Kyrgyzstan Bike-Packing Day 18 & 19: R&R
Sadly, the guest house has a group coming in tonight and is fully booked. We would’ve preferred to stay put, but after breakfast, we load up and head for the closest coffee shop to discuss our options.
A few coffees and cakes later, we follow Bookings.com to the Hillside Hotel – it’s really quite swanky, but the hosts entirely lack people skills (or maybe it’s just a language thing).
We make use of the lounge and the Wi-Fi and by 16h30 we are starving and ready for dinner. We follow TripAdvisor to The Lighthouse Café, where we spend the next 4 hours hooked into their Wi-Fi and eating and drinking our way up and down the menu, all washed down with Gin & Tonic and Margaritas. The ride back up the hill to the guest house is a little wobbly…
We debate whether we should leave our bikes under cover for the night “Nah, it’s not gonna rain”, we leave them out. Of course, it pours all night! In my dreams I vaguely register concern about my cockpit, which houses the USB port. (I usually cover it with a plastic bag at night, just to be safe), but hey, I guess it must be designed to withstand weather. I return to my slumber.
The plan is to be on our way to Issyk Kul Lake in the morning, but at breakfast Kati looks at the weather report- 12% chance of rain. To me it looks like a perfect traveling day – lightly overcast and cool. I am feeling recharged and keen to hit the road again, but my traveling companions are wary of the slightest hint of rain. They’re keen to stay put another day. It’s a democracy, so I have no choice but to change my mindset and embrace the notion of some more R&R.
We meander through the many parks, admiring the flower beds and elaborate statues, visit the tourist info office and do the rounds of coffee shops, where we chat to fellow travellers (Karakol is a hub for tourists, who are attracted to the few spots serving good coffee, like bees to a honey pot). It is interesting to compare the price of a cappuccino (120 Som, approx. R25), to the price of the piled plates of food advertised at the local restaurant opposite @ 80 – 100 Som a plate.
We eventually land back at The Lighthouse at 13h30, where we dig in and stay put for the rest of the day. We start with salads, panini and Sea buckthorn juice – apparently a superfood made from berries picked near the lake. (We not that wild about it), then proceed to waffles, banana cake and cheesecake.
A short break for the sake of decency and then we order a series of dishes in succession: mushroom soup with garlic bread, fried trout with chips, crispy chicken with chips, honey chicken with chips, teriyaki chicken with vegetables, vitamin salad, etc, etc. All this spread out over about 6 hours. This time we wash it down with delicious French wine, while Steve indulges his passion for coffee with cappuccino after cappuccino.
When we signal for the bill at 20h30, the waitress brings the menu. “No”, we laugh “believe it or not, we are actually done. We want the final tab”. We’ve been feasting for hours and the total comes to 4758 Som, including 10% tip. Ridiculous! We add on another 10% to make at R1000 and bid our fond Farewells.
As we weave our merry way home, we reflect on how wonderful & affordable this country is. I wax poetic: “If the shit hits the fan, let’s move to Kyrgyzstan. We can rent the Hout Bay and come here to stay…”
We are joyously satiated and I think we really are fully caught up now and have more than compensated for our days of deprivation in the mountains!