For the first couple of weeks of the summer of 2012, Robyn and Zoë headed to Australia to visit Robyn's mom, and I headed to Kyrgzstan with Dave to travel.

Kyrgzstan was a great place to travel. Easy, cheap, friendly and beautiful. 94% of the country is covered by mountains. We saw almost no tourists in the two weeks we were there (less than 20 for sure.).

We flew into Almaty (in Kazakhstan), took a 4 hour shared taxi ride to the capital of Kyrgzstan (Bishkek) and then visited Karakol (for trekking) and Song Kol (for horse trekking.)



     The Kyrgz people seem rather ambivalent about the recent USSR. There are still lots of Soviet statues around.
A day hike just 45 minutes from the center of Bishkek.   Crossing a sketchy stream on our day hike.
We were lucky to catch a game of "buzkatshi" at the national stadium in Bishkek. I've been trying to see this game for years. Basically it's horse polo using the carcass of a goat. In this picture, you can see the goat being tossed into the ring the serves as an end zone.   The selection of cheese is not the best, but there is always a lot of choices in the vodka section!
Dave and I hiked up, and camped in, Karakol valley. We found an awesome spot and Dave was a real boy scout at fire starting!   I was the 3rd person of the year to hike over the Ala-Ko pass near Karakol. This was my campsite at 11 thousand feet above the frozen Ala-Ko lake.
The snow at the top of the pass was deep! I frequently sunk in up to my crotch - it was exhausting! Despite the snow, it was actually warm outside and a beautiful day.   On the other side of the pass, I met up with Dave, who had hiked and driven around the pass. This valley had some great hot springs.
Some disused logging equipment we encountered hiking out of the Arashan valley.   Duck tape is miracle stuff! Here Dave used it to doctor up some blisters and hotspots.
This animal market near Kachkor was as entertaining for it's people as it was for it's animals. It was a huge market without a single other tourist- pretty typical for Kyrgzstan   Our yurt stay for the first night of our 3 day horse trek. The yurts belonged to the family of our guide.
The scenery in central Kyrgzstan was very different but also beautiful, lots of open rolling hills.   My horse was very slow! I often walked it when I got tired of being on a horse.
Morning time was a hive of activity at our first yurt stay. 1) Milking the animals....   2) slaughtering this goat right in front of our yurt - 20 minutes prior to this picture this goat was alive and well...
3) and making butter ( the fresh butter and bread was so good!). This was the mother of our guide. Like many of the older Kyrgz women we encountered, she was very warm and friendly.   For some reason Dave's horse would just periodically stop in the middle of nowhere! It also was some reason compelled to stop and sniff every turd it encountered!
Descending into Song Kol lake after crossing a pass.   Our stay at Song Kol lake at 9000 feet was sunny when we arrived (picture left), but it snowed over night, creating a beautiful landscape for the morning.
Dave and I often passed our downtime playing yahtzee, cards and reading. The beer in Kyrgzstan was surprisingly good!