|Hanging around the hostel cooking pasta every day was not for us (as the other so-called travellers here only seem to do), so the 2 of us together with Ray, Kim and Hamish decided to take a trip to Ala-Archa canyon for a couple of days. The canyon is located only 30km away in the mountains and provide a great backdrop for the city. This proved to be a welcome relief from the heat and bustle of Bishkek.
We took our Mercedes taxi ride (the owner of the hostel also has a Mercedes which he uses as a taxi for guests – even more enterprising) out to the Alplager (the base camp for trekkers). After negotiating our rooms for night and a hot meal for when we came back, we set off up one of the valleys called Adygene Valley where a track leads up to the Adygene glacier.
After an hour of walking we realised the track was getting more and more precarious and became a bit more like rock climbing. We soon realised that we had taken the wrong turning - but at least we did get to see a very nice waterfall. So after scrambling back down we headed back to where there was a log crossing across the river. Shaun decided he didn’t like the look of this so jumped across instead (scaredy cat!).
The next part of the walk was just a 4-hour hike up the valley through the alpine meadows and crossing various streams. We soon realised that the glacier had retreated a long way since the maps were made so would not make it to the end. So instead Ray and Hamish went up another valley whilst Shaun escorted us girls to the terminal morraine of the glacier. We were glad we did this as it was at this point we came face to face with some Yaks (the first we had seen). They were weird looking creatures but the baby ones were very cute like big fluffy dogs. They were very timid so it was hard getting close.
We then raced back down the valley for a well-earned cold beer and some Laghman (a local noodle dish). The hostel was actually quite a weird place - we were the only ones there even though there were loads of rooms. We soon found out that it may have had something to do with the fact that there were no toilets, no showers and not even a sink to be found. The nearest toilets were some very smelly long drops about 30m away on the other side of the road (we found that these were best used early in the morning when there were no flies!).
Anyway we sat down for our evening dinner with the barmaid and her family. They were encouraging us to talk to their Grandson (Samate) as he had started learning English in school. Later more of the family came and quite a few vodkas were had. In fact we have noticed that the area was full of whole families picnicking and drinking. This was great to see – the only problem being is that they don’t seem to quite concept the idea of putting rubbish in the bins – the grassy areas around the lodges are literally full of rubbish which was a real shame.
In the morning it was a quick samsa for breakfast before a brief stroll further up the valley past the president’s private residence (we think he was there the day before as a large convoy of cars past us on our way up). We then found a North Face shop which sold cheap coats (not quite sure if they were real but they did look good quality) where everyone apart from us made some purchases (we don’t have any more space in our bags!).
Then it was back in the Merc and back to the heat of the city……………A great break all round.