We awoke to a group of cattle herders trying to drive their cows through our campsite. So off we went from our campsite by the river by 6:30. Around 8:00 we were able to drop by a little town for some breakfast, plov again. Don’t get me wrong, the rice and meat is a nice way to start the morning, it’s just that the oil is a little taxing. Trying to get the meal was another challenge. We started out trying to get eggs, playing the same little game of charades that generally accompanies most meals. However, this time, halfway through ordering a woman at a table behind us came to our aide with a little book for drawing, a little English and a lot of Russian. It turns out that the woman, Tonya, was travelling through Kyrgyzstan and had missed her bus. She was in her late forty’s and had a pet dog and needed a lift to Biskek, so we figured, sure why not have a hitchhiker tag along. After a lot of re-arranging of the gear, we weren’t able to lift the backseat up but could at least make a level area for her to sit.
So the three of us headed off into the Tian Shen mountain range. This is a beautifully picturesque range that started with dry, scrubby desert-like mountains and levelled at a plateau that could have been in the steppes of Mongolia, complete with yurts and mare’s milk (which we were only too happy to try- verdict: ehh…it was nice to try it). Then it was a few more hundred metres up until we reached the peak, lush and green, and cloudy with spots of snow and a mountain spring rushing down beside the road. Absolutely beautiful!
Then the mountain range ended and we began to see the signs of Biskek. It turns out that Tonya lived here for a few years and was able to direct us to a nice little hotel where we can sleep indoors for the first time since Turkmenistan. Then it was off to see the sights of Biskek- one of which is a statue of Lenin that used to be at the centre of the largest square in town but has since been moved to a slightly smaller square behind a museum. The town’s alright. Sure it’s a post-soviet state, complete with drab buildings and poor construction but being the capital means that it has some very nice large marble buildings that are the equivalent to the White House and houses of parliament. We had a chance to take a mini-bus as well, which was a unique experience in itself.
Tonight we rest in our hotel, tomorrow the Kazakh border. So far we haven’t had any real trouble with borders, the Uzbek/Kyrg border was super lax coming in, and we’ve heard good things about the Kazakh border so we’re optimistic.