Study tour in Alay!

On 25th of September, the representatives of several tourism companies, headed by KATO representative - Myrzabek Ozubekov left Bishkek in the direction of the airport to get on the plane and after 40 minutes to finally arrive in the city of Osh. The weather was beautiful. In Osh we were greeted by Talant (coordinator of CBT Alay and Visit Alay project) and Munar (the director of Biy-Ordo guesthouse in Osh) and taken for breakfast. We breakfasted with tasty, fragrant local samsas (meat peis). From the airport we had two tourists (the newlyweds) Meg, a native of Canada and the Turk Suleyman who joined us for the trip (the story of their acquaintance was of course interesting to us, but I'll tell you about it some other time). 

First on the agenda was a visit of Chyiyrchyk Pass (2406m), from which horse and hiking tours could be organized. In the summer CBT puts a yurt camp here and what is most important is that the food and accommodation along the routes are carried out in yurts, which reduces the cost of the tour, as there’s no need to carry sleeping bags, mattresses, take porters and horses for the luggage, and it is worth a lot.


Another stop was at Gulcha village. Here we saw a couple of guest houses and went to the village of Kyr-Kol, where we had a delicious beshbarmak for lunch and stopped at a house of a local craftsman. A huge number of animals, birds, snakes, carved wooden chairs, sofas, tables, saddles and other. We were surprised by the striking realism of fauna representatives created by the master, and were haunted by the thought that all of this needed a huge amount of time and effort. After walking through the rooms of the house and filled by aesthetic pleasure, we peeked into the storage wizard, where he kept the things that didn’t have enough space in the house - a beautiful carved hangers, saddles and untouched material. It’s so great when hands are at the place they have to be, and one may make such a beauty just having a desire for it!


A few words I have to say about Murdash Gorge, which is located a few kilometers from the village of Kyr-Kol which we stopped at in the afternoon. If you ever will drive along Pamir highway spend a few minutes and check it out. Cliffs clutching a mountain road with the river on its left start almost from the very beginning. The best transport to travel through the gorge is a jeep or in extreme cases something like Mitsubishi Delica. With a strong desire and if you do not idolize your car from here you can get to the village of Kojo-Kelen, which is located 100 kilometers from Osh, on the other side. We were allowed to take a walk up the road and make a few colorful pictures.


Next stop was in the village of Sary-Tash. On Taldyk Pass (3615m) it was snowing and it was terribly cold, we didn’t want to stop, but just had to capture the moment of us being here for the first time plus we never knew when we could be here next time. Descending from the pass we were welcomed by the village of Sary-Tash in the evening light. It was cold and drizzling whether - rain, or snow, and the beauty of the mountains which was promised to us was not able to be seen. However, all our fears and melancholy vanished as soon as we got hot tea. I have to mention the hospitality of our people, wherever we stopped and wherever we went, everywhere we were treated with fresh boorsok, homemade bread, sour cream “kaimak”, sometimes especially for us the hosts baked samsas, and in the village of Sopu-Korgon (later I will tell more about it) we were even allowed to have apples straight from the tree! It was very pleasant to realize that we all have been waited for and people prepared for our arrival.


The morning was excellent and the view, I tell you, is really picturesque. Mountains appear in all their snowy splendor. Today we had a trip to the lake Tulpar-Kol. After rice porridge breakfast we visited several guest houses in Sary-Tash. Many of us were pleasantly surprised by the fact that in addition to the house of Mirbek in Sary-Tash there is a large number of good guest houses and when we came to the house called "Eliza" here we were treated with freshly baked samsas, from which we were unable to refuse although we had breakfast literally half an hour ago. We decided that next year "Eliza" guest house will definitely have more tourists than before (by the way, there is a bath and shower, which is important).

At about 11 in the morning we were in Sary-Mogol village. Here we visited the office of CBT, made photos of an interesting map drawn by hand and received a package of useful brochures and contacts. The road to the lake took us about 40 minutes. Fascinated by the beauty of the high snowy mountains we stopped to make photos and seize the moment when Lenin Peak opened and in all its grandeur was watching us from the height of 7,134 meters.


The lake is fascinating! Shallow, totally transparent, where one may see every stone, it is constrained by high mountains, reflecting the blue sky with curly clouds and white snow surrounding peaks. We had a long walk along the beach trying to make good self-photos, which could convey the beauty of this place and prove that we were there.

Not far from the lake 2 yurts were located. We were met by the hosts dressed in national costumes. No one of us could imagine that we are going to see an amazing national representation. We were shown how the bride leaves father's house, how parents approve the marriage between two young people, and how Mullah blesses them. We were shown the custom of first placing the baby in the cradle "beshik" the custom of cutting the bonds “Tushoo Kesuu”, in which we participated in the competition on the run and got the consolation prizes in the form of chocolates :)


We dined in a yurt with fresh flat bread, which local people fry in a cauldron, and a dish called "kurut." Then having said Good Bye to the lake and hospitable hosts of yurt camp, we went back to the village of Sary-Mogol and from there made a move to Doorot-Korgon, where we settled for the night in a guest house. The hostess was waiting for us already, and instead of the promised "just tea" we were served flavored shorpo. But our program for this day wasn’t over. Feeling like a sack of potatoes, unwieldy from all eaten things, we still had to visit the village of Jash-Tilek - the last village on the road from which you can organize hiking and horseback riding to the village of Kyzyl-Kiya. Having seen two guest houses and tasted shorpo with lamb meat in one of them we decided to stretch our legs and walk along the road in the direction of our overnight place. After a good walk we got into our van and drove back to Doorot-Korgon, where the dinner was already waiting for us :) (yes, yes, now you got the right impression that everything we did was eat and drive, then eat and drive again, drive and eat - because that is true). The night was fine, as soon as my head touched the pillow, suddenly it was morning.


Transfer to Osh was marked by a stop in the village of Sopu-Korgon, where we were shown a couple of guest houses, drank tea with boorsok and sea buckthorn jam, also treated with fresh strawberries and allowed to disrupt the apples from the trees and make apple SELF. We arrived in Osh by two o'clock. Once again we were fed in the guest house of Biy-Ordo, and then went to explore the city. Our guide Munar - huge thanks to him! - took us around the city, drove through the market, as we tried to find figs and delicious Osh flat bread, showed us the mosques, led us across the Suleiman mountain, showed us the area and told where to find the most delicious Osh kebab, manty and samsa . Our walk took us about 4 hours and by our return to Biy-Ordo guest house we were hungry which we have fixed with meat pies (samsas). At 7:30 pm we were taken to the airport.


Two hours later I was tired, but very pleased riding home in a taxi, tightly clutching a jar of figs.

So went our trip filled with lots of positive emotions, laughter, new acquaintances and lots of very necessary information for better job in the new season.

I want to thank Myrzabek, Talant and Munar for the excellent organization of the tour, everything was really well prepared, thanks to guest house owners, who welcomed us, fed and hosted for the night; representatives of tourism companies, now my friends - Tina Tatyna, Nazira, Sasha, Suusar, Natalia Ernist and Shavketu Aka and, of course, Helvetas Swiss Incorporation and the Aga-Khan Foundation, who sponsored this wonderful trip and gave us the opportunity to visit such a wonderful region of our country as Alai. It was great!