August 11: Song Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan
9:00 Breakfast consists of warm rice pudding, three types of jam including the best strawberry jam I’ve ever had (yes, better than Edna Brown’s), fresh baked bread and steaming hot tea.
10:00 I walk about 1 km to check out an old brick barn. On the way back I meet six people from our group and together we hike another 3 or 4 km to a second brick building. It too is an abandoned barn. I’m a little worried that I may be slipping into fully retired mode since I am perfectly happy to do nothing but walk to a barn, gaze at an old concrete foundation for 10 minutes, then walk back to camp and happily call it a day.
13:40 Nine of us have hired horses and a pair of local guides for the afternoon. We set out for the mountains that line the North shore of the lake. The horses are well behaved but unlike the horses at the last camp, and the ones I rode in Mongolia, these boys come with more than one gear. Even the most gentle nudge will send them into a fairly fast trot. A full-on kick in the slats puts them into Kentucky Derby contention. On top of this, horses in most English speaking countries will respond to “giddy-up” or anything remotely similar. In Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan the horses respond to the word “choo” which makes for a very interesting ride for an allergy sufferer like myself.
19:30 Dinner at the yurt consists of mutton and vegetable soup, a big plate of rice and mutton, homemade bread (no discernible mutton), thick butter that they call cream, and of course a vast selection of preserves. Easy access to big pots of the best strawberry and raspberry jam you’ve ever tasted is not ideal for anyone hoping to lose weight in the ‘stans.
20:28 I’m in bed and damn ready for it. Trigger probably feels the same way.