Crossing Kyrgyzstan

In addition to hanging out with neighbors, doing English clubs, and teaching health lessons, Volunteers occasionally write a grant to support a project in their community.  To help make sure Volunteers are good grant writers, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan hosts a grant writing/project planning seminar every year.

This year’s PDM (project design management) was hosted in beautiful Issyk Kul – the number one tourist destination  in the country.  The lake (“Issyk Kul” means “hot lake”) is almost as big as the entire Oblast of Talas.  The north shore has long, sandy beaches and the south abuts the huge snow capped mountains that are everywhere else in Kyrgyzstan.

The only minor downside to attending a conference in such a wonderful place is it’s proximity to me: not even a little bit close.  Issyk Kul is on the entirely opposite side of the country.   Not that it wasn’t totally worth it, but getting there was something of a pain.

I hadn’t been up as early as 6:00 AM in quite a few weeks and as I looked out the window was surprised by how dark it was outside.  I had to hitch to Talas City to catch a taxi by 9:00 to get to Bishkek.

“Dammit, no one is going to pick up a lonely hitchhiker in the middle of nowhere in the dark.”

I packed up my stuff, nonetheless, and made my way through the village to the highway.  It was really pretty peaceful; not a lot going on in Kara Suu before sunrise.  There was almost no traffic, but I guess I got lucky because I got picked up after only about 20 minutes of waiting.  I made it to the City without too much trouble and met up with Chrissi, Bonnie, Sarah, and their counterparts.

We had a quick stop to fix a flat tire at Otmok Pass, but the ride was otherwise unremarkable.  All three of the local counterparts riding along spoke decent to great English and it was relaxing to just hang out and chat.

After five hours we made it to Bishkek, rewarded ourselves with the best burgers in Kyrgyzstan (go to Burger House if you’re ever here) and swapped taxis to take us the rest of the way.

It was another three hours before we finally reached the Western tip of the lake and two before we got to our resort.  By 8:00 I had been on the move for fourteen hours.

Fortunately none of the meetings started until the next morning and I got to spend the evening catching up with Volunteers from the other Oblasts who I haven’t seen in more than a month.

Nothing too difficult was going on until the next day.

Talas to Issyk Kul

9 Hours?  That’s pretty optimistic there Google.


Chrissi got a pretty good photo of me sleeping, but…


I got a better one.


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About Cole Bedford