“ Where the hell is Kyrgyzstan?” most people ask.
From the airport you arrive in Bishkek, the busy and bustling capitol city. If you take the time you will find it a fascinating, maybe curious, mixture of Central Asian, Russian, Western and Far Eastern influences.
Ah- but you are impatient to be on your way. Kyrgyzstan is an off -road paradise. Outside of the towns there are few paved roads anywhere.
Cycling through remote villages and passing single or collections of felt tents, yurts, you feel like you are on a voyage of discovery or travelling in another time. These semi-nomadic families, most of the women in traditional dress, some of the men wearing the traditional felt hat, spend the summer in the mountains tending their livestock. You are invited to join them in their yurt for tea or a cup of fermented mares milk. You are unable to accept all the invitations.
The whole country, it seems, is populated by friendly, hospitable people. The children all wave as you pass by.
You are riding through a spectacular landscape of snow topped mountains, lakes, and alpine plains.
You are surprised to be suddenly in semi- desert and pass a camel grazing by the roadside. Pedaling back into the mountains you conquer a series of passes more than 3000m above sea level before descending into a lush green valley accompanied by the sound of a wild raging river.
At the end of another exciting day you are greeted by warm friendly faces, big smiles and yet another table full of good, rustic food. After the meal you successfully search for the local shop, even though it is indistinct from all the other houses in the village, and return with a few bottles beer, or maybe some vodka. Mentally and physically satisfied it's time to relax and tell tall stories about your experiences that day, that week, during the whole tour.
“Where the hell is Kyrgyzstan?” Back home you are faced with a dilemma.
Should you answer …..or should you keep this authentic and, as yet, largely undiscovered jewel of Central Asia all for yourself?