Beach Bumming in Cho-Po-Na-Ta
I'm writing back in Bishkek after a great two days away from the smog and horns and burning trash that seem to make up daily life in the city. Nine of us decided to spend a few days at Lake Issyk-Kul, the 400 km wide, 700 meter deep salt water haven that is about 3 hours by bumpy bus ride from the city. Tourist season hasn't yet begun, so the small village we stayed in was quiet, and it was entertaining to watch the hustle of a town preparing for the tourists to arrive in a few weeks. We spent the days on the beach, staring into the crystal blue lake, thankful for a few days with absolutely nothing we had to do. As tourist season hadn't started yet, and the village was small, it took about a half an hour before the entire town knew about the big group of Americans staying at the lake. Everyone we passed would say, "Good Morning, hello Americanski...." (the sum total of their English). We would greet them back, and then they would giggle for about ten minutes as we walked by. It's great being notorious.....
The road to Issyk-Kul follows a river that divides Kyrgyzstan and Kazakstan. At one point the river crosses under the road, so for about 100 meters, I was in Kazakstan (very nice). The majority of the landscape is farm and pasture country, and at this time of the year is both beautiful and cultural. Individuals are in the fields hand farming the land, shepards watch their flocks of sheep with weathered faces, children fish along the river with tree branches for poles, and scattered all along the road are yurts with food for weary travelers.
Our time in Kyrgyzstan is almost over, tomorrow night we fly out to Amsterdam for a three day layover. It will be a culture shock to pay more than $2 for dinner, but the majority of us are ready to see the next stop.