After leaving Bishkek, I went on a tour through the nature around Lake Issyk Kul in the northeast of Kyrgyzstan. In a few days, we drove around the lake with our guide Nargul (a very cool girl, and same age as me) and driver Mossat. On the way, we slept in villages where we stayed with local families. Really great experience!
Our first stop on the trip was the Burana tower, an 11th century minaret. Itis the only thing that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun, which was destroyed by Mongols. According to local legend, the tower was used by a king to hide his daughter, because of a prophecy that she would die from a spider bite. However, she was bitten by a spider hiding in her food, and still died... Unfortunately the weather was not great, so we did not see the mountains around the tower.
At the tower, there are a number of balbals, memorial stones in the shape or with drawings of honoured ancestors. There were also stones with inscriptions in Arabic.
After a bumpy ride on the worst road I have ever seen, we arrived in the small village of Turasu, high up in the mountains. I walked around and met some local children.
Below you see the house of the family with whom we were staying: an elderly couple who used to work at the local school, and whose grandchildren were visiting from the city. We had a great dinner with some traditional bread, and after dinner the there was a 'mini-concert' with local instruments like accordeon and komuz, a two string guitar made from the apricot tree. We also sang Vader Jacob together!
The next morning we walked around the village together, and they showed us another balbal, right in front of a house. We also went to the local cemetery, where they use very beautiful gravestones, sometimes even in the shape of a yurt!
Then we left Turasu to go to the nearby village of Temir-Kanat, where we went horseback riding into the mountains. Not great weather, but at least no rain!
On the way, we met a local shepherd and his dog, Rex. Most of the families in this area live from their cattle, who graze in the mountains during spring and summer.
Before leaving f Before leaving for Karakol, we met a man who hunts with eagles. He catches them himself and releases the birds again after about three years. Currently he has three eagles in his backyard, one of which is starring in a Kyrgyz movie. The government regulates hunting with eagles and each one even has its own passport!