22 July 2012

Kyrgyzstan: Chychkan, Song-kul, Issyk-Kul, Bishkek

Kyrgyzstan is a goldmine in the rough. Over the past 2 decades it has gone through quite a lot of challenges and has not been the most safe place to travel. While the safety factor in our experience was relatively positive, it still has some ways to go to attract and maximize an international tourism. We can only hope that development continues and the money that is quickly being earned from the gold mine, water and electricity trickles down to the people. It would only be just.
Rush-hour traffic near Chychkan
Friendly checkpoint guards
We met a lot of very cool people on our travel throughout the country: the Belgian bike couple, Aizada, her American friends (Karen, Jennifer and Pam), to fellow GS riders Uwe and Tony.

HJ moving through a river crossing at Song-Kul lake
As the journey would have it, we even ran into Michel and Marilou again!
Another flat tire for Scott 60km outside of Kochkor (and a Michel/Marilou sighting)
The country is a rider’s paradise. The views are spectacular and seeing/living high altitude lakes with even taller mountains surrounding them are experiences that we will never forget. Riding up 3500 meters towards the gold mine or traversing a little hiking trail towards the hot springs just above Karakol or riding to the most northeastern point, every ride was its own unique experience.
On route to Kumtor gold mine and very close to the Chinese border
Arriving into Bishkek was a culture shock from the rest of the country. We saw toilets again and internet seemed to work a little better (not much). We could see the wealth that has been amassed in recent years by the expensive cars driving around the city and the newly built homes that are just outside the city center. It is a bustling, fledgling city wanting to be something bigger than it is.
Riding around Issyk-Kul - NE point close to Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan is a majestic place with beautiful landscapes and a very rich culture. Hopefully, as it develops further, it remembers to retain its cultural identity for future travelers to enjoy.
Bishkek - one can tell this was a Soviet city given the water fountains

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