Pouring with rain this morning, so we chatted, read and updated our journals till the skies cleared, then Simon, John and I rode off to explore the area.
We followed the south shore of Lake Issy Kul for three-quarters of an hour, then turned up a dirt road into the mountains in search of some thermal springs we had heard about. It was great riding up a spectacular valley. At the lower altitude it was lined with small farms – mostly sheep, goats and dairy, but this one was given over entirely to beekeeping. Very unworldly – men in strange white hooded outfits moving slowly through the maze of hives amid puffs of smoke. Ridley Scott would have loved it.
As we climbed higher the valley narrowed into a spectacular sandstone canyon where we followed a rough track, winding beside a fast-flowing river.
Riding these traffic-free, dirt roads is challenging but hugely exhilarating – standing on the pegs, leaning forward, riding fast enough to smooth out the bumps, wind blasting your face…
Finally we arrived at the trailhead where there was a small cluster of buildings – several A frames and a couple of small circular white adobe buildings – the thermal springs. It felt like we had ftime-warped our way into a 60’s hippy colony.
But the few locals who were there seemed confused by our arrival and not as welcoming as we have become used to. Our offered hands were shaken, but cautiously, and no one smiled. We seemed to have breached some protocol we didn’t understand and it wasn’t helped when Simon disappeared inside to take some pics of the thermal spring, only to find he was in the women’s toilet – and it was occupied.
So we didn’t stay long. Fantastic brisk ride back down the sandstone canyon in the evening light with the brilliant blue Lake Issy Kul soon appearing ahead.
Not far from the hotel we paused by this ‘piece of sculpture’…
No one could explain what the hell it was doing there by the side of the beautiful lake, but it made Simon happy and he took this great pic…
An Australian couple, Shane and Christine, had arrived at the lodge. She’s a pharmacist and he’s an artist. He seemed like a well-balanced chap for an Australian, but when he showed us photos of his art we realized how deceptive appearances can be. Here’s his website…
Yet another good day on the road.
Best to you all, love to my family,