It’s my last day in Bishkek, and at Nomads Home, and I’m going to miss them both. Tonight will be my fifth night in Bishkek, the longest stay in any one place during the trip. It has been great to laze about for a few days and to generally relax and ‘recharge my batteries’ after lots of long driving days.
Throughout my five days in Bishkek, I haven’t visited any tourist attractions and I haven’t been to any fancy restaurants. I’ve kept everything low-key and low-budget and have had a good time. During the stay I’ve been able to buy the new tent and obtain my Uzbekistan visa, which were important requirements.
Today, I cleaned out and re-organised the interior of the Defender. I went into town to print-out an English version of the Uzbekistan Customs Declaration form at a local print shop, which I’ll complete prior to reaching the border. I’ve filled up the tank with diesel and had the Defender washed. Car washing is getting cheaper and cheaper. I got the exterior cleaned today for 200 Som ($4)!
For the past couple of days, I’ve been visiting the few cafes closest to Nomads (on the opposite side of the block). For lunch today, I decided to venture slightly further afield. Nomads is four houses north of the eastern mini-bus station. If you walk through the bus station and turn left, you come to a strip of shops and money-changers. I walked down there today and found a small cafe that was selling shashlik. I haven’t had shashlik for a while on the trip, so went in for lunch.The shashlik was the best I’ve had so far – and the draught beer was the coldest so far on the trip. Awesome!
As I sat eating lunch, watching traffic go by, I had one of those moments where I just felt so lucky to be experiencing this trip. Across from my table was a pile of charcoal bags, spilling their contents onto the ground. This was no tourist trap – it was as authentic as they come. Where the locals eat. And I savoured every minute. In fact, I’ll probably be back there tonight for my final dinner in Bishkek.
Having finished lunch, I walked back along the strip of shops and saw a bakery stall where they were making the fresh local bread that I enjoy so much.I asked the owner if he minded me taking a photo of his bread. Not only did he agree, he walked behind the stall and posed for a photo. Then he told me to take photos of his baker who was in the process of baking more loaves. I was touched by this example of the friendliness of the Kyrgyz people. Everywhere I have been, people have been genuinely interested and inquisitive when they realise I am a tourist.
I broke out the shorts today – far too hot for long pants. I misread the thermometer yesterday when I said it was 86F – it was actually 96F! Today, it is reading 100F – a scorcher.
Tomorrow, I will say goodbye to Nomads Home and will resume my journey. Having perused the map and guidebook yesterday, the intended route over the next four or more days is as follows:
- Bishkek to the Suusamyr Valley (Bishkek – Kara Balta – Too Asuu Pass – Suusamyr – Kyzl-Oi) and camping in the region of Kyzl-Oi.
- To Song-Kol lake (Kyzl-Oi – Aral – Chaek – Kara-Kici – south shore of Song-Kol) and camp at SongKol.
- Towards Kazarman (Song-Kol – Ak-Tal – Kazarman).
- To Jalal-Abad through the Fermana Valley (Kazarman – Kaldama Pass – Kok-Zangak – Jalal-Abad).
Some of this route is remote but most of it is reportedly beautiful, so I’m hoping to get some great photos. There are also some high-altitude mouton passes, so it may not be so hot up there!
The past five days at Nomads Home have been very good. There is nothing fancy or pretentious about Nomads but it leaves a very positive impression. I’m not the first person this week to say they are sorry to be leaving and I would certainly return if my travels bring me this way again. It’s a simple family-run guesthouse that is friendly, comfortable, calm and welcoming.
Nomads accommodation options vary. You can pitch your own tent in the garden – or sleep in your vehicle (or roof-top tent) in the secure parking area (one of the parking spots is not covered). There is a mixed dorm with bunk-beds for those seeking a low-budget option. There is a room with a single bed and a double room with two single beds. Then there is ‘my’ yurt with three single beds, which I have found to be very comfortable.
There is only one shower and one toilet (western style) but they seem to be sufficient and I haven’t witnessed any queuing for the facilities.
Socialising with other guests takes place outside. There is a long table with benches as well as a carpeted platform for sitting/lounging (both covered by a roof). Being popular with overlanders and back-packers, there is a good chance that one of the guests will have information that will be useful. It is also nice to be able to meet like-minded travellers and to talk about each others experiences. And the wifi is fast and free!
There is a fridge in which you can store food and drink items. There is an electric two-burner stove for cooking meals and a kettle. Nomads’ can provide breakfast and dinner with advance notice (at a fee), but most guests tend to fend for themselves. There are grocery stores and cafes within easy walking distance.
There is secure parking, behind a locked gate, for three four-wheel vehicles. There is also space for bicycles and motorcycles. There are a number of clothes lines for hanging out your laundry. You can also utilise Nomads’ washing machine (for a fee). The owners are always here and are very approachable and friendly. They will provide directions and assist with things such as booking appointments with embassies.
The front gate is locked at midnight, so ensure you’re home on time (otherwise you might find yourself having to climb over). However, most guests tend to be in bed by 10.30am.
I initially had a hard time finding the place, as my Garmin took me somewhere else when I used the address. The GPS coordinates for Nomads are N 42.88853 E 074.62936. The address is Drevesnaya 10. The Nomads Home website is https://sites.google.com/site/nomadshome/ where there is a map showing the location.
I’m looking forward to the next episode of the adventure.