Bilderverkauf aller 50 km / Pictures on Sale every 50 km

Monday, October 19, 2009

Yaks, Freezing Outside, Warm Kyrgyz Jurt at 4000 m close to Afghanistan

22th of September:


We leave Murgab in the morning wanting to reach the lake Zor Kul at the border to Afghanistan. We leave the Pamir High way and follow some dirt road to the south through wide valley seeing 6000 m high peaks located in Afghanistan. Dark clouds approaching, it is getting freezing cold and not snow more like very fine ice falls. Not much but I am worried a little it will get more. Going over a little pass, driving in a side valley with better weather let me feel a little bit more relaxed. The white street in the map is impossible to find. Again, only with the Russian military maps I can find the way. We are almost alone, after 50 km Off-road I ask a woman for the direction. She is collecting grass with her daughter. She looks scared maybe not seeing foreigners so often in this remote region. Anyway, I hope that I can trust my GPS and go on over 4300 m high pass. Again it is starting to snow a little. On the "Way" are two other lakes and since Kotomi got motion sick and we both feel the height of over 4000 m we decide to stop at a lonely Jurt. We get invited and stay there overnight. The evening is approaching and the Jurt fills up with all family members. The mother her sons, one daughter with her husband and kids. They all come back with their Yaks and goats from fare away meadows. In this height they use donkeys instead of horse.


We get to see how they make their bred and noodles. Everything is self-made only ones a week a Kamaz truck comes and brings some flour or necessary things. They appreciate that I speak some Russian and I am because it is very interesting in that way. They tell me that they stay here only 2 months. It is not much compared to the Song Koel Nomads in Kyrgyzstan with only 1000 m difference but 6 month summer! The wide plateau is half Tajik and half Afghanistan with no fence. I guess they even cross the border during day time with their herds since it is just some hundreds of meters away at least as seen in my GPS map.


In the light of the oil lamp we eat all together, the oven gets filled with a lot of Yak shit and we all go to sleep side by side in this windy freezing height.



Hot SPRINGs and Pamiri Hospitality

20th – 21th of September:


On the “street” from Kyrgyzstan to the first “big” village Murgab we did not see any car. We are driving mostly on asphalt not the newest but still quite good. Left of us is a long fence to China in the middle of nowhere. I wonder who would cross the border in this height, but I guess if you have something to hide you would try to cross here. But we just see mountains small rivers and even no sign of Jacks. There is not that much food in this desert like landscape. In the map Murgab looks like something big. But it is just a small village at the end of a green valley, a little bit less cold than at the Karakul. We change some money on the market where we still can feel a strong influence of the Kyrgyz culture. More than 50% are still Kyrgyz in this part of Tajikistan. The people are friendly and describe us the way to the hot springs we want to go. We just drive on some kilometres in the green valley. Here we decide to make a camp at the river. The mountains around us look like desert. Only at the bottom of the valley you find strong and hard grass. The soil is covered with salt again since water evaporates faster in this height.


Next day we go on and stop at a farmer’s house. He is Kyrgyz and drunken, but at least he can explain me the way. “Cross the bridge to left, go straight and left up the valley. After that come back and have a tea.“ Just 5 more kilometres a bad stony way and we are there. The valley narrows here and in the end is a small house in which two pools are. In front there is a Jurt and a green house with tomato and paprika. Even in this height but thanks to the hot springs. We meet our first Pamiri people. They are students and are born in Murgab. Now they just came back to their home town to celebrate the end of Ramadan. The pool I just filled with fresh water. The water is really stimulating and helps to heal the muscle pain of Kotomi. She was writing Blog the days before in the tent with her back in the cold.


In the bath I met Ismael. He invite us for Tajik Шорпо and tea. After this we go back with him to Murgab. On the way back his “Taxi” an old UAZ bus almost loses his wheel since it is just fixed with 3 instead of five screws and the car is heavily overloaded with people.


In his home or better in the home of his sister’s husband in Murgab we get to here his story. He is was married with Russian woman and also has two kids. He stayed in Moscow 8 years but he could not stand the heavy drinking of the people and also the drinking of his wife. He got divorced and now some kind of searching Single working from time to time in Russia. 3 month legally and after that illegally just paying some bribes to the police if they catch him. Later we recognise that Tajikistan is heavily dependent on the family members which working in Russia and sending a lot of this money back to Tajikistan to support there families.


We met his sister and husband who are working in the mountains for 4 months. He is working in the hunting business. In the area around here they hunt the wild and white Marco polo sheep. After four months mountain they just come back and have to prepare the house for the soon approaching winter in this freezing height of 3600 m. Self-made bread Нан, marmalade and Конфекты again. Some tapes of Tajik music with Queen in between. We go to sleep again thankful about the hospitality in Central Asia, this time at the end of the world in Tajikistan.

Welcome to Tajikistan and Tooooooootal SILENCE

19th of September:


We are in the Pamir Valley and approaching the Kyrgyz check point, which is located in a great landscape. There are no problems at the Kyrgyz side. There are still some kilometres to the Tajik check point. We are driving in a wide valley where in front of us a wall of ice builds up. I see my first Jacks which look like a mix of goat and cow. They are the only animals domesticated in this height by humans, same as in Nepal. We go up to our first pass with more than 4000 m, the Kyzyl Art pass with 4280 m. We are drinking a lot to avoid altitude sickness, but still we can feel the height in our head. Also the car “feels” the height; it seems he got like a cough, less power and black clouds behind us. Just some meters after the pass we are welcomed to Tajikistan from a soldier. The usual procedure starts. Passport check, custom ....  The custom declaration is made inside a dark container on the bed of the custom officer. After custom we go to the next container and some people custom, police, private people .... no idea fill out some documents. They say we need to have them when driving in Tajikistan and we should never pay again somewhere else. Again different money. This time Someni. Some 80+50 Someni to pay and we go on to the Karakul lake. One more pass with 4000 plus and we are at the lake at around 4000 m. Clear Sky, the lake is surrounded by high mountains and the grass at its shores is covered with the salt of the lake. If I said that we experienced a total silence in Kazakhstan in the mountains, then I was wrong. Here at the Karakul there was really no sound. Even the sound due to a soft wind; Noooooooothing ..... the head feels like numb, actually all the body and just the gravitation let me feel not to be on the moon. There is no sign of life around; just us and surreal impressing scenery.


Monday, October 12, 2009

The Chinese Empire

18th of September:


The road we are driving is quite good. The street is financed by a Chinese import/export Bank. Some parts are still under construction and of course a Chinese and not a Kyrgyz company is building here. The Chinese build the street for "free". That means they get the right to dig for natural resources in Kyrgyzstan and at the same time they can use this street to bring a lot of their products in the country. Dozens of Chinese trucks are on this road. Apart from this we get to see a landscape which looks like in a theatre. Sometimes it looks like a collage of three different landscapes. And each landscape is printed on a big paper wall and set one behind the other on the stage. In front green canyon, behind some small mountains of 3000 m height and behind some rough/sharp mountains made of rock without vegetation but some snow with more than 3000m. We are coming closer to the Pamir. I was really looking forward to come here, which is like one high light of this journey.


We arrive in Sary Tash fill up again all tanks with Diesel. In Tajikistan the Diesel price will be 5 times higher than here, at least in the Pamir. In Sary Tash it is already quite cold 3000 plus meter high. Out of the village on the Pamir valley we find a nice sleeping place with a view on Peak Lenin which is almost 7000 m. In this landscape we still have 3G Internet connection, sending our last messages from this amazing place in Kyrgyzstan. Tomorrow we will start to Tajikistan which is from here only a few kilometres. 


(N 39.64032°, E 73.23988 °)


Fu** Police Part II

16th of September:


Again I want to take a mountain road to the South which is plotted in my map. But the people explain me that this road does not exist. That means I have to choose the next bigger one but also this one is quite a dirt road going over a pass which is 3000 plus meters high. Most probably this road can not be used in winter time. This means that this part in the middle between North and South is almost disconnected. We mostly drive through narrow valleys along Jurts, gaining height in hours by winding up the serpentines. One time we come to a bigger village where I am asking a drunken Mercedes driver for the direction. Here it seems not to matter what they do. As long as there is no asphalt there is also no police.  He can not tell me the way since he is too drunk but he is still driving. I guessing my way and in the next village I get at least the main direction from a girl which is washing the carpet on the short piece of asphalt they have here in this village. From now on I just ask for the direction to Ош since the small villages in my map have all other names and especially the young people do not know these names. The older still remember the Russian names. We are coming down in the wide Fergana valley which reaches until Uzbekistan which is actually already very close now. Coming closer to the city Jalal-Abad, the third biggest city after Bichkek and Osh, we get again stopped by the police. I see him taking money in his pocket from another driver. So I am thinking ok what they want this time. Anyway he just asking where we come from and he gets friendly when he recognises that I come from East-Germany. He is one of the many we met who has also done his military service in the Sowjet Union times in the former GDR. For this time we are again released without a problem. We stay just before Jalal-Abad in a corn field.


(N 41.02636°, E 72.98614 °)


17th of September:


Ош is our destination for today. In our map it seems that we are actually driving through Uzbekistan. Along the streets we see a lot of Chaihana. It looks like a bed with a carpet, in the middle there is a table and above you have something like a roof. Here the people drink their tea or eating something. We read that this Chaihana is very typical for Uzbekistan. But anyway the South of Kyrgyzstan is anyway a melting pot of Central Asia.


We go on and some kilometres before Ош a car in the opposite direction gives a light signal, which normally mean that there is police. Anyway I am driving all the time very slow. As usual the police stop us and want to have all documents. When he has all documents he gets suddenly serious. He tells us we were driving to fast. I tell him that it can not be true. We go to the guy whos is the officer here. He shows me his radar and the display shows 66 km/h. He does not wear police clothing; he is fat and tries to look as angry as he can.  He wants to tell me that I was driving 66 km/h. He want to have my driving license and also the papers for the car and always telling something about deportation of the car and the documents. The other one is smiling and tells us we could enjoy our holiday here also without the car. Then the good cop bad cop game is starting. The “good” one tells me that the other one is bad but it is his boss. His boss would forget everything if he gets 100 USD. I tell him that our speed was not 66 km/h. But how can I prove it. It is impossible. Well than he says maybe it was 40 km/h and because there is some blue Village sign we can only go 30 km/h. Hmmmmmmmm what should we do?! I ask for his name, to make him afraid, Kotomi asks to contact the embassy. Suddenly he just wants to have 1000 Som, around 20 EUR. I want to have receipt and then he tells me it would be 3000 Som ???!?!?!? Well finally I gave him 20 USD. But anyway I am still angry on me that I did! I should have just waited there and finally I could have proven my speed with the GPS data. But these two guys were a fu*** perfect and criminal team of Police mans. They know how to rape their own people and also foreigners. The way to Ош I really drive slowly and these guys still make me mad. I knew it before we started this journey, but it is really ridicules. Anyway in Ош we get the food for the next 2 weeks since we are not sure how easy we can get anything in Tajikistan on the Pamir highway. We eat some Лагман in a Chaihana and drive out of the city. Almost exactly one week after our last Баня we find here again one, but this time really nice and hot. After the Баня it is already dark and we are driving in direction of Sary Tash, finding after 100 km a place in a valley at a river. 


(N 40.25673°, E 73.41695 °)


Sunday, October 4, 2009

6030 and Time Travel

14th of September:


In the morning Kotomi has a short ride on the horse and we go on in the direction of Osh. Between Song Koel and Osh the streets are more off-road like and it will take us some more days. Again we go down through a green valley and almost in the end of the valley we decide to make a stop under the tree beside a very clean river. Two cowboys’ Жыргалбек and Шайлоо come and we are starting a chat. They are very gentle and help us to make a fire where we cook some tee and our noodle soup. Шайлоо is really interested in our kitchen and the spices we have. Most spices are to strong for him but the curry he would like to try. We give him some and he tell us he will try it with potatoes the night which they will stay up there in Song Koel. With the horses they will need around 2-3 hours. Anyway they are not in a hurry. Жыргалбек is around 50 and tells me that his kids studying in Bischkek but he like this life here with his horses, sheep and some cows he has. From time to time he sell a sheep and that’s all he need. I ask him how it is working with the land he needs for his animals and if he has to rent it or if it is his own land. He tell me that he need to pay around 600 Som for one hektar per year For his 10 cows and 50 sheep he has 10 hectare that are spread over this mountain area. This day they want to go up to Song Koel and bring their animals down to the village before the winter.


I also ask him about the grey eyes of most man and ask if it is because of the water or missing vitamins. He explains it is because of the Wodka. After helping us to fill up the water we have to try some kind of self-made beer БОЗО.First we can not remember the name and than he says just remember sixty thirty 6030.


We go on to the village Куртка and cross the river Нарын. We choose a white road in our map which seems to be shortest to go on to Ош (Osh). Along the Нарын you have a wide canyon, where the "walls" of the canyon are from sand formations which are created by the water which is running down from the Snow Mountains in spring. Sometimes it looks like huge elephant feet which are shaped in the sand. The road gets a dirt road, we go down to the river and make our camp in total silence just the wind and the river. We are sitting there at our fire and we both have the feeling that we travelled back to ancient times. In each moment we expect that Jesus comes around the corner followed by a Shepard with his sheep herd.


(N 41.43488°, E 74.74663 °)



Grey Eyes and The First Jurt Stay

13th of September:


We are driving through the valley and pass several small villages. We try to get a Нан (Indian bread) but everybody is baking own bread. The only thing you can get is Wodka or Конфекты. In a bigger village we can get what we need. Although there is a lot of water in the river, the valley itself is just covered by grass and you can find some trees along te river. It is very dry which means that we also can get only a view vegetables. The valley gets wider and more desert like. Thanks to the Russian military maps and the few local people we met on the way we find the dirt road which will lead us to the 1500 m higher located Song Koel. We driving through the steppe and in front of us a mountain chain builds up. The entry to the valley which will lead us to the pass of the Song Koel looks like someone used a sword to cut it in the rocks. At the entry of the steep valley a guy from a farming house waves to come in. There we find two young families with there kids. We get the obligatory tea, marmalade, butter, Нан and finally Шорпо (Sheep Meat Soupe with potato and some spices). Some other guys join and they all have like grey eyes. I recognised this already with a lot of mans I met when I was asking for the way. Later I found out that the grey eyes come from heavy Vodka drinking. Anyway one of the young fathers Касен ask us if we can bring him, his wife and his small daughter to his house which is just a few kilometres more up the valley. Since we have not enough space we put the baby car and Касен at the roof of the car and his wife and daughter share the seat together with Kotomi. Before we leave I buy a Кумыз  from him and we climb up with the car to around 3000 m. It is getting cold and quite windy on top, the valley was still warm and green. After the highest point we drive through hilly grass covered landscape, from time to time a Jurt, a lot of horses and sheep. We can see the Song Koel (Koel stand for lake) already some while before we arrive there. We look for a place at the lake, it is windy and cold. A drunken man, again with grey eyes, comes to us and explains we better not stay here. We decide to go on and find a tourist Jurt camp for the night. The woman who runs the place is very nice and we decide to stay there. Compared to our tent which would e very cold at this windy place the Jurt is like heaven. It is filled with warm carpets, and since there are not many people we have one Jurt for us alone. On the carpets there are 4 colorfull samt mats, the same which are used when sitting around the table. The brother of the lovely woman heats up the oven with cow shit and it gets cozy and warm inside the Jurt. Kotomi is really happy and now she want to have a Banja and a Jurt when we are in Germany. It is really nice in such a Jurt, it feels very cozy and comfortable. The night cost per person 250 Som (60 Som is around 1 EUR). 


We decide to have a meal together with some other tourists from Germany, Swiss and Austria. Today’s meal is fried fish. Since long time we did not eat the fish and we are happy that meal is not only meat. After the meal everybody has to sing something. For the lovely woman and her mother it is not difficult to find a song. The Austrian guy sings a funny drinking song, the German some folklore song and Kotomi and I really can not remember a song completely what a shame. The translator of the tourist group explains us that such a Jurt cost around 1000 USD. From the money they make in the 6 month summer up here they bought last year a Jurt, since renting the Jurts from other people also cost them a lot of money. To bring all the things back to their village Куртка before the winter is approaching they have to hire a truck which cost them 10000 Som. Basically they combine the nomadic life with tourism. They still have their cows, sheep and horses. The horses you can rent for 100 Som/hour. (N 41.75747°, E 75.12183 °)

Relaxing out of Bischkek in a nice Warm Valley

11th-12th of September


During breakfast a 60 year old cowboy comes with his cows. He has the traditional Kyrgys cap on his head and his face is brown from the everyday sun out there. We have a nice chat and he explains that in his village a lot of Germans lived before. After independence of Kyrgyzstan most of them went back to Germany. Finally he gives his horse and I have to bring back 3 cows which are on the wrong side of the field. That was fun, but it was also nice weather. He has to be out there every time, does not matter which weather.


We get our things ready and before we leave he explains us the way over the mountains to the lake Song Koel. Even so almost al the streets are in our map it is sometime hard to navigate especially away from the main routes. I have two maps where in both the villages names are different to the ones that are written on the street signs. But mostly there are even no signs. Anyway everybody knows where to go, so way but stupid street signs. That means in most cases I ask the people and they still know the old Russian names of the villages that are written in my map. But it is useless to show them the map since mostly they can read only Cyrillic.


94 % of Kyrgyzstan are mountains. A little agriculture in the valleys with the good water of the mountains, in the mountains they have there Jurts and animals during 6 month summer. Kyrgyz and Kazakh have the same father but two diffrent mothers some say. Both are nomads, but the Kyrgyz went into the mountain and the Kazakh went into the steppe. We want to go South, which means we have to cross our first mountain pass of around 3000 m height. The road we choose is the main connection between the "developed" North and the "undeveloped" South. In the winter North and South are almost separated during the high mountain ridges. We driving up through a really narrow valley, which I do not want to pass in the winter. Even in the summer you can see small stone avalanches. I guess in the winter this road has to be closed very often. In the end of the valley we go 1500 m up in serpentines. To reach the other side you have to drive through a tunnel which is just below the snow covered mountain ridge. Being on the other side you are in another world. Along the way down to a wide plateau you pass several Jurts. Most of them sell Кумыз and Курут. I buy one bottle of this Кумыз and it is since long time, since we made the trip with Арман in Kazakhstan, a really good one. We fill up our water tanks with the water from the melted snow and go on the plateau. Since we want to go to some mountain lake in 3000 m height we are leaving the main road with go to the south to Osh. We turn left the asphalt disappears and we dive into a steep and narrow but hot valley which leads us to the East. In one village I just see a woman taking out her self-made Нан (Nan, White bread, same as in India) from the oven, which is in the garden behind her house. I ask if I could buy some. Really fresh and tasty. In this region almost all people make their own bread. In most of the small магазин you can only get sweets and alcohol, but no bread. We go on and find a nice place in this warm valley, under the trees, beside the river. Here we stay one more day, washing, repairing, and I was writing almost 4 hours Blog about our time in Kazakhstan.     


(N 41.92558°, E 74.15661 °)


The Youngest Consul

10th of September:


Again we go to the Tajik embassy. It is open and a young friendly English speaking woman gives us all the documents we need. We also ask fro the GBAO permit which we need to travel along the Pamir Highway. No problem, we can get it everything here Visa and permit. Waiting 3 days it would be 50 USD for a 30 day Visa. Well actually we are not in the mood to wait so long in this town Bischkek. It is just a town and we the expierience with the police was not that nice. Normally in remote places this does not happen. I ask carefully if it would be possible in one day and she says yes but it is double price for the Visa. It is a lot but finally we decide for it and we can pick it up in the evening. Coming there in the evening everything is ready and we have a small chat. She is actually the Consul and everybody tell her she is quite young. I guess she like it since she is a woman. Anyway she tells me that a lot of foreigners come here to get the Visa and the GBAO permit. Unfortunately she always gives the permission to the foreigners, but she never had the chance to visit the Pamir. She has just 2 weeks vacation the year and she spend it in Duschanbe with her family.


It is time for Баня and we find one almost in the center of the town. It is in a yard where kids jumping around and laughing to see foreigners in there Баня. Well it is not such a good one not so hot and quite smoky. It is better then nothing and the people have something to laugh. We drive out of Bischkek to the West which is tomorrows direction. We sleep again in the steppe, this time without to pay to the police. (:)


(N 42.87424°, E 74.38038 °)


Fu** Police Part I

9th of September:


We go to the Tajik embassy in the morning and we are "lucky" that this day is a national holiday in Tajikistan. This means the embassy is closed. Anyway I have to do an oil filter change at the car and we decide to do all the shopping today. So first we go to the car market to buy oil and air filter. There we have some Шорпо(Meat, vegetable soup) and плов. We have a lot of time so we decide also to go to the Bazaar. First thing there the police check us for drugs. They check really everything to find something. It seems there are a little bit sad not to find anything. I guess normally foreigners with some drugs are quite a good source of income, in terms of bribes.


We drive into the mountain side of the town to make the oil change. We find a good place, but after some while Security shows up and ask what we are doing here. They explain us that the area close to us is part of the Dascha of the Kyrgyzstan president. I ask if he is already at home to say hello, but they say he always just come at the evening. Anyway the Security guys do not care about the oil change and just asking for some cigarettes.


The oil change is almost finished and it starts to rain.  We or better I decide to drive into direction of the other side of the town into the steppe. This was a bad decision! Not because of the rain, I was right it was no rain there. I went with the car over a cross where I had a yellow street light. Well, in Germany this is ok. Here the friendly police guy wanted to take away my driving licence. It is dark and I am really not in the mood for this game, but anyway, he asked me what would I like to pay that he forget. I do not know and I still try to discuss with him and to excuse that I did not know. But there is no way, they are corrupt and they just want to have money. Finally I have to pay 500 Som. But we sleep in the steppe without rain (:)).


(N 42.88286°, E 74.41338 °)



Welcome to Kyrgyzstan

6th of September:


At the Kyrgyz border post we have trouble with Kotomis passport as expected. They want from her a Visa, which she actually does not need. But after 5 mins we are in, the Custom is very friendly and helps to fill out everything. Basically he wants to chat; he just stood up from his bed when we came. At this border post not that much to do, which may make him bored and sleepy. Finally everybody want to have a present, Kimono, or Ikebana!?, or anything. The guy is hungry; so he gets some horse speck from me and everybody is happy. It is getting cold and windy in this height. Following a line upward with your eyes Green changes suddenly to White, green grass of the meadow until the LINE where the snow starts. Below there are some Jurts, cowboys and their herds. In this valley they mostly have these wagons instead of the Jurt. It is more modern, but some people told us later that it is much colder and less comfortable then in a Jurt.


Before it is getting dark we find a place 200 meter below the snow line which promises us a cold night.

(N 42.74661°, E 78.95669 °)


7th of September:


The day before we made the camp on Nuriks ground close to a small river. He has its wagon and his animals 100 m above us.  In the morning he visit us and we have a short chat. He tells me that he as an average salary of 200 USD/month and with the money we bought our Landruiser he could be trunken 100 years he says. Nevertheless he likes his job in this nature where he stay from may until end of September, with his horses, cows and sheep. In the winter time he will go down to his village close to the lake Issyk-Koel. Koel means lake in Kyrgyz, in Kazakh it was Kol.


We driving through the valley in the direction of Issyk-Koel, at a check point we have to pay a fee of 500 Som (ca. 9 EUR) to enter a National Park with our car. We take a mountain route to go to Karakol, the next bigger town. This time the herders mostly live in Jurts. We meet the first herders with the traditional cap siiting proud on their horses and bringing back the sheep herd to the village.


In Karakol we are getting a new SIM card and some money. This time the money is called Som. It reminds me at a collegue from universitty whos abbrevation was always Som. Everything feels a little bit more like in Russia. We decide to drive around the lake at its North side. There we meet a Japanese who is biking from China to Europe. It seems he is not in the mood for a conversation and his travel is more a challenge or an escape from something in Japan we think. No need for any contact with locals or other people. But maybe we are not right!


We find again a wonderful camp side directly at the sandy beach between the snow capped mountains of the Altau in the north and the Tian Chan in the South. We are surounded by sanddorn which will be our Vitamine C supply for the next months in Central Asia, where we could find it very often.


(N 42.68808°, E 77.65602 °)



8th of September:


We are driving along the North side of the lake. New buildings, hotels and advertisement for hyper modern luxury houses which will be build along the way. In between traditional villages, donkeys, and grandmothers selling the vegetables from the garden. After the lake we have to drive through a wide valley/canyon on our way to Bischkek. We just sleep some kilometers before Bischkek.  (N 42.89255°, E 74.81908 °)



Again WHITE Streets and The meat HELL of Kosh-Doeboe

15th of September:


Our camp was after Ueguet in this amazing landscape. In our map from world mapping project there is a street which goes on to the West and later to the South which is our main direction to go to Ош that is the melting pot of the South of Kyrgyzstan. Well this road suddenly ends in the river and may have been used 10 or 20 years ago.


Some words to Maps and navigation in Central Asia:


1. Russian military maps are the best, but unfortunately I did not have from all areas.

2. Nelles map: good if you stay on the main roads. The small roads but even good roads are often not in the map.

3. World map project, mostly quite good, also have the small roads, but sometimes you can be unlucky and they do not exist.


Street signs mostly do not exist or the names in the maps are anyway different to the ones written at the beginning of the village. Easiest navigation is just to ask the people, but requires a little Russian skill.


 Well, all these problems the two guys from France and Croatia, we met this morning, do not have. They just bought 2 horses with all they had. This was exactly 520 EUR/horse and a mobile phone. There buts seem to hurt quite a lot but they told us they could really experience the life in this area by riding the horse and having shelter at the locals’ houses. Both had really shiny eyes and they seemed really satisfied with there way of travel. It is always an inspiration to meet such enthusiastic and natural people.


So we went the wrong road or a road which does not exist anymore and had to go back and choose another road. Still the roads in this area are mostly dirt roads and does not see tourist so often. I always asked in the villages for the way, mostly the mens were drunken and a little bit enjoying. The Islam is not so strong here. Actually it would be better if some of this guys would practice it. I hate wodka it destroys really a lot!


On the way we stop at a broken Moskwitsch (Car, Copy of Fiat?!). The fuel hose is full with dirt, which means every 5 km they fill up a bottle which is in the engine room and which replaces the tank. Well I give them a lift to the next village which is 50 km away. This means: 6 people, 1 Baby, 2 sheep, and 200 kg of apples on the roof of the car. During this 50 km we have to stop several times since there rope to hook up the car breaks every 5 km. We make a knot in the metal rope! and go on for another 5 or if we are lucky 10 km.


In the afternoon we arrive in the village Kosh Doeboe. Later somebody explains that it means two mountains. And it is true you can really see 2 big mountains which I guess are around 4000 m high, where the village is around 2500. We get invited to a ceremony which is held 40 days after somebody died. Normally all the family meets one more time after some relative died. The people come from Bischkek, Naryn or just down from the mountain medows where they stayed with there herds. Молдо is the head of the house where also his mother, father, his wife and the two children are living. In one room which is decorated with wall and flour carpets a long 10 cm high table is placed and around the old woman in there traditional clothing are sitting. The youngest are busy preparing tea and with serving, kids running around. Now it is afternoon and they have some marmalade, deep-fried blown up cookies and Конфекты. Молдо leaves from time to time the room and tries to convince somebody to drink with him which will continue until next morning. The younger man is preparing a stove in a side building of the yard. Here a sheep will be cooked later. Meanwhile we recognise that one of our tires is flat and I start to repair it in their yard getting many suggestions from the old mans and help during pumping from the young. It is getting evening and it is part of the tradition that the guests have to see how the sheep is killed. A prayer in the direction of Mecca is made where everybody joins. Kotomi feels that also the sheep look in this direction as it is also praying. The prayer is over and now fast, fast  ... давайте... the sheep is killed with the knife. No the first one is not sharp the second is also not working but the third finally did the job. Kotomi has to hold the legs of the sheep and meanwhile another guy is cutting of the warm meat. The head is grilled over the fire and will be eaten later by the most important persons of the night. The eyes seem to be the best part. Fortunately we are not important enough. Also the son who’s father died and he actually has the honour to eat the eyes seems not to want them and his uncle is eating them for them. The sheep is cooked 3 hours and additionally sausage and noodles are prepared. The food is called Beshbarmark and means something like eating with 5 fingers. The table is replaced by a big sheet so that more people can find space in the room. First only fat from the butt is served, followed by bones with a lot of meat. The oldest or most respected persons decide who gets which part. I always get more and more. I get scared that I have to eat all this. Some Шорпо (meat soup) and the Beschbarmark which is made of noodle and of course a lot of meat and onions. I am really not used to so much meat and I have difficulties to eat. Finally I see not everybody is eating everything and I do like this. Most of the stuff is meant to take home later what I did not know before. Between the eating we always stop when mostly the grandfather starts a prayer.


Since there too many people in the house we decide to sleep in our roof tent outside in the yard.  



(N 41.08272°, E 74.25198 °)