Kyrgyzstan #3

20 Jul

It’s been over two months since Patrick sent me this INCREDIBLE blog about our continued time in Kirg….Kergiz…Kiergiez….Kyrgyzstan.   I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!


The Adventures of the Chocolate Covered Goldfish – Part 3

A guest blog by Patrick

We awoke after an amazing yurt’s sleep to find a fun breakfast waiting for us in the family-style dining yurt. It was yurtastic (especially the candy!) and we had a great chat with a Slovenian couple who were incredulous when Sammi showed them the Slovenian sticker on her notebook. We returned to our yurt to gather our things, then caught a ride to Bokonbayevo (which is hard to say and even harder to spell) for our yurt-building workshop. If there’s one constant in Sammi and I’s adventures, it’s that when we find something we like we try our hardest to overdo it (#howmuchchaicanwegetifweorderinbulk), and it was clear we were going to push this nomadic tent thing until it yurts. (Hahahahahaha!, said sammi reading that just now!)

Sammi ‘quickly’ (read ‘painstakingly slowly’) uploaded her snaps at the tourism office and I stepped outside to check out the town. My ears almost started yurting as I strained to make out a sound that was emanating from down the street. “Was that music?” Knowing that I couldn’t turn to Sammi for help with the situation, I followed my ears and before I knew it I was standing under a lamppost in the center of town staring up at single speaker playing one of the most beautiful songs I had ever heard. It was surreal, and I thought about recording it before deciding that I’d just savor the moment. When you travel, some experiences are left in the perfect place that you found them…

Snaps uploaded, we met our translators (we had paid extra because we were confident having a translator would enhance the experience and give us lots of information about the local culture) and hopped in the taxi to the yurt construction site. As we passed by lots of yurtile farmland, we started to prod our translators for information about Kygry… (“How do you say it again?”). Unfortunately, they were teenage girls with a rudimentary understanding of English, so our information was limited to largely monosyllabic words. Our yurt-building instructor was an incredibly interesting guy who had grown up in the traditional nomadic lifestyle of the region (riding horses, living in yurts, chasing animals to hunt), which sounded idyllic to us but was “tiring” to him. He was happy to have settled down and didn’t miss life on the road horse. Constructing the yurt was a fascinating experience and was just difficult enough to make us want to feel like Smartbo again. We persevered and completed our yurt, and our hearts only yurt a little when we realized they were going to immediately take it down.

Yurtelling me that’s all there is to it?


Ok, it’s yurturn.


Yurt so good. Come on baby let me yurt so good.


The excitement didn’t stop with the yurt construction, as we were ushered over to the other side of the road we learned how each of the yurt parts were made. The craftsmanship was impressive! We then got a lesson on traditional bow and arrow making as well as hunting, which really proved to be a highlight. Sammi was transformed into Smartbo(w) with a traditional hat on her head and a bow in her hands.



Is that shirt hunter green?


Yurtmade swings!


Luckily our adventure wasn’t over, as we were treated to tea and yurtmade sweets by the family. Now we were in our element! The sweets were delicious and we enjoyed ‘chatting’ with our host about his life since he started hosting tourists and teaching them about his traditional lifestyle. His wife showed us some beautiful crafts that she had made, and we were both excited to leave with new slippers.


Work hard, tea hard.


We caught our ride back to town and noticed ominous clouds on the horizon. We had scheduled a horse ride for that afternoon (because you know, horses) and the weather was a concern. After significant back and forth between our tour operators, we finally decided to risk it and head to the hills for a quick ride to a lookout point. We were slightly confused when the man from the tourist office hopped into our taxi with us, but he was hilarious so we looked past the fact that the tourist office representative had just sold us a tour operated by himself. We got our horses and were immediately grateful that we hadn’t followed our initial plan to just rent horses on our own. It turns out that the horses in Kyzgry – I mean, Kyrgyzstan – just roam wild most of the time and then are ‘caught’ by locals when they want to ride them. They’re not exactly the horses we ride in the USA.


The ride to the ride.


The ride.


“My horse won’t go.”


“My horse just goes.”


We survived a brief rainstorm before enjoying a gorgeous ride up to the panoramic lookout. Sammi’s horse was great, and just followed the guide straight up the mountain. She had an incredibly pleasurable ride. My horse, on the other hand, didn’t like the concept of moving. I did a lot of kicking, a lot of “Whhhhoooooosssshhhh”-ing (the supposed command for ‘GO’), and a lot of standing still. Oh well, at least it was beautiful. I had a nice conversation with my guide about his favorite words in the Kyrgyz language after a failed foray into cross-cultural joke-telling.


“Why were you so far behind?”


The view from the top.


My guide: “Want to hear a joke?”
Me: “Yes.”
My guide: “Well it doesn’t want you.”


We tried some fresh fermented mare’s milk and watching kids play before heading back down the mountain to town. We had skipped lunch and were feeling hungry, so we stopped into a local cafe bar and ordered a delicious plate of chicken & lamb with more potatoes than we’d ever seen. We also found a strange food for sale at the counter which led to us playing one of our other favorite games: Guess What This Tastes Like!


“Spraying Beer. Beer to Drive.” Yep, let’s go there.



We returned to our yurt camp (now knowing how they were made!) for another great dinner of lamb, flat noodles, and a potato dish. We had a great chat with some British boys before a perfect sunset spent down at the beach drinking beer and dreaming up plans of starting a foundation to help people travel. We talked about life and watched the stars before retiring to our yurt for bed after another amazing day…


Yurt sweet yurt.



A foundation is born!


One Response to “Kyrgyzstan #3”

  1. Jerry O. Pitts May 1, 2019 at 1:27 am #

    That was Great ! It makes me want to build a Yurt. Thanks

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