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Update: Sun 00:30

Currently at lat/long: n40 31.337 e72 48.175

TES Guesthouse, Osh, Kyrgyzstan


A note to add to yesterday. I used the fabulous resources of both the LP and the Pocket (bloody big pocket!) Oxford RU-EN dictionary to order food in the face of no menu at the hotel (think guest house). I got kebab and bread. Very disappointing.

The hotel was quiet so the womenfolk of the hotel crowded round my table later on to find out more about this mysterious stranger. Cue translation hell. After half an hour we'd managed the "how old are you?" and "are you married?" staple questions. The 13 year old doing most of the heavy lifting.

At some points I could just about make out a couple of the words in a question they would ask me but I don't know the Russian for "Can you repeat what you just said?" so that me saying the same question in English results in utter confusion on their faces.

I was pleased at breakfast to manage to get fried eggs in addition to bread...


A gentle run through the country today.

The LP notes that the detour around the lake takes over an hour. I had misread that to mean there was a loop road round the lake and was up for a spin yesterday. There isn't. What they mean is that you arrive at the lake a few (tens) of km from where you'll be leaving it but sadly the road loops round the lake the long way.

It's quite a nice run as it turns out but it really does take over an hour to effectively get going.

After the lake the road potters about through dusty foothills without really doing anything exciting before turning south and the valleys filling with cultivated crops.

This is the edge of the Fergana Valley which is something of a highlight in the LP though seems to my (jaded?) eye just another cultivated area. I'm not heading into the valley proper, though, so I may be doing it a dis-service. I've certainly not seen the 11,000 hectare walnut forest (I'm not sure I've ever seen a walnut tree let alone a forest of them). It's hard to imagine how the valley may be so worthy of praise.

The second half of the road to Osh becomes very dull and the road a bit more rubbish with more subsidence in the road. There's a Europe Aid sign not far from Osh, that's where some of our tax dollars have gone.

I um and ah about getting more fuel then decide to go for it. A man indicates that at some junction I must go left, no way to Osh straight on. There is a sign, mid-way between two turns to the left, indicating Osh so I take the second, the GPS determined to take me straight on. Of course, in the Soviet days you could drive straight to Osh. These days, Uzbek enclaves and crazily wiggly border mean that you have to take a 100km detour round the outside.

I settle into the guest house before setting off for town to change some US dollars into Tajikistan Som and get something to eat. I head down the road for 1-2km before deciding that there is no hope for the LP map and heading back. I then find the main drag (running two-way rather than the described one-way and in completely the wrong direction) and stumble out to almost precisely the same distance as I recognise one of the very few street names displayed before being gently informed by a shopkeeper that I'd been walking south every time instead of north.

Oh dear.

Tajik Som are out of the question now and I'm lucky to get anything to eat. Osh proper is a bit more lively than Osh suburbs but not that much more. A well-tanned young couple enter the restaurant after me and I blithely assume they're American or Aussies but their plummy tones suggest something more homegrown. They seem to be part of a Mongolian rally thing and when I read the decals on their car, back at the guest house, part of some long-distance pizza-delivery thing. A worthy cause indeed.

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