9. TJ – Bulunkul & on

From the outside, a traditional huneuni chid (Pamiri house) may look like a simple mud-stone box, but inside guests are greeted with carpets that line the walls and floor; gentle curtains greet the sunshine that lightly peeks in.

We woke up early this morning at 6.30, and got ready for breakfast by 7. Breakfast served that yummy sesame biscuit again, and slightly-too-salted eggs, and of course, chai! As with every meal. And a delightful plate of sweets. THE SESAME BISCUIT -GUSHES-


The Pamiri house is normally built of stones and plaster, with a flat roof on which hay, apricots, mulberries or dung for fuel can be dried.
 

A skylight, the design of which incorporates four concentric square box-type layers known as ‘chorkhona’ (‘four houses’) representing, respectively, the four Zoroastrian elements earth, water, air and fire, the latter being the highest, touched first by the sun’s rays.



More on symbolism in the Pamiri home here

act cute face

love the carpets! the prints! wait till uzbek / iran, i know, i know
We headed to Murghab:

– Visited the Shakhty cave to see Neolithic cave paintings – with their perfectly preserved red-ink paintings of a boar hunt.



Pictographs in Shakhty cave (Murghab district)



These rock paintings are supposedly approx. 12,000—8,000 BC. Now that I think about it… These rock paintings were just… exposed, and well, lying amidst some graffiti. I remember asking CZ ‘is this the one?’ We took awhile to find it, there were other modern scribbles around. 

Approx. 12,000—8,000 BC… now that’s a really long time, quite incredible isn’t it. Such art in the past. And yet lying so casually within my reach! 

Should some preservation actions be taken? hmmmm

 

“huh???”
they were asking some question about this. i can’t remember what

Akbailik holy spring of fishes

Considering it’s a landlocked country, how did the fishes get there???? We wondered

ulu signboard

spotted some shan yang. my friends. i like! HURRAY!

ME FRIENDS MEEEEEE AND SHEEPDOG

Bulunkul – lake with fishes



bulunkul

Yashiikul – the nicer lake that looks like Almaty lake

Alichor village to sleep

Next up: Introducing our driver, Shuric

 

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8.5 TJ – Karakul

Karakul is, to say the least, absolutely gorgeous. I remember walking along the coast (?), freezing with the howling wind, but stood still at its breathtaking beauty. The silence and the calm that accompanied the glint of sunshine reflecting off the glittering sea, the frozen blades of grass / waves and the foam-like heaps of snow – I had never seen anything quite like that.

Nature’s beautiful way of blending its shades of blue and white

i love this, i remember sitting down and taking this picture, feeling a wave of calm wash over me

We met a little girl at our homestay, the daughter of our homestay owner. Dressed in white, she skipped around with a ball, kicking it amidst the sand. The wind blew relentlessly as the sand attacked my eyes. Each time the ball dropped, she would run after it excitedly, despite the brown sand that smeared across her white frock.

We dropped our things in the room, and headed to the lake.

The lake was one highlight

The yaks were another

weird

yak fur! shedding them during the winter season? mmmm. I touched them. They were warm. and… rough… stringy. like wires. hmm

^^

 

8. TJ – Karakul

The Pamirs is probably the most breathtaking roadtrip I’ve ever taken. How lucky I am, to be able to witness such beauty in the world!



The smallest, and poorest republic in Central Asia, Tajikistan is sandwiched between Afghanistan and China, andt also borders Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is 93% mountainous and has one of the world’s best road trips – the Pamir Highway.





‘The Pamir Highway, known more formally as the M41, runs 1,252km from the southern Kyrgyzstan town of Osh, through the Pamir Mountains – known as the “Roof of the World” – and along the border of Afghanistan until it ends in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Originally a northern segment of the Silk Road trading route, the Pamir Highway has been in use for almost 2,000 years. In fact, Marco Polo journeyed along this route on his way to China in the 13th Century. But few other travellers have followed suit since.’


After crossing the border the ride became significantly bumpier. The landscape remained its canvas of mountainous beauty, but the road slowly shifted to a bumpy dirt road. I watched cz’s head bouncing along with the tyres of the car. Potholes that splashed glistening droplets excitedly as we passed. The occasional cloud of dust. Welcome to the Pamirs! ‘The roof of the World’

I loved the melding of Colours here- the Browns of earth, the shades of beige, the green, the blue, the white, the peach; I love how the Colours came together, the Colours of nature.

The brushstrokes of its contours, painted in its cascading, surrealistic splashes of earthy colours.

What happened to the greenery? The vegestation? They’ve been replaced by a landscape of brown and white. Sugared mountain tops. Higher altitude now.

What a first impression, I thought. I am reminded of the fact that Tajikistan is the poorest country in Central Asia. Potholes that splashed glistening droplets excitedly as we passed. The occasional cloud of dust. As we jerked along, I am reminded of Laos and Peru and Bolivia and my long bus rides.

