Tuesday 26 May 2015

WAGs* on tour in Kyrgyzstan, by Liz Amann

Waiting, waiting, waiting and still the cars remain in the warehouse in Almaty, so we decide to hire a car and drive ourselves to Kyrgyzstan. Hiring a car in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan means hire both car and driver..... Local knowledge tells us that we need a car and driver to get us to the border, walk no mans land into Kyrgyzstan and find a taxi on the other side to take us to Bishkek and try to find a car/driver there.

Step one was achieved with the help of Shamil, who arranged a people mover and driver for the 3hr trip to the Kazak border, which we crossed carrying all luggage, through customs check and then negotiated a taxi into Bishkek. On the half hour drive into Bishkek, Gerry discovered the taxi driver had excellent English, so in a split-second decision we asked if he would be interested in taking us around Kyrgyzstan for a three-day road trip. He offered to take us to a restaurant first so we could talk over lunch. We knew immediately that he was our kinda guy.

The deal was done over a beautiful traditional Kyrgyz meal and we found ourselves instantly and painlessly with a car, and driver named Nyasbek or "Nick" for short, ready to take us on our journey. Nick had to ring his wife to check and organise some clothing, so we all drove with him to his house to collect his things. We were invited in for tea and to meet his family and whilst he packed we had tea and to our embarrassment were presented with gifts! Nicks wife asked who was the matron Babushka in the room and Wendy was then presented with a beautiful traditional coat, and Penny and Liz with scarves.

Promptly we then set off for Kochkor, en route to Lake Issyk Kul, driving through majestic mountain ranges, past horses, sheep and cattle, river gorges, pretty villages and snow capped peaks. The boys wanted to show us where they had stayed at a lovely B&B, Mira's House. Nick rang ahead and we were asked what would we like to eat for dinner, so we all requested shashlik. Gerry directed Nick to the B&B and after numerous phone calls by Nick we navigated to the B&B just in time for dinner, but Shashlik was too hard at last moment so we had soup, lagman, then chocolates, jam and tea. Next morning a visit to the Women's Collective for felt crafts where Wendy and Liz made very important decisions to buy beautiful carpets, wall hangings and felt handicrafts.

Laden with our neatly wrapped gifts, we piled into the wagon, and set off for Karakol on Lake Issyk Kul. On the way it got colder and rainy, but cleared for a stop and geological tour of the Seven Oxen Gorge. A flat tire delayed progress so we donated stringy cheese to boys on donkeys minding sheep and consulted the bible on where to eat and sleep for the night!

Found Jamilya's B&B by the river at Karakol, .... walked through the ancient glacial bolder field strewn with 2000 year old petroglyphs (rock drawings) at Cholpon Ata .....we then stopped at a crazy religious theme park, then on to duck shashlik at the wedding reception for lunch at Balykchy.

* In a nod to very relevant celebrity culture, we use the term WAGs (wives and girlfriends) to refer to Liz Amann, Wendy Gordon and Penny Young, who have accompanied Bill, Gerry and Ian for a few days to share the beauty of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan before the cars set off for the 2015 leg of the Bondi to the Baltic drive.


  1. so wonderful to see & read this - special love to babushka & gerard & hi to penny & ian. special message for wen if you have not seen message on fb. brenna & adam had healthy, beautiful baby girl Onyx Luna in car on way to hospital with adam the driver & jessie helping brenna birth 21-5-2015. much joy in the hunchy valley as you can imagine lv jules et jim


Thanks for your comment. It's nice to see you sharing our adventures.