Sunday – the north shore of Issyk Kul

We woke up to the sound of rain. Not good news on a day you are going camping. We had a good breakfast and got ourselves packed up ready for the truck to return from town where it had been to collect supplies.

By the time we were ready to leave it was sunny again. We set off eastwards along Lake Issyk Kul out of town and were soon moving along a poplar tree lined highway. The lake appeared and disappeared to our left and the mountains continued in the distance to our right. Intermittently we passed rural communities of single storey buildings. The young people we passed were mainly in western dress, but the older ones were dressed more conservatively with many of the older gentlemen sporting the rather odd felt hat that seems universally popular here for the more mature man. Now and again someone would pass leading a horse or a cow.

We continued east until we reached the end of the lake and then turned north and then west and had a different set of mountains to our right and the lake in the distance to our left. After about two hours driving we turned off the road onto a dirt track that lead over meadow land to trees. Penelope pushed her way through the edge of these and turned south again, eventually stopping a few hundred yards from the lakeside. Our overnight stop.

After having a camp lunch it was time to pitch our tents. Most opted to be amongst the trees near the truck, but Keith and I decided to take the zig zag path and cross the boggy area between the truck and the water and camp on the beach on the very edge of the lake. It was wonderful – the Ritz with a sea view! The lake twinkled in the sunlight and looked far too innocent to be the place where the Russians used to carry out secret torpedo testing. We walked along the waters edge and watched kamikaze small frogs hurl themselves into the shallow waves that ran up the beach. It was lovely.

Keith was on cook duty so we had to get back for that, so we returned to the truck for beer. A fire had already been lit and the cooking became very social. Keith had found a bottle of Chiliean red wine in Karocol which added to the proceedings. Supper went down very well and we sat watching the flames in the fire for some to time before adjourning to our upmarket beach location. It was a clear night and the moon was shining on the water. It was stunning and a sight to be remembered.

Keith had been able to download some Radio 4 material in Karacol. It was rather bizarre and made me giggle that I could listen to a couple of episodes of the Archers in a tent by Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrsyzstan with the gentle sound of waves lapping the sand. Who could ask for anything more although I don’t approve of the story lines at the moment……,

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