Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Yurt Living at Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan, September 29, 2014

Once on lowland and looking back at the mountains of Barskoon Canyon, it looked like it was already snowing at the summer home of Jamagul and Myram.  Our last night outside of Bishkek, we stayed in a yurt on the shore of Issyk Kul. We've learned that the only people who now sleep in yurts are tourists. Kyrgyz live in houses.

On the way to way to the mountain guesthouse, we stopped at Fairytale Canyon for a short hike and some photography. The landscape is starkly beautiful with red earth formations. The landscape reminded me of the southwestern United States.

Once we left the mountains, we also hiked a little in another small canyon with more beautiful formations and lavender in bloom.

 This area was just across the road from Issyk Kul so the lake is visible in some of the photos.

For the night we stayed in the Bel Tam Yurt Camp. I admit that it was a very nice luxury to have a hot shower and flush toilets available, but the bedding was far more comfortable at the mountain guesthouse. Sleeping on the floor of a yurt even with a small mattress is just not comfortable.

Another interesting feature of the Kyrgyz landscape is their cemeteries. Kyrgyz are buried in round holes and covered with a mound of dirt. Sometimes iron structures resembling yurts are placed over the mound of dirt. Driving by, it looks like small cities have been erected next to the roadway with views of the mountains and lake.

Near Bishkek is a place that was a stop along the Silk Road. What remains of this 11th-century city is a tower that was used to both look for advancing camel caravans and to watch for invaders. If a caravan was spotted, the look out would light a torch to guide the caravan toward the city. Burana Tower has been renovated, but being here gave us an idea of what the look out would have seen ten centuries ago.

A semi-excavated city surrounds the tower and some archaeological artifacts have been arranged near the tower.

Next stop along the Silk Road for us will be Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

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