Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tash Rabat, Burana, Osh Bazaar, and Ak-Sakal

It would take a good deal of time not currently available to share all the wonderful details there are surrounding each photo, but I'll post them and give you the quick captions. To see any image larger, just click.

To the right, Bambino sports the latest in Ak-Sakal finery, a gift from his family that we absolutely love (that's my coat, but his hat, I think...all he needs is the white beard). It's a sign of respect when the community or an older relative presents you with your first ak-calpak (white hat). They're good for hot or cold weather, because of their design and materials.

Below is a photo of the guards in the central square of Bishkek. Much like other such posts, they change the guards in a ceremony so elegant it looks like a dance. I absolutely loved their oversized hats, as well, but couldn't find one for sale. Not that I'd ever wear it or look anything short of ridiculous in it, but it was so stylish.

We had spent only two days in Bishkek before we hit the road in Bambino's brother's Mercedes. It was a lovely way to travel, although the roads can be so bad we got three flat tires during our three-day trip through the mountains. Here's the view we had on the way to Tash Rabat, one of the official routes of the Silk Road, so they say:

I have video of this, but no photos, so until I figure out how to transfer the video into jpg, I'll just have to rely on words to share the amazing site after we turned off this main road. There we were on a crisp autumn morning, bumping along on a small road through two high mountains, with a brook splashing over rocks winding with us, when along comes this herd of yaks and their shepard. It was the most exhilarating site. After a while down this road, we came to Tash Rabat, the 15th Century caravanseri that is now a national monument:

The inside of this stone structure is lit through a series of sky lights (holes in the ceiling), and it's remarkably warmer inside, for the fact that the strong winds are halted. It's much bigger inside than it looks from outside, with a catacomb of rooms, including a small dungeon:

On the way back from Tash Rabat we stopped once more at a farmer's place (a friend of Bambino's brother). He had just packed up his yurta and was settling in with his wife and family at their house for the winter. (From left to right: Bambino's brother holding the farmer's child, the kind farmer, his wife, Bambino's aunt, his Mom, his Dad, and some fool on a horse):

We also visited Burana (Ruins of Balasagun), the site of an 11th Century tower that's remarkably well preserved, given it's had to endure countless invasions, treasure seekers, and a major earthquake that reportedly toppled the top half of it.

The inside was very dark (you can only see it well here because of the flash), and the stairs perilously steep, so that you had to hold both walls to descend them:

Here's Bambino's Mom from the top of the tower

Unfortunately we didn't have much time to visit Issyk-Kul (Warm Lake), the massive lake surrounded by mountains in Kyrgyzstan's north. It's a huge draw for holiday makers and one of the cleanest lakes in Central Asia. It stays warm all year long (hence the name, duh), but was shrouded in rain clouds the day we visited. Still, here's the mountains nearby in the rain. We could see the snow coming down a bit each day on the mountains while we stayed in Kyrgyzstan:

Back in Bishkek, we had a wonderful time at the seemingly never-ending Osh Bazaar. If they didn't have it here, they didn't have it at all:

It was a feast for all the senses, but especially the eyes:

Let me know when you've seen enough of our holidays snaps...we have plenty more.


Anonymous David said...

Those are amazing photos! Keep them coming.

10/19/2006 08:39:00 PM  
Anonymous jec said...

Not enough yet.

10/19/2006 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger barry said...

Thank you so much for these. Keep 'em coming. Maybe you should flickr them so more people can see them? I doubt there are many images there of this part of the world.

10/19/2006 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger Hans said...

Nice pics, I would like to see more ! I had my time 2003/2004 in Samarkand,Tashkent and Bukhara. It's a wonderful world, even the soldiers look like toys and funny ;-) Hans

10/20/2006 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger kurt said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/20/2006 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Art Powerlines said...

Hi Edward

I enjoyed this post a lot. Reminds me of this quote by henry miller that a friend would leave as a closing on her email..."one's destination is never a place, rather a new way of looking at things." And I'm reminded to remember - how does the rest of the world live?

10/23/2006 12:04:00 PM  

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