We entered Tajikistan. The border guards are friendly (?); they come into the car to have a chat with us. We chatted a little while waiting for our driver, and we highlighted our route. Here, I nervously stand (hence awkward distance) next to a Tajikistan officer the same age as me, married with a kid.

From Osh, Kyrgyzstan, we crossed over to Karakul. The man from the CBT office picked us up early in the morning. 

 


Crossed the border with the GBAO permit!

“Mainly because most people I have met have never heard of a “country” calledGorno Badakhshan. In fact, even some Kyrgyzs people I have met this week were unaware of the existence of this disputed state, an autonomous region that has been claimed by China, Russia and Taiwan down the years, yet the United Nations (and most people) class it as part of Tajikistan. When the civil war broke out in Tajikistan in 1992, the local government in Gorno-Badakhshan declared independence from the Republic of Tajikistan. So yes, Gorno Badakhshan should have been a new country, but remains to this day as part of Tajikistan with different laws attached to it. So you’ll need a visa/permit to backpack it!”

 

Reaching our homestay!

Exciting sights awaited!

So kul at Karakul

First described by Marco Polo

What did he see then?

 

7. KGZ – Osh

Osh!



Featuring…

Anonymous faceless bread companion

view from the beautiful Sulaiman Hill – The Sulayman Mountain, located in the Ferghana Valley, is the only World Heritage Site located entirely in the country of Kyrgyzstan It is located in the city of Osh and was once a major place of worship

​ Osh, the oldest city in the country, marked the midpoint on the ancient Silk Road, that facilitated overland trade between Europe and Asia. Do the head scarves that the Kyrgyz women wear draw from tradition, to indicate relationship status (married), or for religion (majority Muslim) etc? I’m still trying to find out 👀

The women’s dressing consists of a long and wide A-line dress, long and wide trousers paired with a camisole and a special head-dresses (worn according to age groups and relationship status) called ‘Elchek’ ‘Tebetei’ and ‘Shokulo’ .

Some carpets hanging in the sun

“Tension between Osh’s Uzbeks and Kyrgyz is what caused June’s ethnic violence. Though it was said to have been deliberately sparked off by Kyrgyzstan’s ex-President who had been ousted in April’s revolution, the roots of the tension go way further back. None of these countries, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan or Turkmenistan ever existed until Stalin drew them onto the map. The Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Turkmen existed as language groups but there was never any sense of nationhood. Stalin created these countries and drew their borders himself, deliberately making sure that each contained sizeable pockets of the other nationalities under his divide and rule policy, the effects of which are still being felt today in Osh. The Tajiks, who never existed as a people or a country, were even harder hit by ethnic violence: Stalin drew a border that created a country uniting dozens of different tribes, clans and language groups and terming them all Tajiks. After the breakup of the Soviet Union ethnic violence erupted… claiming 50,000 lives.”

Man spotted with a kalpak – The kalpak is the “holiest” of national clothing for the Kyrgyz. It has “mysteries” that many say they can feel when they wear it. This ancient style of hat seems to connect the man wearing it with the history of his fathers and the destiny of his people.

Kyrgyz respect their kalpak. According to tradition:

  • You must not kill a man with a kalpak on;
  • Kalpaks should not be put on the ground;
  • Kalpaks are laid next to your head at night, never by your feet.

There are also many sayings connected with the headgear, such as:

  • “If you lose your kalpak you lose your head”;
  • “Don’t trade your kalpak or you’ll trade your mind”;
  • “Wear a kalpak and you won’t get sick, it is warm in winter, cool in summer”

Uzbek skullcap (left) vs Kyrgyz kalpak

I can almost hear the chorus of giggles from the children as they shrieked excitedly with every periodical spurt of the droplets glistening in the sunshine

can’t remember the name of this, but it’s a typical local pastry, crispy on the outside like a currypuff filled with meat / potatoes inside. yummyyyy (but oily)

I love the tea culture there and drinking tea every meal

This is a beautiful place, photos do not do it justice. One may also find ancient cave carvings / petroglyphs

And only about 20 mins drive from the main city.

This is one of my favourite, favourite chill-out place. 1. The night with Kamila with the soft blankets and pillows, and 2. THIS – the swings, the chairs, the music. Such a great place with its ambience. I would love to set up a place like that. I told cz: If I could bring someone on a first date, this would be the perfect place. What about in Singapore?? Can I think of a place as apt?

WHAT’S THE NAME OF THIS PLACE???? I have forgotten :O :O Trying to find out now
The day next we’ll start on the Pamir highway!

 

See you again Kyrgyzstan! I think to myself as I bit into the cherry, savouring its bursting sweetness in my mouth. I want to save some for later but I can’t stop. It’s a beautiful sunny day. ☀️ I catch a tiny green worm-looking thing moving on the cherry. I stopped eating after.

 

Bye Osh!