Central Asia, Part 3: That One Time I Camped in a Yurt

Happy 2016, all! I’m actually typing this from the lobby of the SSR Airport in Mahébourg, as I’m finally returning to the States after a two-week trip in Mauritius and Madagascar. Bless the free wifi in this airport. Even though I’m a bit travelled-out for the time being, in the spirit of the new year, I’ve made a resolution to blog more (my 2014 and 2015 self is snorting so hard right now), among other #goals. Hope all of you have had restful and fun-filled holiday seasons. 🙂


Hey! Hi! SUP. Yo. You’re reading about a trip that took place 6 months ago (May – June 2015), which means that I am sadly no longer in Central Asia. However, that trip was awesome enough that I feel compelled to write about it in a series of blog posts, because it’s unsurprisingly … kind of difficult to talk about three different countries’ worth of text and photos and consolidate that sucker into one blog entry. Also, I’m likely a) nostalgic, b) itching to travel again, c) guilty about having so many orphaned photos on my HD, or d) all of the above. Anyway, let’s do this, before I start getting random plov cravings.

Also, larger versions of all the photos can be found in my Kyrgyzstan photoset.


Out of all my #lifegoals, one of them is to camp in a yurt. Yurts are perhaps second to only treehouses when it comes to ideal overnight lodging. LOOK AT THIS ARCHITECTURAL BEAUTY. How can you say no to this.

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I mean, I certainly couldn’t.

So when Rebekah and I were planning our trip, the one thing that was practically non-negotiable was horseback riding and camping out in a yurt in Kyrgzystan. We could forgo the Door to Hell because of tourist restrictions in Turkmenistan. We could save Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, &c for another trip because of distance and visa reasons. But goddamnit, we were not going to give up this one thing.

The whole affair consisted of a drive from Bishkek to Kochkor, a horseback ride from Kochkor to the yurt, and then back again. When we left Kochkor, it was a nice, sunny morning smack-dab in the middle of May:

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The beauty above is Burana Tower, a minaret with one hell of an indoor winding stairway. Do not let that staircase outside deceive you. The view of Chuy Valley that you get at the very top is totally worth it, though.

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However, once we got on the horses, that sunny morning was no more, as I managed to experience all of the below that same afternoon, I kid you not:

  1. sun
  2. wind
  3. rain
  4. hail
  5. snow
  6. wind
  7. sun

Rinse, repeat, etc. I thought San Francisco weather had its fair share of crazies in a single day, but this really took the cake, as my fleece-lined waterproof jacket went from too stuffy to useful to not-really-useful to not-fleece-lined-enough to not-waterproof-enough to useful back again — all in the span of a few hours.

But any indication of my body thermometer going haywire was quickly dispelled as I crawled under those glorious, glorious layers of blanket inside the yurt. You want warm? Because it doesn’t get any warmer than a sushirrito of blankets curled around you like a hug from the Michelin Man, especially when it’s in the ~40s (˚F) and there’s a dog barking mercilessly from outside.

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Awww, yeah, look at them blankets.

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Of course, that was just the endpoint. I’d be remiss in leaving out the actual horseback ride, which led us into the Ala-Too mountains. Balancing a camera and trying not to fall off a horse while traversing a river is a true test of my multitasking abilities, but, hey, I managed.

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A shoutout goes to the home-cooked (yurt-cooked?) meals that I had during my trip, aka the carb-heaven goodness known as Kyrgyz flatbread (often called naan, like the Indian counterpart).

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And snaps to this shorpo (Kyrgyz soup, usually consisting of lamb) for all its tummy-warming delicious. And dill and beets, for playing a very prominent starring role in nearly everything we ate. But mostly dill.

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So — yeah. Yurts? 10/10, would do again.

9 Comments

  1. Kristine said:

    That is a architectural beauty right there! I would looooove to camp out in a yurt. And the scenery. God, everything is so beautiful. <3 I can live vicariously through your travel posts.

    Mon 04 Jan 2016
    Reply
    • Cindy said:

      I feel like you’d love the yurt experience! Everything is unbelievably gorge.

      Sat 09 Jan 2016
      Reply
  2. Liv said:

    Central Asia I think is one of the most underrated places to travel to! My relatives traveled to Inner Mongolia, China a while back and they sent me some photos of yurts! Ever since then I wanted to see one, hehe. I know that’s not Central Asia but the culture is similar! 🙂

    Just look at these photos, they are so lovely! The weather sounds crazy though, but it must be in the great unknown stretches of land! And are those PONIES? They look way too small to be horses! So cute though.

    Fri 08 Jan 2016
    Reply
    • Cindy said:

      Yes!!! Agreed hardcore. I’ve heard fantastic things about Inner Mongolia as well, as I’ve had a few friends who’ve travelled there and come back with great stories to tell.

      And yep, those horses were relatively small. The tiny one over here (https://www.flickr.com/photos/cindypepper/23441949852) was a real cutie, though.

      Sat 09 Jan 2016
      Reply
    • I have all boys and I LOVE robot prints!!! If I won this, it would get tons of use between my 2 year old currently in diapers and baby boy #4 due in October!

      Wed 22 Mar 2017
      Reply
  3. Raisa said:

    I don’t know, that yurt is totally my dream house. 😉

    Your pictures really make me wanna visit Central Asia! Everything’s so green an d beautiful, and the food!! XD I tend to space out my traveling (just once or twice a year), since I’m still growing into my profession. I’m hoping that once I’m more established I can backpack through the world. I know a lot of people who’ve done it later in life, so it’s never too late!

    Mon 01 Feb 2016
    Reply
    • Cindy said:

      I’m telling you, YOU SHOULD VISIT. I feel so strongly about this that the all-caps was totally warranted. And I agree, it’s never too late to travel. Better to go on your own time and interest than to feel pressured to travel just because you’re at a certain age, for sure.

      Fri 12 Feb 2016
      Reply
  4. Pauline said:

    Ugh, this whole blog series is #travelgoals. I love your photos too, they’ve captured the amazing sites! <3 That yurt though? WOW. I'd feel like I was in my own world ahaha!

    Fri 05 Feb 2016
    Reply
    • Cindy said:

      Thanks! Yeah, there’s something about the yurts that make you feel so far removed from real life. You’re just like, IS THIS REAL? Am I really in a yurt?

      Fri 12 Feb 2016
      Reply

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