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Published: July 25th 2016
July 23 - Pamir Highway trip Day 12 - Karakul to Sary Mogul
Another interesting day, and our last full day together. The girls woke up early and we went for a walk to the lake before a rice porridge breakfast. Afterwards we drove off in the direction of Kyrgyzstan. The drive was beautiful again today. The valley was full of colors and rock formations. For much of the day we drove along the border with China - there is a small fence that delineates the two that started yesterday.
We got to the border quite early and just sat in the car for a long time. I don't think anyone realized it was the border. I thought it was another permit/passport check. The driver took our passports like normal, and didn't come back for like an hour. We saw him walking into one building, then another, then chatting, then the buildings again, then smoking, etc. Several Chinese truckers were parked there and then left. Lots of people on bicycles came and went. These were different than the others - they were basically on a tour, and they had vans that carried their bags and made meals and set
up tents, so all they had to worry about was the actual cycling. A much more civilized way to do it. That said, they were still bat-shit crazy, as this tour takes 5 1/2 months and goes from Beijing to Istanbul. Wow.
We did eventually drive through the border, but we had to stop at several buildings along the way. Then we drove ages before we reached the Kyrgyzstan border post. Lots and lots of time in No Mans Land. But there were marmots everywhere, and they were fun every single time I saw them. Watching us, or running away. So goofy and they constantly made me smile.
At the Kygyz border post, they were very polite and it was very easy. I did not need a visa to come here. We had to wait a while for some unknown reason, but it was fine. As we drove into Kyrgyzstan, the scenery changed quite dramatically. It was now quite green, and there were yurts and horses everywhere. Such a difference, so quickly. It did not take long to reach Sary Tash, where we turned left to head towards another small town called Sary Mogul. The appeal here is
that it has a good view of Peak Lenin, the highest mountain here, at 7200m. We got to a guesthouse and it was not nearly as personable as a homestay, but then the owner mentioned that 45 min away, he had a yurt stay at a lake. We decided to go there instead. But we stayed and ate lunch at the guesthouse while using wifi (!) for the first time in a week. Such a good feeling to be back in contact. Such a bad feeling to see what happened in Munich just yesterday.
From there we drove towards the yurt stay, and along the way we saw a bunch of people gathered. We asked to stop, thinking this could be the beginning of the summer horse games in the area. It kind of was. They were going to do something, and then have music, but we weren't sure what. We drove on, but then we stopped at another gathering to watch. There was a horse race, and we were now at the ending point. We gathered with everyone and took pictures and watched and it was great. So cool to see something that is not for tourists but
an actual cultural event.
From there we continued the drive and ended up at the lake and the yurt. Such a pretty area. We have a really good view of Peak Lenin from here, and there are yaks around. Yaks may be the weirdest looking animal I have ever seen. Like a cow that is too long, with too many parts, and a dogs tail. I love them!
We put our stuff in the yurt and went for a hike around the hills that surround the lake, and we had great views. Just so pretty. On the way back, there was a woman milking a cow and Gio asked to give it a go. She did it and then I tried. It's so much harder than it looks! But wow, cool. That lady has much stronger hands than I. They even had a little hobbit hole type cave with a couple calves in it. So weird.
After the hike we had dinner and met several other tourists staying in the other yurts, including an Australian couple that has been traveling for five years! Afterwards we took another small hike and came across some yaks with babies. We
were a little nervous that they might charge us, but it was fine.
Back at camp, we got ready for bed. The camp quiets down when the sun goes down. Spent some time reading and relaxing while the heat from the oven started to wane. Around 10pm, Gio took some pictures of the stars, and helped me to do it with my camera. Mine doesn't stay open as long as hers, so it was not as good, but it was still cool. I didn't properly learn how to do it - bummer. But it's pretty awesome, and I could see so many more stars that I can where I live. Where most people live. We even saw the Milky Way!
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