Monday – leaving the lake

Another beautiful day in paradise! We woke up to a bracing day awash with sunshine. We have been so lucky with the weather so far, despite the dire warnings of snow. It is great for us but I think the stock are suffering from the dry pastureland. Saied (apparently the right spelling of his name) says that it is usually much greener at this stage of the year.

We have come to the conclusion that Kyrgystan is an unknown gem of a tourist spot. The scenery is wonderful and the people lovely, if a little startlingly well endowed with gold fillings in their front teeth! Apparently an indication of wealth…….

Everything was packed up and we started our journey off the plateau. The route back was, for some time, the same as our route up and equally hard on the truck. Progress was slow as we crawled around the steep hair pin bends of the road to first the higher and then lower pass. Luckily there is very little traffic and we do not have to move over to the edge of the road too frequently.

As we reached the lower pastureland there were people in the fields with scythes cutting the hay and leaving it in heaps to dry. They must have been working the land in this way for centuries. Once again almost a medieval scene.

It is the 1st September and the first day of the school term. The school children we saw were very smart in black and white uniforms. Even the smallest girls wear black dresses with frilly aprons over the top and white bows in their hair. I think there could be the odd flutter of feathers in the woodcot in the UK if young girls up the age of 10 or 11 were required to dress in this way for school!

We headed right when we reached the valley bottom, away from Naryn and onto Kochkor. Our first stop was at the felt makers, where we had a fun lady teach us the art of felt making, quite key to Yurt living. The wooden frame of the Yurt tent is lined with felt and it is a vital aspect of the nomadic people of Kyrgystan. The felt makers were a co- operative of women from the area, so it was good to support them. No designer items for the Kyrgystan miss!

Having spent a jolly hour learning the art of felt making at a local women’s co-operative – should we ever need it – we were carried off to yet another ‘home stay’, but sadly not in the same league as our last one. It seemed that a whole row of houses had given over rooms to paying guests and our family lived in a sort of room in the yard. The view from the front of the house was tremendous – a complete range of haughty mountains with a row of hills in front. The room in which we slept was covered on both floor and walls with felt rugs and patchwork in a dizzying array of colours. Wouldn’t be easy on the eye to wake up there after a heavy nights drinking!

The afternoon was spent washing – both ourselves and our clothes. These pit stops between camping sessions are vital to our cleaning regime and help me maintain my equilibrium. There is only so much you can do with a wipe!!

Supper was at one of the home stay houses. The table was laid out in what we have come to know as the Kyrgystan style – bedecked with fruit, sweets, biscuits and preserves of all sorts. They even put jam in their tea! We tucked into soup followed by spaghetti – a little odd but good and savoury. Our vegetarian Australian ladies had a fried egg with rice. Not so exciting!

We wandered back to our room, folded our washing and prepared for another two days under canvas.

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