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Ernst's Velotouren

Bicycle tour 2008 - 2013
First stage Switzerland - Thailand
Part 7: Ysykkol Tour, August 2008
Picture: Goverment building in typical Soviet style in the center of Bishkek.
Picture: In the bicycle workshop of Juganov Oleg. Due to missing original spare parts the people know to help themselves with a lot of semi-professional handicrafts. Here Juganov is shortening the freewheel by one millimeter because the cassette had too much play.
Picture: A yurt in the guest house Nomad's Home, a famous traveller meeting point in Bishkek.
Picture: A baker in the outskirts of Bishkek.
After a week I finally received the new visa for Kazakhstan and continued my trip towards the mountain lake Ysykkol.
Picture: Fruit sellers along the highway from Bishkek to Lake Ysykkol.
Picture: How long I haven't seen mountains and gray sky! After all these weeks in the plains under the torrid sun it is a pleasure to ride in such a weather.
The Lake Ysykkol (literally = hot lake) at a height of 1609 meters is beside Lake Titicaca in South America the worldwide largest mountain lake (178 km long and up to 60 km wide). This beautiful lake is also called "the heart of Tienshan". Despite harsh winters - even colder than -20° C - the lake never freezes. It is said that the slightly salty lake has some hot springs on its ground.
Bild: A rainfront over Lake Ysykkol.
It can be hardly avoided to get invited to drink Vodka travelling through the countries of the Ex-Soviet Union. At least one or two glasses have to be thrown down the throat before the host is satiesfied. Vodka does not help much riding bicycle but it becomes much funnier with it.
Bild: Kyrgyz Vodka.
The autumn is already coming in the heights of the Tienshan end of August. Last night the mountains over 3000 m height received the first snow of this season.
Picture: Fresh snowfall in the mountains behind Bokonbaev.
Picture: Beautiful views along Lake Ysykkol.
Picture: Along the shore of the Ysykkol are many very lovely beaches. The water of the huge mountain lake is amazingly warm.
Picture: Beach in the tourist place Tamga.
The ride along the lake Ysykkol is probably one the most beautiful stages of the whole trip so far. The landscape changes every few kilometers and uncountable bays with lovley beaches offer always a reason for a short break.
Picture: Exciting ride along the Ysykkol.
After I reached the eastern end of the lake I crossed a green valley on my way back to Almaty, roughly 2000 m above sea level. As a preparation for the upcoming harsh winter the stockbreeders are transporting the just harvested hay to their home to feed the animals during the winter.
Picture: Transporting the harvested hay.
Many farmers also kept their animals (sheeps, goats and horses) during the summer in this valley. Now in the autumn they all return back to their homes somewhere around the lake.
Picture: Shepherd on horseback.
Picture: The last kilometers through Kyrgyzstan east of the Ysykkol. What a beautifiul country!
Picture: A look back from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan. I hope to come back one day.
Many people in the region love to drink "Kumis", a "milk wine" made of natural fermented horse milk. Kumis contains a bit of alcohol (about 2%), is slightly sour, prickly, refreshing and with a taste of almond. Due to its high content of vitamins and minerals it also serves the people of the steppes as a substitute for fresh fruit and vegetable.
Picture: The driver of this car spontaneously gave me a bottle of Kumis and some horse cheese, offered me friendly a lift (which I kindly refused) and wanted to be photographed with the bicycle before he took off with his car. Short encounters of this kind are always very cordial and a big pleasure.
Picture: Back in Almaty
There are days which are like christmas and birthday together! I still can not believe that I really got a chinese visa! Wow! But I still don't know if the land border between Kazakhstan and China is open again (was closed during the Olympic Games) or if I have to take an airplane to Urumqi, the capital of the autonomous chinese province Xinjiang. The next days will show it...
Bild: The chinese Visa! Wow!
Luckily I read in the internet that some days ago some german cyclists had succesfully crossed the border between Kyrgyzstan and China. This is really good news! So I applied for a new visa for Kyrgyzstan and rode back to Bishkek and then through the Tienshan and Pamir mountain-range to China.
Picture: A lonely campsite besides the highway.
Picture: Frank from Holland, 61 years old and an enthusiastic intercontinental cyclist. He is on the road since several months and rides also to South East Asia. We have meet between Almaty and Bishkek.
Picture: Back in Bishkek. The trip continues as planned through the Tienshan and Pamir mountains. Hurrah!
Next page/ Part 8: Kyrgyzstan