Packing Day 2: Into the Foothills
If I should ever be asked on a quiz show for a million $, what the favourite Bishkekian Sunday Summer pastime is, I could answer without hesitation, It’s escaping the heat of the city and heading into the Mountains to picnic and hike to the waterfall.
So it is that we find ourselves amidst a merry throng of locals out enjoying a day in nature. We never expected to see so many cars or people and if it had been any other day of the week, we would most likely have been almost alone, but as it is, we wave and smile as we pass group after group of families and friends picnicking and braaiing along the roadside. At the waterfall, where groups of school children take selfies and whoop with excitement as they scrambled up, we are encouraged by an entrepreneurial young girl to buy some “National Kyrgyz juice” – thanks, but no thanks!
It is fun to witness the festive atmosphere and see the extended family gatherings, but we are keen to escape the madding crowds and get into the more remote areas and as we slowly climb higher and higher, the cars and people become fewer and fewer, until only the odd horseman remains.We have a sparse picnic of bread, cheese and tomatoes and decided to splash out and make some coffee ( the jet boil plunger is the bomb!), then onwards and upwards we trundle until the time comes to find a wild camping spot and we settle in next to the river, cook up our freeze dried dinner, drink our decanted wine and revel in the sounds of nature, including a herd of about 50 horses grazing nearby.
We hope they keep their distance and are quite relieved when a young herdsman appears and chases them further up the slopes – we can’t afford another sleepless night. Tomorrow we will be tackling Kegeti Pass, taking us up to 3870m…