Best places in Kyrgyz land can be reached only by foot, horse back or by 4WD. A very decent motorbike might also do. Hitchhiking is a common way of transport and you are somehow expected to pay – how much it depends; if it sound like a rip off, smile and wait for next car, your next ride might be even for free.
All my hitch rides ended up with the kumis/kurut/tea/lunch break. Here is 5 som for your toilet! What, what?? No, I will pay my toilet myself! At the last one I scored almost two kilos of kurut (dry cheese balls) – because I told them I’m leaving to Uzbekistan and apparently they don’t have kurut there – or at least not the best one. I understand a few, but TWO KILOS?? This is how we thread guests in our land!
In Naryn I was lucky and joined two guys with 4WD for two days. After getting a special permit to be around no man’s land (from Naryn towards Torugart and Chatyr-Kul lake), loaded with few days food supply and gasoline we hit the bumpy road. You never know if you will have to turn back at any point or not. Few security checkpoints, seems like guards there sleep/live/whatever there. Scenery was amazing, there was maybe a yurt or two every hour, but horses and yaks were everywhere. Landscapes around is just amazing. And the meteorite rain at night was just another bonus!
Road was really a dirt road, we were barely able to drive more than 30 or 40 per hour. “Road” crossed the river couple of times, of course you need to get stuck in it at least once. Luckily just in time, when a group of motorbikers was around.
Visiting “our neighbor” yurt after dinner and sunset (hey, we were in their backyard!), we were more than welcomed with kumis (which is never just kumis anyways …)
You better not sit at the table without any food in your hand, otherwise they will take a good care of it. EAT!
Well, we were just after dinner and we just wanted to say hi (and maybe a cup of warm tea as the temperature goes bellow zero at 3000 m valley even in the summer). They even chopped a watermelon! EAT, is for you! We were at least 5 hours dirt-road-drive to the nearest village. We brought over some sweets as it is polite to bring something with you and Kyrgyz are very sweet tooth (like all Central Asians).
“So, see you in the morning, right?” was what they said before we left.
Next morning, we continue our way and make a breakfast stop in what it seems as abandoned village. Before we are even out of the car someone’s wive brings bread, butter and kurut.
“You should come in for tea.”
Knowing what this means – eat, eat and eat again and they won’t let us leave for half a day, we politely say no. No, no is not an answer here. They bring more food outside – ayran, tea, bread and fat. All villagers came to say hi. Another guy on a horse, just brings a dead sheep and we had to jump on a horse back. Million questions asked 🙂 Yes, definitely no other people around. Sadly, not even 9 in the morning, few people were completely drunk and made other villagers totally uncomfortable …
People are extremely curious and talkative and so far the most understandable and acceptable of “different mentalitet” people. Don’t worry, you are still going to be asked “Why you not married yet?” all the time.
So, different mentalitet questionnaire (world is different when you speak some Russian!):
– Do women wear headscarf in your country? You see it here, we usually do.
– What’s your favorite place (city or not) you have been to? And it shouldn’t be Kyrgyzstan!! (Kazakhs seem to be extremely disappointed if you didn’t list Kazakhstan as your favorite place in the universe 🙂
– How big are buildings in London? Have you been there?
– Do they have big mountains in England? And a lot of grass that they can feed their animals?
– Have you been to Kuala Lumpur and Baku? I heard those two places are really amazing!! HOROŠNO!! I would like to go there! Show me the pictures please!
– Is it XY really like we see on the internet?
– You really don’t have kumis in your country? (The most unbelievable question EVER).
Pictures are around No man’s land (Naryn to Torugart pass on the back road), Kazarman and Osh.
Permits for Naryn to Torugart Pass (and all No man’s land area)
You can reach Chatyr-Kul lake from Tash-Rabat without a permit. But to continue the main road towartd Torugat, you will be stopped and checked. We took the road from Naryn to Ak-Muz and Bozogo (Бозого) around the mountain, follow up Toshkan river and than Ak-Sai river (Аксай) and pass Kekaygir (Кёкайгыр) village before reaching the lake. We got our permits in 2-3 hours in the tourist office (not CBD) for 1000 som. Permit can be issued for 10 days. Apparently off season you might need to wait a day or two. You really need a 4WD or a decent motorbike for the road and you will have to pass the river several times. Not sure it the road to Kel-Suu lake was doable, we didn’t go there.