We arrived in Bishkek at 5 a.m. this morning. The locals seemed to want to get off the plane very quickly  and were pushing their way to the front of the queue. Negotiating our way through customs was painless. As we entered the arrivals hall our driver was directly in front waiting for us. He led us out to the carpark  where we waited until he brought the car around. The drive into town was interesting with very little traffic on the ride. On arrival at B Hotel we were greeted at the front counter and taken to a lavishly appointed room.
After a much-needed hot shower we made our way to the restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast choices  consisted of a choice of hot and Continental Foods. Coffee is made for you and was strong and well received. After breakfast we returned to our room to unpack and rest.
After couple of hours sleep we ventured  into the city centre to find a Bank and by a buy a towel that we forgot  to pack. After asking a policeman, we got directions to a bank. Aling the way we found a fantastic little eatery called  Gloria coffee Lounge. The food here was fantastic along with the drinks and the prices. For a three-course lunch with a fruit and lemonade drink and a strong coffee the cost was $26 Australian.
The remnants of the soviet-era is still evident. This city has several monuments relating to Wars and conflicts but a lot of Western influence is making its way in. The parks are clean and green end very well maintained. One pocket that we ventured into was showing a very artistic influence with Lamppost sculptures and wrought iron work in abundance.
We finally managed to get some local currency from an ATM with an English option. The exchange rate is 49 Som to $1 Australian.
The people here are friendly and willing to help despite the language barrier. 

Day 2 Kygyzstan Rest Day

We decided to do some more touring around Bishkek today. There are quite a few museums to visit and we started with the Zoological Museum. We walked from the B Motel  to the museum, a distance of about 2.5 km .  Along the way we found an underground  shopping mall.  The mall seemed to focus on stationary and photographic printing . There were a few food stalls & cosmetic stores  as well .  This mall is actually situated under a main intersection  and allows pedestrians to  cross in all directions  without having to deal with traffic .

The Zoological museum is a little difficult to find  as it is just a door on the side of the building . This museum has a large collection of stuffed animals dating back to the mid-1700s. Surprisingly, the animal the condition of the animals is quite good for their age. The entry fee was 50 som or about one Australian dollar. There are three main rooms of exhibits and it is well worth the money to go and see.

We left the Zoological Museum and made our way to the State Museum however it was closed for upgrade.

Because this museum is closed we took a short walk to the MV Frunze Museum. Mikhail Frunze was a Soviet Red Army leader born in Bishkek. He was instrumental in overthrowing the white russian czarist regime and the history of his exploits is contained in this Museum. The museum is built over the top of the original house that he lived in which has been preserved in pristine conditimon. Frunze died at the age of 40 as a result of ulcerations and tuberculosis.
After we left the museum we went back to the B hotel where we had some lunch and met one of our riding companions Peter . At dinner last night we met Zelda his partner . By all accounts it looks like we are in for a great time together. Tonight we have a meet and greet with our guides and other riding companions. Looking forward to starting this adventure.

Day 3 Kygyzstan The expedition begins

This morning we took delivery of the motorcycles.  I have a BMW 800 GS and Ann has a 600 tenere. The seat height on Ann's bike is too high so we had to shave the seat and lower the front suspension as much as we can just so she can get  her feet on the ground . My bike has a few small  issues, the biggest problem is the key is not always working. The red 800 gs is  having some problems with the front  brakes. Hopefully the support crew can get it  sorted  by tomorrow.

We left the hotel at around 11:30 and headed out to Ala Archa national park. The ride out here was quite exhilarating with the temperature dropping  6 degrees from the gate to the park. We had  a picnic lunch  and everybody is chipping into make it work.

The clouds are covering the peaks of the mountains but you can still see some snow on some of the mountain peaks.

On our return to the hotel we were invited to watch  a yurt being built and asked to help out. Considering  only a few spoke English, we managed to understand what was asked and get the job done.
The bike are getting some tweaks done by the support team and should be right for the morning

Day 4 Bishkek to Chyckan Gorge

We left Bishkek much later than we should have. Our departure time was somewhere around 1pm as the bikes were still being worked on. I ended up helping as we might still be there if I didnt tell them the brakes  were cross linked and had ABS.
We eventually hit the  road and didnt waste any time getting out of the city and onto the open road. Our destination was Chyckan Gorge. This route took us through the Too Ashuu Pass and an elevation of around 3586 m. The scenery was spectacular  to say the least. Snow capped peaks surrounded us as we followed the river through the gorge. Just as we were beginning our climb we came across a herd of horses being moved along the  road. It was an amazing site and fortunately I got go pro footage that I will add when I get home.
The ride  to the top was breathtaking. A series of switchbacks  revealed different view with  each  pass.  Nearing the top we rode through a series of small tunnels  and finally one large tunnel around 3 km long. A continuous stream of traffic in both directions meant the tunnel was filled with exhaust fumes. It was great to get out the other side. Once out we stopped for some fresh air and a photo opportunity. The views didn't  disappoint.

