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The Big Year Out-Bishkek to Tamchy

View The Big Year Out & Photos of us & Transport and bookings on TheJohnsons's travel map.

large_1842667_1346157059620.jpgBishkek to Tamchy [Tamchy-travel-guide-1019393] – Lake Issak Kul

So we now have our Chinese visa and decided as much as we had enjoyed Bishkek [Bishkek-travel-guide-1019239] it was time to move on. We had already looked at staying aroundLake Issak kul, we had so many other travellers all recommending their favourite spots, it wasn’t difficult to sort through them and choose our own!

We thought that we would start at Tamchy on our way to Karakol [Karakol-travel-guide-1019301] to renew our now fast running out Kyrgyz. Visa. So we took a taxi to the West Bus stand in Bishkek to try and either negotiate a shared taxi to our destination or take a shared minibus instead.large_1842667_13461570594858.jpgI didn't believe there was a beach at the Lake either.Oh the joy of Central Asian Taxi drivers, in fact Taxi drivers the world over, right? The bidding starts at 500com each, now LP (five years old, but have downloaded update) suggests that it should be 500 for two(hahahahahahahahahaha) So Off Angela walks to the actual bus station just a few yards away whilst she leaves me to continue with the barrage I am dealing with. Then the Taxi fixer (just about everywhere has one it seems) offers me 400com each, “OK” I think, “lets keep going”, Angela returns and tells me that the minibuses are 250com each person, but most were either full or had gone! Grrrrr, I suggest 350com each to the fixer who takes the deal and then sets about sorting us out which poor smuck of a driver was going to take us. Two cars later and we are in a car with a lady and her two children, ok, this looks good, naaah! To good to be true? It certainly is, about twenty minutes later we arrive at an old soviet apartment block and pick up two more (one very large adult) and a young boy around 8 or 9 yrs old.large_1842667_13461570605605.jpgVendor selling smoked fish @ Issyk kul Lake, we bought fish for lunch and it was delicious along with our own bread. Banana sellers and ice cream sellers too!After a bit of musical seats I am sat in the front passenger seat, Angela is sat behind me squashed against the door by the larger couple and their son and the mum and two in the back tailgate seats! Now please don’t get me wrong, we are not exactly small ourselves, but this passenger was much larger. I also had Angela’s backpack jammed in between me and the driver. This was going to be fun for the next 3.5hrs.

It was one of my more interesting journeys in so much as I normally sit in the passenger seat and enjoy the view(not my choice, drivers always seem to put me there) not so this journey. He drove like a maniac, overtaking when there was clearly no road left to overtake in, undertaking on inside on a gravel track, playing “chicken” with oncoming cars. To say I saw my life flash before me is not an understatement (several times in fact).large_1842667_13461570606435.jpgThrough the trees and a two minute walk to the Beach, what more could you want?I was mighty pleased when he announced “welcome toLakeIssakul” after handing over a toll at the end of the road. This was all after a cheeky standoff at the Benzene station after picking up the extra passengers. He demanded we pay him there and then so he could pay for the fuel (you normally pay when you get to your destination) which was ok, but he decided to bump the price back up to 500com each, errr Nyet! As they say in Russian, the fixer had obviously not bothered to let him know the agreed price. We stood our ground, as far as I was concerned the deal had been done back at the West Bus station, I handed him the 700com for the two of us and just looked away, I was so angry. He took it and fuelled up, so I guess he worked out that when I was telling him (he did actually speak and understand English) the fixer had agreed the price, I was not going to budge.large_1842667_13461570614085.jpg

We had another 30mins before we got to Tamchy, he kindly asked the couple with the young boy where they were staying so he could drop them off, but didn’t ask us. Thankfully he had stopped just past the CBT office in Tamchy to ask directions for the other family; we decided this was our moment to escape, so we did.

We crossed the road to the CBT office and were met by two lovely people there. We explained in our broken Russian/English and gesticulating/drawing pictures and using the very useful picture of a town map (drawn on paper). Two options one available in the street behind the CBT office and one down by the beach, yes I said BEACH! Ummm now let me think? Which one do you think we went for? Beach, your right, literally a minutes walk outside the gates of the homestay.large_1842667_1346157343578.jpgBanana Boats at Lake Issyk Kul, you might have thought you were in Benidorm!Heaven! We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the not so cold water(warmer than Brighton) and lying on lovely soft sand. The clouds were a little hazy, but that only helped us to not get burnt. We spent our time at the quieter end of the beach, but to be fair, even at the “happening end” it wasn’t so crowded. This was definitely a good choice. The sunset on the mountains behind us was to die for, creating stunning colours not only on the mountains, but casting a crystal clear blue reflection on the lake We need to check if we need to go to Karakol to extend our visa, that’s a phone call tomorrow, if we do then it’s off on Weds, if not I can see us spending a few more days here.


Posted by TheJohnsons 23:40 Archived in Kyrgyzstan

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