Day 11: Return to Bishkek with a slight detour (day tour )
Today, we had planned to return back to Bishkek. On seeing the map, we realized that it might be possible to squeeze in a day picnic to Song Köl, another popular high altitude lake here. So we dropped in at Kubat Tours again & got the directions of another longer route which was more scenic. Also there was a broken bridge which would need a detour to circumambulate.
Green route is the normal road to Bishkek. We had to take the red route to avoid the broken bridge.
We drove past the University of Central Asia: the world’s first internationally chartered institution of higher education. It was founded in 2000 by the governments of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, and His Highness the Aga Khan.
Leaving Naryn behind.
The road signs are extremely helpful out here .
A beekeeper tending to his bees. I love the pastel colors!!!
This strange procedure of tying sheep wool behind a car or a horse and dragging it to make it smooth is a small part of an extremely laborious procedure to make a Shyrdak (felt carpet). Naryn is the place to experience this tradition which sees hand-made carpets being made. These are passed on from mother to daughter as a gift on her marriage ... or hung in their yurts to protect them from the cold winds here.
Though we didn't manage to find the time to see a Shyrdak being made, we did buy one from a shop attached to the Khan Tengri guest house in Naryn.
In the entire trip, we saw these Shyrdaks in many places ...
Shyrdaks hanging in the Asia mall in Bishkek ...
A painting depicting Kyrgyz women making a Shyrdak.
Back to the journey ...
To avoid the broken bridge, we had to take a 3 hour detour to get to the other side.
The landscapes on this route were quite scenic making it worth the effort!
The gravel road had hardly any cars passing by and absolutely no sign boards.
Pretty villages along the way.
We soon realized we were truly lost ... with no one to ask directions to.
We couldn't capture the scale of this place!
Finally we found someone. I got down & started asking for the route to Song Köl & the reply came 'Baa' . I realized I was talking to the sheep sitting in the back seat . Going on the other side, I finally managed to wake up the sleeping guy and he told us that we were on the right road ...
We soon reached the base of the mountain from where the ascend to the lake starts. It struck me how insignificant we humans are in the grand scheme of things!
The vegetation changes ...
I love those twisties .
Finally the first glimpse of the lake! This lake is at an elevation of nearly 10,000 ft asl.
The place is dotted with a lot of Yurt accommodation. This is a very small section of the lake which is quite huge.
Check out the location!
Testing the waters. It was absolutely freezing!
We got the car here to protect us from the wind and did a late lunch picnic.
The meadows around the lake are home to lot of nomads with their livestock & yurts. They descent to lower altitudes once the harsh winter sets in & freezes the lake.
We were quite taken by the place so we spent a couple of hours just sitting ... the horses were grazing and we were gazing .
Finally in the late evening, we bid good-bye to this wonderful place! I'm really glad we came here!
Once it became dark, we started driving towards Bishkek. The return route hardly had any sharp turns & was quite easy though the road was corrugated resulting in teeth-clattering drive. Once we joined the highway though, the road was butter smooth ... with the mandatory speed-gun toting cops stopping us 3 more times along the way. We managed to talk our way out each time & reached our Bishkek apartment at 1 am.
We returned our car the next morning & chose to explore Bishkek by taxis. Very reasonable & convenient.
Diamond City apartment that we booked through booking.com.
Our apartment was on the 11th floor.
It was excellent in every way. A special note of thanks to Datka, the extremely helpful & informative owner.
Though Bishkek is a big city, we still had trouble finding vegetarian food on the menu of most restaurants we visited.
Chinatown: We actually found a full page of vegetarian options here!!!
It's huge inside!
We had these 2 vegetables with fried rice. The reason I'm putting up this photo is if anyone can figure out what the vegetable on the left is! The server who knew a bit of English said it's white asparagus but we couldn't find anything that looks like it on the net!!!
The Ala-Too square!
In Bishkek we went shopping, cafe hopping, dessert hunting and just absorbed their general city life.