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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Uzbekistan/Kyrgyzstan - 13 August, 2002

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Fergana (Ziyorat Hotel) N4023.240' E07147.450' 589 meters .
Uzbekistan-Kyrgyzstan border (Dostouk - Friendship) . . . .
Osh, Kyrgyzstan . . . .
-  Bazaar . . . .
-  Solomon's Throne . . . .
Finish Osh (Intourist Hotel Osh) N4031.320' E07248.025' 990 meters 150 km

Total:

571 km

 

Weather: Clear, sunny and very hot.  Cool/warm at night.

 

 

Today we head to Kyrgyzstan.  We have breakfast in the hotel, load up the truck and we are off shortly after 8 AM.  It is a very pleasant drive to the border - they have done a great job in making the streets look nice.  Flowers line the streets, whose curbs have been painted white.  Then all along the sidewalks, they have planted grape vines that hang from lattices, providing shade and needed greenery.  No wonder there are so many grapes here.

 

We arrive at the Dostouk (Friedship) border crossing just before 11 AM and it takes us just less than an hour to cross over to the Kyrgyzstan side where we have to pass through five check points to enter the country.  First, visa check, then customs, followed by sanitary, then the traffic police and finally the ecological folks.  All these check points take over one and a half hours to pass through.  Plus we lose an hour due to the time zone change.

 

A short way across the border we arrive in Osh and stop at a small, local street side cafe for lunch.  The usual - shashlyk.  We also try a noodle soup that is excellent.  Overall, one of our better meals.

 

Kyrgyz02_CD03_30_web.jpg (50324 bytes)

Then onto the famous local market that stretches for five kilometers along the river in a narrow strip.  We are dropped off at one end and wander through the market to meet the truck at the other end.  It is a great market.  Lots is for sale, but not too much for us tourists - mainly stuff for the locals to live off of.  But the people are very friendly and colorful.  They love to talk to us and to have us take there pictures.  We have a great time interacting with all the people in the market, including the local "crazy" that accosts us.  But others come and gently pull him away.

 

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At the end of the market, we find the stalls that sell the typical local hats that the native men wear.  They are really cool - tall and white with, usually, black embroidery.  They even fold flat for easy packing.

 

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We, of course, have to pick up a few.  They are about a dollar a piece (depending on the quality).

 

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We return to the truck and hang out while the cook groups go shopping.  Locals keep stopping by and chatting with us.  Asking where we come from, what we are doing there and just being friendly.  We love all the gold teeth that many of the older people have.  Their grin is one big gold sparkle when they smile and flash their teeth.

 

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Once the cook groups come back, we load up the truck and head off to Solomon's throne.  This is a small mountain that hangs over the city that was supposedly visited by King Solomon and by Prophet Mohammed, who prayed here.  It is therefore a very holy place.  We hike up one side and at the top we visit the small shrine that has been erected on the spot where King Solomon prayed.  We enter the shrine and there is a small ceremony by the caretaker.  He then shows us the indents made in the rock by the many knees and foreheads of the visitors to the shrine who come to pray here.

 

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On our way down on the other side where we will meet the truck, we stop off at a smooth rock where they used to sacrifice animals, but now people slide down to see if they are faithful or not.  We pass above the huge Muslim cemetery, look into the strange Historical-Cultural Museum (a shocking Soviet construction where a hole was blasted in the side of this sacred mountain and covered with a curtain of glass and metal that is now falling apart) and then meet up with the truck.

 

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We then head off to our hotel, but first stopping off at the park in front of the Regional Administration Office where there is a huge statue of Lenin gazing over the city of Osh.  It is amazing how these Lenin statues have been left standing in this former Soviet Republic.

 

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We the arrive at the old Intourist Hotel in Osh.  It looks just like the Intourist hotels that Lars stayed at when he visited the old Soviet Union back in the late seventies, just much more run down over the last twenty plus years.  The lobby is really depressing and it can only get better from there.

 

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The room is very basic, but it works.  The bath tub is leaning like the tower in Pisa and the tiles are cracked all over, but the water flows and we get a warm shower.  Then it is out for dinner.  We are told to turn left and then we will find a place to eat.  Well, we follow these directions and discover two small cafes.  We enter and they seem quaint (the chairs are old wooden movie theater seats), but we have a bit of a language barrier.  We do not know what they serve.  In the end, we go into the small kitchen in the back, and all we can see is eggs.  We decide to move on.  We finally find a restaurant that is open and head in.  It is dark (the lights do not seem to be working) and we are led to one of the empty tables.  The menu is all in Russian, so we try to order some stuff with hand signals - in the end we get some great soup, bread and drinks.  They light some candles for light and we are able to see what we are eating.  We get back to the hotel and work on our journals.

 

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