15.08.2013 - 20.08.2013
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Time for another update. We are now in Bishkek which is the capital of Kyrgyzstan. We arrived yesterday, coming off an overnight train from the eastern part of Kazakhstan and transitting quickly through Almaty, Kazakstan's old capital city (before it was moved to Astana, in the north of the country), to take a bus across the border in to Kyrgyzstan.
I was a bit sad to leave Kazakhstan behind. The orienteering weekend at Tainty was lovely. The weather became sunny and the location was very picturesque, with pine trees and rocky slopes rising out of a grassy valley. Because it was somewhat remote, most people were camping there together and we were able to rub shoulders with the Kazak orienteers. T he weekend of events came at the tail end of a ten day training camp at the same venue, and we were taken in by the camp organiser and treated as guests. We weren't allowed to help get any of the food ready and we were served first at meal times. We camped amongst a large contingent of teenagers from Karaganda, most of whom had been orienteering for less than three years, having been introduced to the sport by teachers at their college. Overall we were made to feel very welcome.
The camp infrastructure was a sight to behold, with metal cubicles for pit toilets, a shower curtain cubicle with a black plastic tub on top for filling so that the water would rain down on the occupant inside, a camp kitchen made from pine tree trunks sunk in to the earth as uprights, with pine log rafters and wooden slat benches inside, all protected by tarpaulins tied down to make a roof, and most importantly, a trailer comprising a wood fired oven, with doors in the sides in which big (50L?) cauldrons of food could be cooked.
Everything seemed to be directed by an extremely energetic orienteering advocate by the name of Irina. Not only was she our point of liaison, but she also took responsibility for directing the catering, bus transport from Ust-Kamenogorsk, prizes and certificates at presentation time, and packing up the venue on the last day so we could all go home leaving the area spotlessly tidy. Everyone gave a hand packing up. The toilets were dissassembled in to sheets of metal and the kitchen in to a pile of logs that was loaded into the back of a truck. Amazing!
That was our weekend. Since then we have spent the best part of three days getting ourselves to Bishkek and sorting out payment for the tour that we head off on tomorrow. We will be spending 13 days travelling as a group of four with a driver (organised by Community Based Tourism) taking us about the country. At the end of this time, Lachlan and I will be crossing the border in to China, whilst Emily and Duncan return to Bishkek and head to the UK.