Posts Tagged ‘Valley camp’


Cycling down yurt valley – wide rolling, grassy hills between two distant ridges of snowy mountains. Horses as far as the eye can see. And kymys (fermented mare milk) sales direct from the yurt. And inside the yurt I look up and see the Kyrgyzstan flag – the arches at the top adorning every roof.

Yurt roof

Yurt roof

There was nothing else to eat. In Kyrgyzstan I have grown used to shops selling Snickers. Invited into several different yurts, I got offered kymys (which I can barely drink out of politeness), bread and cream (that is good), and cubes of lamb fat (which is not bad either). I passed on the little lamb foot poking up at me from the plate. Grandma was dismembering an animal (a lamb, I think), removing different organs when I entered. Later I saw it all hanging out in the sun in a big netting (to protect it from the flies) on what looked like a clothes-line.

Meat hanging out to dry

Meat hanging out to dry

Central to every yurt is its kymys container. One was in the form of a big barrel with a long-handled ladle. Another was a big pouch made from leather. Poking out the top was a wooden stick, which was to be pumped up and down to make the kymys fizzy before serving.

Kymys holder

Kymys holder

All the people are lovely, very welcoming, and very happy. They are all here in Yurt Valley for the summer before returning to their village of Talas for the winter.

Yurt friends

Yurt friends

Yurt school

Yurt school

Kymys sales

Kymys sales

And then I reached it. A service station. With everything a service station has in the west. Cold drinks. Chocolates. Chips. A comfortable modern chair and table. I blush as I breathe a sigh of relief and sink into the seat. I binge on things I maybe shouldn’t. Sometimes it’s all just too foreign.

Service station

Service station

I’m camped behind a little ridge, not visible from the road. This place is well known for bikes being stolen. All cyclists camp near here at the base of the road that climbs 1100m in 10km. I hope my spot is hidden enough.


When the climb is over 2200m (about the height of Mt Kosiosko – the highest mountain in Australia), it takes some time. Gastroniza sleeps, bee stings, icy river swims, watching milk being separated. And the ever uphill crawl. Still not at the summit yet.

Honey

Honey

Still hot for the most part (until I reached high enough), the day was punctuated by stops at some of the many many restaurants, usually followed by a sleep. I’m still never hungry, but I know I must eat. I force things down, and hope the lack of appetite is due to the heat.

When I wasn’t passing a restaurant, I was passing people selling honey. And where there’s honey, there are bees. One stung me – my first ever bee sting. For a few minutes I was worrying – what if I am allergic. It turns out I am spectacularly not allergic to bee stings.

Bee sting

Bee sting

As I got higher, the number of yurts increased. As the sun was getting lower, I was looking for a nice spot to set up my tent – all the nice spots are taken up by yurts.. ☺ So I asked if I could camp near a yurt on the river. Of course. I even got shown how to separate milk into cream and the rest. And some kymys – fermented mare’s milk.