After changing planes in Istanbul I landed in Bishkek at 5:15 am. I was tired but happy – especially when I saw my name on a sheet in the hands of a woman in a native dress who would be my guide for the next nine days, when I had passed the customs. During the trip I was a little worried about what to do, if nobody would pick me up as promissed.
After a three hour nap me, my travel buddies, our guide and our driver had our first Kyrgyzsian lunch together before we went on an excsessive sightseeing walk through the city center with its parks, buildings and museums.
One of the things that I noticed was that, despite the fact that many people are Muslims here, most of the women were dressed like in Berlin at this time of the year. Very rarely we saw skirts and scarfs.
The end of the official program for the day was a trip into the hills southern of Bishkek.
We had a great view on the city and got a first taste of what would expect us during our tour through this country: mountains, horses, dogs, datchas and every here and then a nice old Russian car.
Some people looked at us with a mild curiousity. But most of them did not care about us at all.
This was one of the reasons why I came to Kyrgizstan: Tourism had not been too excessive yet and chances seemed to be somewaht good to see a country more or less with out touristic make up. I was especially interested in the families who live with their cows, sheaps and horses in Jurts in the mountains during summer. Mostly because I had seen one or two documentaries about them but never expected to sleep in one of these jurts among them some day myself.
Most of the second day we spent in the car on the way to our first Jurt camp at the lake of Issykur. But I did not mind because what we saw on the way (driving or during the breaks) was still so new to us that I looked out of the window during the entire trip without even touching my eBook.
An hour before we arrived at our camp at 1600m above sea level, clouds started to cover the area. The day had been hot and we had been thinking about taking a bath in the (cold) lake. But since the water was realy chilly (and the beach rocky) only the brave of us ended up taking a bath.
Nature is great but I am (and probably will always be) mostly interested in people. No matter where I am - even in the most beautifull nature. Fortunatly there were enough people to shoot who did not mind (or were kind enough not to show if they did) when my curious camera was pointed in their direction.
Our first camp was perfect to get used to sleeping in the Jurts and to the heights. But it was both: busy and luxerious in comparison to what was still to come.
Upon the recomandation of our dear driver Sergej, we had bought several bottles of Cognac (produced in Kyrgyzstan) on the way and it should become a tradition to have a drink for dinner (and beer for lunch). Although I am not a big Cognac fan, I (and the others) found it very tasty.