Unfortunately I didn’t get much sleep last night. The ground was so hard, my tent mate snored loudly, and he also woke up early in order to prepare breakfast but this gave me a chance to do a bit of walking and take some photos before everybody else got up.
Breakfast was a nice huge portion of scrambled eggs, which went down a treat, and was very welcome due to the long driving day ahead. Our guides cheered us up by telling us that we would be stopping for lunch at a service station which served real coffee. Anybody who knows me knows how much I like coffee and how much this piece of news would have excited me!
The long journey was worth it today as we saw so many scenery changes, all of which showed us something that was more beautiful than before. I have said it so many times but it is so beautiful in Kyrgyzstan and is worth the long travel days and lack of sleep. Our first scenery change was a mountain pass which we needed to travel along in order to reach our destination and, at 3150 metres, was freezing cold and covered in snow. We were allowed out to use the toilet, which was just as basic and horrifying as the truck stop I visited in Uganda a few years ago, before having some time to take photos of the scenery and start our first snow ball fight of the trip.
Lunch was at the previously mentioned service station where we set up in the car park out of the way of vehicles. My job within the group is to fill up the water tanks when we stop and this was the first place I was able to for a few days, however it had to wait as I was in need of the long-awaited real coffee inside. It was only from a machine, rather than a coffee bar, but was great. They even had almond syrup which is my favourite!
This afternoon I had a chance to sit up on the roof of the truck while we drove through a canyon and it was a perfect opportunity to see the lovely scenery pass by. This was the first time I had ever sat on the roof of the truck while travelling with Dragoman but it was great so it’s a shame we didn’t have a chance while in Africa. The journey took us along the side of a river, through a couple of valleys and past the construction sites of some new power lines that are being installed – the construction workers seemed to enjoy seeing our truck and waved when we went past. One thing that struck me today, even more so than in previous days, is the diverse and rich colours that the landscape is composed of. I’ve been to some pretty amazing places before but Kyrgyzstan is already the most beautiful country I have visited… and apparently the best is yet to come!
The original plan for tonight was to wild camp somewhere near the river but our local guides found us a home stay that was available in the nearby town of Chaek. It was a large compound that was previously owned by a local politician who was killed in some sort of accident and the workers keep the house available for people hoping to stay in the town. Toilets were the usual drop variety but we were all in one building, it was hot, there was laundry available, the food was brilliant, the power worked all the time and most importantly we had hot showers! In the west we take things like a hot shower, laundry facilities and power for granted but when you travel to places like this they are a luxury which you are happy to see when available.
Chaek doesn’t have much to do but after my shower I spent some time wandering around, taking in the sights, taking some photos and stretching my legs. Some of the group stocked up on supplies in a local shop and apparently the prices here are the cheapest they have seen all trip so I’ll have to make sure that I buy anything I need before we leave tomorrow.
I sat on the porch of the house chatting to a few of the group while waiting for dinner and it was nice to be able to get to know some of them more. I haven’t connected with anybody as much as I did on the Africa or Central America trips yet but they’re a good bunch of people and are fun to travel with. We chatted some more over dinner, which was sit-down style in the large dining room. The food was so nice that we asked for extras to be cooked to take with us for lunch tomorrow!
At the moment I’m sat on my traditional bed in the room reserved for the guys. The others are mainly outside drinking on the porch but I’m ready for sleep so decided not to join them as we leave for Song-Kul lake in the morning and I’m really excited so want to be awake!