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Back in Time in Kochkor

After a second night at Issyk-Kul Lake we drove to Kochkor where we will spend the next two nights with a local family.

The Germans, we have met yesterday, weren’t able to repair their bicycle and therefore need to return to Bishkek to get the required spare parts. We gave them a lift to the next town where our local guide Erkin helped them to arrange transport. It took a few minutes until we found a van which had sufficient space for them and their two bicycles. I hope they will find the spare parts in Bishkek. Otherwise they will either need to continue their travel by public transport rather than by bicycle or get the parts delivered via DHL or UPS which takes a couple of days’ time.

We arrived in Kochkor around lunch time. Since we had some leftovers we decided to eat out of the truck, rather than eating in a restaurant or have our host family cook for us. We briefly stopped at the market where we bought some fresh bread, vegetables and fruit. We prepared lunch right in front of our host parents’ house and even invited them. They either didn’t like our food, weren’t hungry or too shy since they didn’t join us.

Kochkor is a very quiet town and there isn’t really anything to see. We still felt the need to go out to see and experience something and so Martina, Lauren, Paul and I went for a walk around in town. It’s very much bleakly, felt like back in Soviet times and is definitely no spot where I want to live or spend my vacation in. Many side streets were empty and the stadium looked like it’s rarely used with grass growing in areas where people are supposed to exercise or sit.

The “highlight” or our sightseeing tour in Karakol was the town’s Lenin statue where we girls got our picture taken which very much amused the locals. There were a number of other statues from Soviet time but I have no idea who those people are. Another “highlight” was the main street of the town. At least there were some people to watch. Here was also enough space to park cars and people left them everywhere, on the side of the street, in the middle of the street and at the sidewalk. Interesting were also the small shops. Some of them didn’t even look like a shop but more like a residential house with a small poster showing what’s for sale. Since there was nothing special to do we just sat down in front of a shop and watched the world passing by.

After a while it started to rain and we sought shelter in a small shop. While waiting we had a look around and found many items which you could buy loose, thus they weren’t packaged and you could freely decide on the amount to buy. Those items included sweets, pasta, rice and even margarine. As in every store in Central Asia there was also an excellent choice of vodka. In this shop the price for one bottle of vodka started at 60 Som (1.3 USD).

When we finished having a look around it was still raining and so we played a game called: “Go into the shop, buy a strange looking item and we will eat it”. Lauren was first and bought an undefined strange looking and tasting sweet. I was next and bought some stuff which tasted like washing powder but later turned out to be effervescent powder. After eating the two strange sweets we couldn’t handle any more and since it was still raining caught a taxi back home.

In the evening we enjoyed a group dinner prepared by our host family and afterwards had some drinks while watching “Little Britain”, one of my favorite comedies from the UK.

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