We had to get to our nights accommodation  before sundown so it was a mad dash to get there. We still had a fuel stop to take in and ride through the plains, ger camps and gorges before our stop. We finally  arrived  just on dusk, around 8pm. Distance travelled was 245 km but it was a slow and scenic ride.

Our accomodation was basic but comfortable and warm. It is nestled alongside the Chyckan river that is a kayakers dream with its continuous rapids. The evening meal of locally caught fish and fresh salad was delicious and well received after a long day on the road.

Day 5 Kyrgyzstan Chyckan Gorge to Arslanbob

Today we head off to Arslanbob through the gorge and Ferghana Valley.
The road condition varied over the whole route from good to goat track. The road skirted around Uch Terek and the blue water was amazing to see. A few tunnels kept  our wits about us as we had tinted visors and sunglass on. We stopped for fuel and a coffee  at a road side stop and watched  paragliders making the most of the weather. The  temperature started at 12 C and ended up in the low to mid 30s for  most of the day.

A picnic lunch was planned at a secluded park on the side of the Naryn River. After lunch a few of us braved the icy water and had a dip. It was very  refreshing after the hot ride. Ellis, one of our guides reenacted a swimming pool  jump off the rocks  for  us.
After lunch we started out to our next fuel stop at Pravda. This ride took is past a lot of agriculture where watermelon and rockmelons were in abundance at roadside stalls. The smell of the rockmelons was tempting but we had to make up time to get to out homestay accomodation. The road was hectic and the traffic brought  back  memories of riding in Cambodia. Some  drivers were friendly and courteous and others thought the roads belonged to them. It was a relief to turn off  the main road and ride  through the walnut grove.
The final destination was still 55 km away and once again the view of the snow covered peaks in front of us was awe inspiring. The last 5 km was difficult and seemed to take forever. The road was a steep climb with badly rutted roads and loose rocks the size of your fist. Traction was a problem for  most and the host who was leading us to the homestay didn't help  by stopping on a slope.
Once we arrived we were allocated our rooms and took a much needed  shower. Our accomodation is very basic but clean and our hosts are very welcoming

Day 6 Arslanbob to Osh

Today we had an Excursion to the Walnut Forest and waterfalls by 4 wheel drive. The road was very challenging with rocky outcrops and washouts everywhere. It was interesting to see  everyone working the vegetable crops and donkeys seem to be preferred to horses in this area. The walnut forest is over 200 years old and is was a quiet and serene place to visit.

We then boarded the ex soviet army 4WD again to go to the waterfall. This is a popular local attraction and the path to the falls is lined with street vendors selling everything from cheese balls to wooden souvenirs. All of the locals are friendly and welcoming and despite  language barriers we somehow manage to communicate.

After the waterfalls we head back down  the hill for lunch. A lot of local produce is sold in the village and everything has a real taste unlike the supermarket produce we buy.  Before lunch  we has a wander around rhe local market. Some of  the shops  have a diverse range of goods and the local saddles, bits and bridles for the horses and donkeys  are hand made.

Our lunch consisted  of  tomato, cucumber and onion salad followed by a main course of stuffed pepper soup. It was delicious  and filling. 
Time was getting away from us and we had to get moving if were to get to Osh by sundown. It was only 180 k. But often you are unable ro go faster than 60 kph and there are a lot of speed  cameras on the roads.

We made it to our hotel in Osh at 630 which  gave us around an hour to get settled and showered before our 730 dinner.

We boarded 2 taxis to take us to dinner. The menu was interesting with horse meat being on the menu.
With dinner being done and everyone exhausted from a long day it was time to retire.

Day 7 Osh and local area off road ride.

Today was a day of mixed sealed and unsealed surfaces. We left Osh and about 70 kilometres down the road we stopped for a coffee break at a small road side stall. When we arrived we were the only people there. By the time we left there were two buses and two cars full of locals with young children, all wanting to see us and the bikes.

