We were finally back on smooth, lovely tarmac, and it was fab. We sped along the valley to Naryn, through deserty shrubland punctuated with small green villages. We camped by the river and enjoyed evening driftwood fires, and did lots of lazing around in the sun.
In Naryn we found pizza and WiFi (the essentials) and enjoyed an afternoon off the bikes. We climbed out of the town and onto a big plateau, where it started to get quite cold and grey. After some rolling hills we started climbing through a green, rocky gorge. We continued along this in the light rain till a big hairpin took us away from the river, and the road got steep as we approached the top of the pass, just above 3000 m. We could see the higher mountain tops had recently been snowed on.
The following descent was long and freezing cold, but we enjoyed warming up in a cafe at the end!
Since crossing the Dolon pass the weather has been colder and wetter, but it is nearly autum now!
We had a few days of downhill, following another gorge, lined with mountains, till we finally reached lake Issyk-Kul, the second largest alpine lake. And it is huge!
We followed the south side of the lake, heading east, and enjoyed some lovely beach and field campspots. The south side is less inhabited, and more rolling.
Since getting to the lake we have enjoyed some wild weather – huge thunderstorms, bright rainbows and hot sunshine, and massive hail. Luckily everything passes overhead quickly.
I braved a swim in the lake, which was surprisingly warm, and we have cycled past some great statues and monuments. The view across the lake is particularly epic, bright blue water then shining white snowy mountains. It’s beautiful.
Jim’s words – Fire, Nomad, Dolon, Issyk-Kul, Chai and Monk.