We entered Kyrgyzstan through the border which is usually closed to the foreigners, but due to the shooting in the Pamir region it was temporally open and we had the rare opportunity to cycle along snowy- 7000m peaks. We cycled the country from the South to the North enjoying semi nomad people living in yurts during the summer and selling fermented mare´s milk (Kumys) or dried cottage cheese balls (Kurut).
We have seen horses almost everywhere. People in Kyrgyzstan spend their entire life next to the animals; horses are used both for transport and food source (milk and meat). Kids are able to ride when they are four and we saw many children riding really fast through the Kyrgyz plateaus!
Some parts of the road were covered by a very smooth, new asphalt. Most of those roads were built by the Chinese and we must say – they did a great job!
To cross the country from the South to the North we had to climb many high passes – some of them as high as 3612m. Sometimes Mat used to hold on to a truck passing by – they go very slowly, 15 km/h so it is easy to keep the balance and react on time when something happens.
Most of the houses we saw on our way were built out of the local materials (either clay or stone) so they fit perfectly to the surroundings.
Life in Kyrgyzstan, especially high up in the mountains is rather rough. Growing up there must be a challenge…
People use dried cows manure as fuel to both cook and heat their homes and yurts. The smell of burned excrements is very special – not as bad as it might sound, but quite intense, kind of sour.
In Central Asia animals are treated rather badly. On local markets we saw a lot of mistreated cows, sheep, donkeys and horses. For the locals, animals are like things, they have no other value than what they are worth. For us, as vegetarians it was a hard time to watch them suffering.
Next to the traditional yurts, we witnessed modern, PVC or concrete versions. As we heard, some years ago it was normal to be invited by the local families and taste fermented mare’s milk or other unusual dairy products. Now they often charge for everything – the old, good Kyrgyz hospitality seems to be long gone…
We decided to visit Kyrgyzstan mostly to experience its amazing, overwhelming nature. We have got what we wanted!
We must admit – we have never seen so many drunk people wandering around! Also drunk drivers make a lot of troubles on the roads, causing some scary accidents.
It happened that we crossed 5000 km of our journey in Kyrgyzstan! 5000 km in less than 5 months is not bad, don’t you think?
Next we are heading towards Kazakhstan, where we will apply for the Chinese visa and leave Central Asia after almost three months.