Monday, November 12, 2012

November 11, 2012

Both Elvira and Gulnara made attempts to locate a resort in Yssykul Lake that would be open this time of the year and we left the house with a few suggestions. I just threw a few things into my new backpack along with my tablet and a book while remembering to pack the snacks we had purchased the day before. Ryan negotiated with the taxi driver to take us to the bus terminal and then we waited for a minibus that would have the two front seats available for I would not ride in the back.

The bus terminal was the usual beehive site with passengers coming in carrying bulky bundles and plenty of children. To my dismay, most of the male passengers waiting for the buses to fill up would spend this time alternatively smoking and spitting on the sidewalk and pavement. So disgusting! We finally left about 10:40am and were delighted to find out that most of the road to the lake was in pretty good condition except for a few patches where construction was going on. Police were out in force pulling over any driver that appeared to be exceeding the speed limit. Our driver apparently knew each spot where they stood and slowed down way before getting there.

We stopped at a roadside restaurant and Ryan ordered lagman noodles, bread and tea. I had eaten some of the cheese rolls I had bought the day before and wasn’t a bit hungry. The landscape looked pretty much lunar as there was little vegetation around and even the tiny settlements we encountered sported no greenery of any kind and could have passed for some ghost town except for the shiny new mosques we encountered in each one of them.

We arrived in Cholponata before three and the town was dead with all hotels, restaurants and concession stands shuttered for the winter. We walked around for a bit, but my backpack was heavier than I had expected and I just wanted for us to find a place to spend the night before it got dark. We walked back to the main drag where some taxi drivers had congregated and Ryan settled with one of them to take us to the Raduga resort we had seen on the way there and which the driver reassured us was open.

A smile spread across my face as we approached the front gate and found a beautifully landscaped space spotlessly clean and securely guarded by a surly officer. Ryan and I agreed to split the $120.00 cost for a cabin including dinner and breakfast and found the space luxurious with heated floors, a tub where Ryan soaked for a while, and Wi-Fi in the lobby. We walked onto the lake just before the light faded and got to take some great photos.

Dinner was served at a separate building and we found only three other diners there. Two salads were on the table and the lone server, a stout woman of Russian background, brought a minuscule serving of rice, stewed beef and vegetables. Ryan complained the food wasn’t enough and she brought him an additional dish of noodles and vegetables. I wasn’t that hungry and left pretty satisfied with the first course.

I took a shower, got into my pajamas and settled down to read one of the books Ryan had brought me back from Dushanbe while he went back to the lobby to do some Internet surfing. There was a TV set in the room, but it only had two channels that could be seen clearly and there were both in Russian. I was happy to just read.

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