I’m not really the most touristy person in Kyrgyzstan.
I receive questions from you wonderful people sometimes about places to visit in Kyrgyzstan and my reaction is usually something like, “Umm…I know a good coffee shop that’s a five-minute walk from my house,” even though what you were really wanting to know is which random and quaint rural village should you go to and how to get there. Most of the time, I don’t actually know this information. I would guess Lonely Planet does, I hear they (somewhat) recently updated their Central Asia edition.
It only took two years, but I could (probably) give you guys some solid tips now. For example? Kochkor is a pretty convenient midway point between Bishkek and Song-Kul. I even went to Kochkor before and didn’t know this. Kochkor is also an excellent place to buy shyrdaks (felt rugs) at decent prices, and I’ve known some people who will do the Bishkek-Kochkor-Bishkek trip in a day for the sole purpose of purchasing shyrdaks. (I didn’t buy any on this trip, I think they’re mostly only available in the spring and summer)
Since most of our travel group on our trip to Song Kul consisted of expats with 9-5 jobs in Bishkek, the plan was to leave after work on Friday, drive to Kochkor to spend the night, and drive to Song-Kul on Saturday morning. The road between Kochkor and Song-Kul, especially once you start going over the 3800-meter pass, is treacherous at times and not something you even want to consider tackling at night, so the stopover in Kochkor is necessary.
Even though it was just a small stop on our Song-Kul weekend, my stay in Kochkor was pleasant. Our guesthouse was comfortable and had a yurt set up separately from the house for meals. Lagman for dinner, kasha for breakfast, and we were on our way.
Very nice country. Maybe i will visit this republik.
The ladies of Altyn Kol Cooperative (next to the CBT office) would be thrilled to make you a custom shyrdak. Best to get one now before you ever leave, shipping to the US is a pain. Also, if you go back to their shop, ask about their KURAK workshop down the street (I hope it is still there). It was created to help preserve the Kyrgyz quilting traditions. Tell them their old Peace Corps Volunteer Trent sent you.
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