Another remnant of the Soviets. This was evident especially by the railway station which had an elaborate map of the extent of the Soviet railway system and very fancy ceiling decorations – nyet to photos though. The station had an eerie isolated feeling to it, maybe it was because it had been built by Germans soldiers who were captured by Russia during the WW11. We tried to visit the museum of Fine Art but that was in a state of disrepair and other museums were either being demolished or renovated. But the gardens and parks which surrounded them were beautiful, full of colourful fragrant roses.
We stopped for lunch at a quaint restaurant called Alice in Wonderland situated outside the Library and directly two fields full of dark red roses. The light shades were lavishly decorated top hats and we were watched over by several fake flamingos. The food was delicious and surprisingly very European in flavour and service.
Bishkek – Toktogul
Today we travelled over two high mountain passes which would take us to our forest retreat by a thunderingly loud river. We travelled across the Suusamur Basin this classic Kyrgyz grazing country was dotted with yurts and caravans selling horse milk cheese , yoghurt and honey and grazing herds of cattle, sheep, goats an many herbs of horses, many which had just foaled.Wild flowers of yellow, blue, white and pink and purple washed the green hills and plains with swathes of colour and fragrance. We crossed Tor Ashuu Pass at 3586 mt, snow surrounded us again. We pushed on further to Ala Bel Pass at 3186mt before rapidly descending to Chychean Gorge. The gradients are very steep and there are many trucks slowly grinding up hill or trucks riding their brakes on the down hill run.
Before we know it we were in an idyllic forest setting with a icy aquamarine coloured torrent right on our doorstep. In fact the noise from the river made it almost impossible to hear each other speak, if standing outside.
Dinner was held around a large wooden table set with 3 large vases of freshly picked field spring flowers and herbs. Trout, beef and lamb were on the menu along with borscht. After the meal we watched another group starting to dance and the women invited us all in to particate in some traditional dancing. Amazing to think the only way of communicating was through heaps of smiles and following their dance moves. Even the guys joined in and were instructed on a horse riding dance. We all had a ball, leaving us with a warm and fuzzy feeling that people are the same all over the world when it comes to having fun.