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Hiking and White Water Rafting on the Chong Kemin River

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Kyrgyzstan is the country for the outdoor enthusiast. While our stay in Uzbekistan mainly consisted of visiting Islamic buildings, Kyrgyzstan is about hiking, horseback riding and staying in yurts. Many of us were looking forward to this change in order to return to a more overlanding style of travel and get some physical exercise.

This morning different people went on different activities. Alistair, Wayne, Chris, Paul and I went on a hike together with our local guide Radik. Jason, Sam, Martina and Helen went horseback riding, Isabella was having a look at the local flora and all others had a sleep-in.

Our hike lasted five hours and led us towards the top of the mountain range behind the small village we were staying in. Radik has never been to the area before and got rough instructions on where to go from the manager of the campsite. I’m not sure if he led us to the most scenic spots in the area but I didn’t care too much since I was glad to simply move again. The older boys, Alistair, Wayne and Chris, went quite fast on the uphill part of the path so the younger ones, Paul and I, had to struggle. It’s not we are unfit but Alistair goes on a hike on every! day in his live, Wayne every weekend or so and Chris is a trained mountain-biker. They simply have more exercise in walking uphill which was amazing to experience.

The hike itself was pretty scenic. First we walked through the village with its basic houses and yurts. Then we went uphill to a viewpoint where we had a nice view on the village below us. Continuing from there we found ourselves in the middle of meadows, trees and snow caped mountains. During our hike we also ran into a number of animals including cattle, horses and a snake which I wouldn’t have expected here at 2,200m altitude.

After a quick lunch six of us went white water rafting. I was a bit exhausted from the hike and therefore not really in the mood for rafting but since I had signed-up for it, I thought I’ll better go. Radik and the manager of the campsite joined us as well so we were eight people sitting in one boat. The difficulty of the rapid was classified as grade 3 (out of 5 available) so it was pretty easy to navigate and more like a nice afternoon on the Chong Kemin River than an extreme sport. The manager of the campsite even took a couple of phone calls while rafting and after a while we started joking if he has that many girlfriends calling him. We spent about two hours paddling on the river and even managed to get wet. Only parts of it were waves, the remaining water came from us splashing water at each other.

While we were away for our activities, our driver Sam was maintaining the truck. He somehow seems to enjoy lying underneath the truck and getting filthy. He also seems to enjoy posing for photos with his big spanners.

In the evening Emilie arrived from Bishkek where she has submitted her application for the China visa. I’m glad she’s with us again also because Andrew is sick and so she can help me cooking. I asked a number of people if they have an idea how to prepare the dish Andrew wanted to cook consisting of spaghetti, tined tuna, mustard and yoghurt. Nobody seemed to know and nobody seemed excited of me trying to cook it. So I decided to open some tined vegetables and Emilie and I cooked a vegetable based sauce going with the spaghetti.

After dinner it was poker time again. I seemed to have infected some people with this fascinating game. Sam even asked me to suggest him some books to study the game.

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