View from our hotel window in Bishkek, the capital.

 

The building in the foreground is the opera house which is topped with Soviet style monumental statues.

 

 

We entered Kyrgyzstan by crossing the border from the Fergana valley in Uzbekistan.

 

 In Osh we visited this interesting Islamic pilgrimage shrine on Solomon’s mountain. This little private mosque was built in 1497 by Zahiruddin Babur, King of Fergana who later founded the Mughal dynasty in India.

 

 

The tiny mosque is built over a natural stone surface with lots of bumps and indentations. They are interpreted as impressions left by a number of prominent figures in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition including Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammed.

 

Some consider this the most important Islamic pilgrimage site after Mecca. The caretaker (seated on icat mats) offers prayers for pilgrims.

 

He was very friendly but he didn’t speak English and we didn’t quite understand what he said as our local Osh guide was challenged enough in English to be worthless.

 

 

We can vouch for the excellence of melons in Central Asia. They taste better than anywhere else. On the left is one the ubiquitous melon sellers.

 

 

 

 

Above the men in the bazaar in Osh are wearing Kyrgyz hats. The hats’ shape represents the snowy mountains; most of Kyrgyzstan is mountainous. They’re really worn locally and they’re very comfortable.

 

Our Kyrgyz guide bought one for each male member of the group.

 

Juergen and David are shown on the right.

 

David, a co-traveler, “adopted” Juergen and Yvonne and then named himself Richterbashi - father of the Richters - following the example of Turkmenbashi – father of the Turkmen.

 

After the women in the group whined that they didn’t get a hat, the guide bought them white ones even though they’re never worn by women.

 

 

This monumental Lenin statue in the capital Bishkek is a legacy of some 70 years of Soviet rule. It was moved from the Ala-Too Square (formerly Lenin Square) to a place behind a museum.

 

The pigeon probably does what pigeons do.

 

So it goes.

 

 

Another Soviet legacy is reflected in the appearance of guards.

These photos were taken at the changing of the guard at a memorial.

 

 

The museum in Bishkek has interesting archeological exhibits, handicrafts and interesting old Soviet era propaganda.

 

The two murals below depict Nazi Germany (below left) and the US (below right).

 

 

 

Some 20 miles south of Bishkek is Ala-Archa National Park which is a very grand, rugged gorge we enjoyed hiking. The cold was quite a change from the weeks in the desert!

 

 

It had rained a little producing these beautiful droplets on a spider web.

 

We thought of Indra’s net (the Hindu/Buddhist concept for depicting the inter-connectedness of everything).

 

 

We stopped at this Islamic cemetery that featured little mausoleums as well as structures that supported yurts.

 

 

 

The major archeological site (about the only thing in the country not leveled by the Mongols) is the Burana tower that belonged to the city of Balasagun which founded by the Sogdians.

 

The Burana tower is a minaret dating from the 11th c. (restored in 1970s).

 

As usual, we climbed it!

 

 

 

A truly mesmerizing sight on the other side of the citadel mound, which contained the minaret above, is the collection of 6th to 10th c. balbals (Turkic totem-like stone markers).

 

We used those images for the background on this website.

 

 

We had a real nice albeit touristy dinner and music performance in Bishkek in a very cozy and fancy (!) yurt.

 

That’s the whole group with two tour guides (except Juergen who took the picture). Of the original 10, 4 went home prematurely for health reasons. The two guides are at the back of the table, Pavlov standing, was our local guide in Kyrgyzstan. Angela, sitting, was our GeoEx guide throughout the trip. She was fluent in Russian as she had been an exchange student in Tashkent, UZB, when she was in high school.

 

 

The performers were local musicians using pretty unusual instruments. The music was very beautiful and varied. They played flutes, harps, and stringed instruments – and sang.

 

 These musicians were chosen as children and trained for their entire lives. Note the nice Kyrgyz hats.

 

There are many of these musicians and they are grouped according to the needs of the event.

 

 

The end