The young children  that arrived first we're given toy koalas from Ann and myself. Of course this meant time for another photo opportunity with the kids.
We eventually managed to drag ourselves away from all the children and head off to our lunch stop, 40 km down the road. The location was nestled between two very large hills with the river running through the middle. The ride there was just as awesome as all the other roads we've had so far.

After a lunch we headed back toward Gulcha to begin our off-road section. At first it seemed fairly sedate but the further we rode the more challenging the road became. We had everything from loose River Pebbles and shale, sand, mud, and even had a calf running alongside us for around a kilometre.

At this point I should mention our fellow riders. We have a couple from England, George and Ruth who are riding two up. We  also have Peter from  the USA and Zelda from South Africa who are both riding. And then there is Ann and me who are both riding.

Well considering the issues we had at the beginning with seat heights and other problems, all got through the  ride unscathed. The girls did a great job getting  through the hard going. Our lead rider Hugo and support Vehicle driver Ellis also  did a great job.

Once we made it back to the sealed road it was a short 30 km ride back to our hotel in Osh for  a shower, swim and rest before dinner.
Todays heat took its toll on Ruth so Ruth and George could not make dinner and both Hugo amd Ellis had work to so that left just Zelda,  Peter,  Ann  and myself for dinner.

Day 8 Osh to Kazarman

We left Osh around 8 AM for another breathtaking ride over the mountains. The ride through the built up areas was just as we were expecting. Half of the drivers were patient, and the other half in a mad rush and taking risks like there was  no tomorrow. It was a welcome relief to actually get onto the unsealed road and away from the traffic.
Life out in the mountains  never seems to be a rush like the city. People are often gathered around having a chat or are out in the fields tending the animals and crops. Even the young children help out with the chores.
Our lunch stop was only 20 km down a dirt road. Just before we stopped a young lad was standing with his donkey. Actually that should read standing on his Donkey. His balance was impeccable and the donkey was happy just to graze  while we took photos.

Lunch was some fresh bread with a freshly prepared Tuna, bean and corn salad with some watermelon. The setting was idyllic with a stream running alongside and a herd of horses coming for a drink.
With lunch out of the way it was time for some serious riding through the mountain pass.  At first, the road was gently winding and following the river. Then without any inclination, a series of switchbacks took us higher and higher until  we were riding through the snow capped  peaks.

Everytime you think you  have taken a stunning picture, there is a better one around the next corner.
Photographs dont do justice to the scenery you can see in this amazing country.

After an awesome 8 hours on the road we arrived at our homestay in Kazarman. Our host was extremely welcoming and her English was vert good. Our rooms are good and comfortable. Our meals were included and were delicious.
We can highly recommend  CBT homestay Kazarman.

Day 9 Kazarman to Naryn

Today was a shorter ride from Kazarman to Naryn. Total distance was around 210 km but when you can only average 35 to 40 kph it takes a while. That being said, there is no reason to go any faster because the views are not to be missed.

I am not really sure if the 2800m high climbs are the cause but nearing the top of todays pass left me breathless. Once again we had switchbacks, only this time they were more challenging because of the loose gravel and stones on the corners, and constant corrugations. Once we reached the top we stopped for the mandatory group photo and rest to catch our breath.
The temperature at the top was around 13C and I could see the temperature change as the elevation  changed. On the plains it was around 28C.
Our descent presented us with more switchbacks, even more challenging than the ascent. Everyone made the trip  down unscathed and the smiles on everyones faces at the lunchstop pretty much summed up the ride.

Eventually all good things come to an end and we were back on the plains and a sealed road for the final leg to Naryn.

We arrived at our hotel early ready for a nice hot shower only to find out there was a broken pipe and water was 1 to 2 hours away.😫

Ohh well at least I had time to update this blog

Day 9 1/2 update

Well the water eventually  came back on and the town rejoiced. Of course this  all happened when Ellis and I were trying to buy some micro SD cards in town. Never mind we had water again and everyone was happy. The whole town had been without water since yesterday.

One thing about eating in Kyrgyzstan, throw out the western traditions. You meal does not necessarily come out in traditional order. Tonight our mains got to the table before our soup, while others were still finishing entree and main courses at the same time while their soup arrived.

