It's been a while since our last blog so time for a quick catch up.
At the end of our adventure in Tajikistan we arrived in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. The original plan was to travel up to Bishkek to get our visa for Uzbekistan and then visit Samarkand and Bukarah. After more than 2 months on the move we were a bit weary of rushing through both countries in the 9 days we had left before flying to Europe from Almaty in Kazakhstan. Instead we decided to take it easy for a while and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of Osh.
Kyrgyzstan is a cool place. On the way in from Tajikistan we had already noticed that due to its lower altitude the country is much warmer and greener than Tajikistan. I guess as a result of this the land seems more fertile and the farming richer. Immediately after entering the country the desert like highlands of Tajikistan made way for the lush green mountain pastures of Kyrgyzstan, dotted with Yurts and "thousands" of horses.
The country side life style seems similar to Mongolia and although we did not trek through the centre of the country the travel guides suggest that the nomadic lifestyle of families travelling from place to place with their life stock and family Yurt resembles that of the Kazakhs and Mongolians living in Mongolia.
Osh is a very relaxed town. Near the end of June the summer had already set in with a vengeance and the 30 degrees Celsius was a good excuus to find a pool to hang out in. We got a good deal at the Nuru Hotel so we just lazed around for 7 days; visiting the markets in the morning and swimming in the afternoon. The markets were big and colourful and I really enjoyed moving from stall to stall with some loose change in my pocket to gather our daily groceries.
There isn't a lot of sightseeing to be done in Osh but we did visit mount Solomon which lies in the centre of town. It is one of the main Muslim pilgrimage places because the profit Mohamed spent some time here. Despite its prominence in the Muslim religion it was very quiet but the track to the top does provide a wonderful view over the city. Although Osh is one of the oldest cities on the silk route there is surprisingly little (or hardly any) old buildings around.
Although the mountain road from Osh to Bishkek comes highly recommended, we didn't feel like another 10 to 12 hours winding through mountains in a jeep or minivan when the plane tickets are the same price or less. It was a quick trip from Osh to Bishkek airport, a taxi to the Western bus terminal and a minibus from Bishkek to Almaty in Kazakstan. The border crossing from Kyrgyzstan into Kazakstan was very easy; you walk through the two check posts while the minivan waits for you on the other side.
By now we were looking forward to the European leg of our journey. After soaking up some more of the 35 degree heat in Almaty we caught our plane to Amsterdam looking back at a fantastic central Asian adventure. I loved the scenery, the relative simplicity and relaxed lifestyles of the nomads. The hospitality of the Kazak and Kyrgyz people was genuinely heart warming.