no English at all. Somehow we nevertheless manage to communicate. During a stop to take lunch, the two guys just order the same for everybody, and for some more complex matters, they call the tourism office in Arslanbob.
We stop in Өзгөн (Uzgen) at the Kara-Khanid dynasties mausoleum. In addition to the mausoleum, that you can enter to have a look at the inside, there is a tower from which you have a nice view of the surrounding. We have a look around and even get a short tour in English (our guide is a student working there voluntarily).
In Arslanbob we are dropped of at the tourism office. You can find offices of the CBT (community based tourism) everywhere in Kyrgyzstan. They offer information about accomodation, tours and rental of equipment. The CBT in Arslanbob is a showcase office. We were offered several possibilities for a tour the next day and a homestay was organized for us.
Our homestay with a working heating system (!) is a t the house of an Uzbek family (Arslanbob is close to the Uzbek border, so most families are of Uzbek origin).
From my diary: “There is a cat, a horse, a cow and a calf. Of the four kids of the family we get to know only two. The grandmother is preparing Plov for dinner, Janine is feeding her portion of meat to the cat. The bathroom including a western toilet is outside, the water is freezing cold. We are cold the whole time and try to warm ourselves up with tea. “чай (chay)” is our new favorite word.”
We have Blini for breakfast and start our tour. We decided to do a hike on snow shoes. Since it´s the day of the animal market, we stop there to have a look around. Janine and me are the only women at the market.
Arslanbob is located downhill of a huge forest of walnut trees. We hike uphill all the time. In the beginning walking with snow shoes is fun and not that exhausting, but then the snow gets deeper and deeper and we sink into the snow with every step. At some point we decide to get rid of the snow shoes and continue walking without them. After a couple of hours and 7 km we reach the spot where we have a pick-nick for lunch. My shoes are completely wet and my feet freezing cold. I decide to go back to the homestay. Janine wants to continue the walk to a waterfall.
From my diary: “I get home at 15:30, everything is wet, I want to have a shower. There´s a bizarre construction with a fuse and loose cables to heat the water. It´s taking too long, in the end I have a cold shower, but let the heating switched on for Janine. … After dinner our guide visits us to have a beer. Upon arrival the family gets hectic, the mother quickly puts on her headscarf. I have a bad conscience. Our guide is asked twice why he continued the tour with Janine alone, we almost forgot how traditional people there are. Our guides driver nearly falls asleep on the table. We try to dry our clothes on the heater over night, I sleep surprisingly well.”
The next day we head back to Osh, the weather got warmer and melt water is everywhere. In Osh we sleep in a hostel in a plattenbau (pre-fabricated building). The owner of the hostel welcomes us in German, he studied German philology in Berlin. We walk around to see the city. A lot of new houses are build. To see the whole city, we climb Suleyman-hill (UNESCO world heritage).
Taking a walk:
Osh is well known to be one of the cities along the old silk-road. It still habors one of the biggest markets in Central Asia. So we decide to do some grocery shopping for our dinner there and are extremely surprised how well we manage.
From my diary: “Shopping without speaking a lot works extremely well. Back in the hostel we eat our bread, cucumber, tomatoes, cheese and smettana and enjoy the luxury of a real heating system.”
Our flight back to Bishkek is scheduled for the next morning. The view is again breathtaking. On the plane, we make some plans for the weekend. For the upcoming weekend-trip to Issyk-Kul we want to surprise the others with some colored eggs, easter holidays! More about this topic in the next post.
Back to Bishkek: