Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A country of contrasts

We are back in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, after a Yurt stay in the high mountain summer pasture (Jailoo) and a horse-back ride across the steppes. Then we stayed at a resort in Issyk Kul, a high mountain lake. Being in Bishkek, with the traffic, the horns, high buildings and its people mostly in western dress, it hardly feels like the same country.

This is a place of extreme contrast. Crumbling old Soviet infrastructure next to new buildings, shiny BMWs and donkey carts, women in head scarves and young girls in short skirts and heels, Yurts on the summer jailoo and city streets clogged with vendors, the brown of high plains desert with the burbling of mountain streams running everywhere.

We are winding down our time in Kyrgyzstan, spending the last few days back in Bishkek. Tomorrow we will drive about an hour or so to Al Archa, a national park known for its mountain hikes and waterfall.

We leave for London early Friday morning.

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