We left the Tash Rabat valley soon after breakfast. It was another lovely day, although very cold first thing. I was up and out walking at 6.30 hoping to catch the sunrise. The sun came up and the charge had run out on my phone. C’est la vie!
Our journey took us to Naryn, a small Soviet town providing a stop over en route to our next camp by the Song Kul lake. It was a town slotted into a sort of canyon consisting mainly of one through road. Once again mountains towered over it on both sides. Our accommodation was in a ‘home stay’, a guest house in our terms. From the outside it looked like a communist concrete block. Once inside the rather grand double gates it was very different. The garden was full of roses and colourful petunias – the epitome of the English country garden. Inside the house there were generous sized rooms and a fully operational bathroom. You cannot imagine how much that was appreciated! Apparently in Soviet times it was a block of flats. It worked well as guest accommodation and the lady who ran it was lovely.
Having been allocated our rooms and dumped our bags, we cadged a lift on the truck down town to get some Kygystan money, called Som. You seem to get lots of hundreds to the pound. It was interesting to note that the exchange rate for US dollars and the Euro were advertised, but there was no mention of sterling. Now ‘in funds’ we set off to find a lunch stop and were delighted to be confronted with a crisp salad. Following lunch we took a quick walk to the ‘market’ which was basically an array of small shops, either in a collective housed in a large market hall or stalls set up by the side of the road. The different sectors – vegetables, dry foods, clothing – all seemed to have a different area. It is such a different place to China – from the ladies fashions (a mix of Muslim, colourful outfits and western fashion) to the cars, predominantly aged Lada’s in various stages of deterioration.
It was very warm, so we decided to walk back to base and catch up on ourselves. We walked along the tree lined main street, watching the people and peering into shop doorways.
After a quiet afternoon and a bit of laundry we once again faced the challenge of Kygy hospitality. Sure enough we arrived in the dining room to tables groaning with food and then even more food arrived!
It felt as though we were marking time in Naryn and girding our loins ready for our next camping expedition, but it was a good stopover and gave us the opportunity to settle in to Kygystan and it’s people, which has been a refreshing change. The country that we have seen so far has been beautiful and the people seem as if they have all been to charm school.
Although we have been in a predominantly Muslim territory since Kashgar, I heard the call to prayer for the first time.