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July 23rd 2016
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: 42.87, 74.5879

PERISCOPE UP!

Time check: 1634 Local: GMT +5 Saturday 23rd July.

Location: Bishkek: Kyrgyzstan

First internet of any description since Wednesday and my suitcase looks like a tramps carrier bag in the Hyde Park Underpass..........

Combinaton blog here I am afraid but notes were made as we went along.........

Wednesday 20th July

Time Check: 1759 Location: Chikkan -

We have just arrived at an excellent guest house located in dense forest adjacent to a fast flowing river and nestled between two high mountains. We could easily be in Slovenia or some other Eastern European destination such as The Czech Republic.

I am writing to you from a spartan but well appointed little room which is lit by 110v electricity. In the background there is there is the constant roar of the rapids only 50 feet from out front door. A lovely alpine setting.

We have travelled over 400km since leaving Osh at 0800 hrs this morning traveling via some sort of rebuilt mausoleum with an interesting statue of Lenin and other war heroes from WW2 and Russia's unsuccessful "bust up" in Afghanistan in the 1980's.

This has been a "long day in the saddle"......we have braved fast and furious driving..........overtaking cars that
overtake lorries with other lorries coming head on!

There was a minor "hand bags" this morning between Cathy and our little Portuguese travelling companion. For days she has been the "awkward one" as opposed to the "Chosen One"........hogging the front seat of any jeep.......pushing her way first into hotel lifts.......demanding double expresso coffee in a basic rural Home Stays or turning her little Hispanic nose up at most suggestions for meals..."don't zey ave croutons zor sardines in olive oil here?"............This morning she had her eyes on the front seat of Altanboc's jeep.......pack in hand she pressed forwards only to be deftly blocked by the sturdy forearm of the "Kiwi Rottweiler"......she limped off wounded and muttering strange Portuguese expletives.....

JEEP UPDATE: Those who have been following this blog may have seen a Black Land Cruiser in some of the photos. This was driven by the "steady and careful" Oscar.......a real gent who was polite and cheerful at all times. Sadly he "pranged" his jeep last night....nothing serious I am pleased to say but Oscar has been grounded in Osh whilst his jeep is repaired.
We are now on the last few sectors of our 3,000km drive. Tomorrow we are of for a "YURT" stay which will be interesting to say the least!

Time Check: 1826hrs Thursday 21st July

Location: In Yurt.....on a Lake Sonkal a desolate high plateau lake surrounded by vast mountains and rolling uplands ......we are 3000m above sea level miles and from anywhere.

All I can see are sheep, horses, goats and a few distant Yurts perhaps 10km away on the lake shore. We have spent most of the day getting here driving on tracks through high mountain passes and small villages. The sun is shining but the weather changes fast and in the distance are dark menacing clouds pressing threateningly in our direction..........perhaps some two hours away......

We are ensconced in a group of about 10 other Yurts.....there is a "restaurant yurt" and "cooking yurt".......plus 3 or 4 "wc yurts" located conveniently about 200m from our yurt.
All good fun but 1 night I suspect is more than enough........

Friday 22nd July 0730hrs:

Location: Coffee Yurt Lake Sonkal ...........H'mmmmmmm. Pleased to be up and packed READY TO GO!

It's been an interesting night.......

2000hrs.....in bed.....getting noticeably colder.....bobble hat, extra socks on.......Thinsulate gloves on standby.......Sydney stowed safely for the night!

2015hrs......our rather rustic charcoal/dung burner is lit by two cheerful yurt girls who then "pop" in and out unlocking the supplies trunk next to Cathy several times and grab handfuls of extra warm bedding.

2100hrs the generator starts up and a lone 30w light bulb "fleeps" on......good timing as we are trying to get to sleep. The yurt girls attempt to unscrew it unsuccessfully. I drift off into a chilly half sleep......two pairs of socks......bobble hat and an extra whiskery blanket now in action.

2130hrs......gentle rain starts pattering on our felt roof.....is it waterproof?......suddenly and without warning it builds to a torrential downpour accompanied by a howling gale!........the little yurt superstructure (made only of sticks and animal skins) creeks and bends whilst the pitch black of the night is interrupted by searing lightning flashes and claps of thunder that reverberate around the vast landscape. Admist this cacophony I notice that the camp dogs have started to howl and whine only adding to our sense of nervous tension......we hunker down under layers of rough bedding waiting for morning to come. My main concern during this ordeal was that our little abode seemed only to held down by two knobbly tooth picks......we are at 3,000m.......... In a raging storm......100's of km from anywhere.....OMG!......it lasted for about an hour....then as quickly as it started it stopped.......we had survived!

0130hrs........despite putting it off for neatly one hour I am forced to venture out into the clear but very cold night to visit the "wc yurt" some 200m away.......animal noises everywhere......the yurt front door is held shut by a piece of nylon string.......tricky at that time of the morning when clutching your last yard of Andrex and torch. Travelodge all is forgiven!

0500hrs........more rain + second visit to the WC yurt.....getting light......snow has fallen slightly above us.......a herd of goats getting closer.

0600hrs........"munching and snuffling" noises next to yurt........some sort of livestock is investigating........it pauses at the door flap then flomps off......

0645hrs.....our "yurt mates" Frank (don't mention zee war) and David are still comatose.....we are up and packed...........keen to be moving on!

UPDATE 1753hrs Chipon Alta Friday 22nd July

Sitting in a not too bad Modern Hotel close to a huge lake......... in the distance some 20km away I can make out the snow capped mountains from whence we made our way this morning.

The only, but not inconsiderable downside is that we have the equivalent of the M25 being constructed outside. Mud and JCB's everywhere.! This is a country where "elf and safety" are somewhat lacking having just witnessed a high tension electricity cable come crashing down into our car park with an amazing blue flash and crackle during a rather unexpected squall. Power in our hotel is out and the live cable is flapping and fizzing over the hotel sign.......no sign of any engineer!

The first leg of the journey back from "YURTVILLE" involved a 4WD driving skill exhibition not to be underestimated. We descended quickly, bumping and splashing over muddy tracks for over 1 hour passing amazing green upland with snow dusted craggy rocks that seemed only yards away. More yurts with little smoking chimneys and large groups of magnificent horses peppered the landscape.

The "yurt experience" was well worth the effort but to be frank I was looking forward to warmth and a hot shower!

The sun is now shining and we are off for our last but one "GROUP" dinner........



Additional photos below
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24th July 2016

a bit like a smaller version of 'Glen's Glory ..' but colder!
25th July 2016

Did some people forget to actually go into the shed overnight - quite some clearing up to do...?

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