At dinner we had a cultural show by some local dancers. Of course they eventually try and get people up to dance with them. No matter how  hard they tried, they couldnt get  anyone to dance with them. The age of shivalry is not dead yet. After seeing several  rejections I got  up with them and embarrassed myself with my grandpa style of dancing. I am pretty sure they appreciated me stepping up to the plate.
If you really  must see the video. Here it is

Day 10 Naryn to Tash Rabat

This is day 8 of our ride itinerary but day 10 of our Kyrgyz  tour. Only a very short ride roday up into the mountains to  Ger camp at Tash  Rabat.  We are staying in traditional yurts for the night and were lucky enough to be able to settle in early. We had our lunch at the Ger camp  as the roadside lunchstop was closed.

After lunch we went to the old caravanserai  at Tash Rabat. It was  built betwern 1408 and 1416 and was  a resting place for travellers on the silk road. It sits around 3500m above sea level and I am having trouble breathing with the thin air.
Apart from some minor restoration work it is in suprisingly good condition  for its age. I failed to mention in earlier blogs that a lot our rides are on the old silk road route. Its hard to imagine how difficult travel would have been back in those days.

After the look in the Caravanserai we were invited  to tea with some  local people at another her camp. The spread was amazing.
On our return trip to our camp we came across a herd of horses. Ann and I had let the group  move ahead so we could absorb the surroundings and having a herd of horses pass us with incredible views was just another highlight. The sole herder appreciated us stopping for his horses and rode up to us for a photograph.

We returned to the camp where the girls and Hugo had a Russian Sauna. Had I been able to breathe properly I would have joined in but I didnt want to risk  passing out so I just waited and videoed them coming out and into the icy creek.

Our hosts appear to be Russian and Yuri has very good english and is very funny with his comments. He refers to Ann as Anya and I think he has taken a liking to her.
Apparently this is supposed to be done naked according to Yuri , but modesty prevailed, much to his disappointment.
Dinner was served at 7 pm and started with  Borsch and a type of goulash followed for a main course.  Back in our room we had a traditional Russian massage. I had parts of my body aching I didnt know existed but a few of the tight muscles werea lot more relaxed after that. It took about10 minutes to doze off after that and considering the outside temp was somewhere between 0 and 5 C it was quite comfortable on the yurt

Day 11 Tash Rabat to Song Kol lake.

We woke  at 5 am and it was very brisk out so it didnt take much  to  convince us to get back  under the covers.  After our  7AM breakfast we prepared for our ride to Song Kol.  Before we left, our hosts insisted on dressing us up in traditional garb  and dancing around the camp and asking for a safe journey and good  weather. Eventually we were ready to leave and after  a round of hugs  and kisses from all we were on our way.

Our ride was going to be mostly unsealed roads with an occasional spattering of potholed sealed sections. At first the roads seem fairly good but that was to be short lived. Loose gravel turned to loose rocks and potholes turned into corrogations. Finally we had some creek crossings and although they were small, some of the slippery clay was a bit of fun with the back skipping out at times.

Out in the country  a babysitter is hard to find for the children so improvisation is a must. We came across a donkey with 3 toddlers on its back while it grazed. Brothers and sisters were closeby playing in the field. Life is so simple and easy out here.

Our ascent to the  passes was made via a series of curves hugging the hillsides and switchbacks again. The scenery  changed  with every corner. Ann commented to me that 'around  every corner is another wow'. That is so true  here.  After several wows, oh my gods and holy Sh@#s we started to descend again.
If ever you want good brakes it is on the way down the road here. Unfortunately for Ann, her back  brake decided not to work coming into a switchback with a car coming up the hill. Needless to say the end result was not ideal. Once we got moving again and a corner  later the back  brake failed again and Ann went bush. Our support crew were right into it and found  some  air  in the back  brake lines. Ironically, Zelda who is riding the same model bike as Ann has her brakes fail no less than 1km away. I guess maintenance is not a high priority for  the company  supplying the bikes.

We eventuality  got moving again and went to refuel and then have lunch before heading  over another  pass for  our final destination. The condition of the road was pretty  poor.  In fact calling it a road is an exaggeration. Once agan we had even  more switchbacks before  we levelled out around 3000m above sea level.

We could see the lake in the distance and knew our ride for today was close to an end. The temperature had dropped  from  28C to 5.5C and a few spots  of rain had collected on our visors. We made it to our camp and the spots of rain stopped. All we wanted  now was a hot shower and hot coffee  in any order.