Day 8 – To Bokonbaev

On the way out of Bishkek, we pass another monument to Victory in World War II and those lost in the fighting. The monument is shaped like a yurt. A statue of a mother stands on the middle.

This morning we embark on a five-hour drive to Bokonbaev, a village where felt is made for yurts.

The mountains are ever-present in the background.

We pass the first of many cemeteries.

And descend through a gorge. Train tracks above are covered from the elements.

A river marks the border between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. At one point for about three minutes we cross into Kazakhstan in an informal border crossing when the river takes a wrong turn.

We stop at a rest point which has just been opened for one week. The Kyrgyzstan government has built these throughout the country to support tourism. It is very modern, but only one of the toilets work and that one has a broken seat.

Water is plentiful in Kyrgyzstan.

The road under construction makes for a long and bumpy ride.

Horses graze by Lake Issyk Kul.

We have lunch at a small felt factory, a family concern. The dining room is decorated with a painting of a man and wife on horses.

After lunch we visit the factory to see how felt is made for yurts.

The rolls are created by a machine used in the Soviet period.

The wool is laid out in three layers, white, black, and white, with fibers changing direction each layer.

Hot soapy water is sprinkled on the wool.

The wool is then rolled up tightly

And placed in a machine that the husband of the household invented using a car engine. This machine agitates the fibers and saves a great deal of work.

The felt will need to be agitated for twenty minutes and then get another soaping and agitation. Twenty of these panels must be made for one yurt.

Next we visited the site where they make carpets and toys.

The director is rightfully proud of her family and its accomplishments. They receive commissions from around the world.

We arrive at our home stay, a very simple but adequate lodging.

My room makes me happy because it looks out on apple trees in bloom.

We take a walk around town.

The Tien-Shan Mountains are a beautiful backdrop to the village.

Our home-stay hosts live with his mother and their two children. He is a ski instructor and trekking guide who speaks English quite well. She is expecting another child quite soon.

Tomorrow we hike out to a waterfall.

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