Saturday, November 7, 2015

Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan - Getting to Kochkor

Source: Lonely Planet Central Asia
I saw this photo in Lonely Planet Central Asia and I'm sold. I didn't mind where else we go in Kyrgyzstan but I wanted to go to Song Kul. Period. Planning this outside of Kyrgyzstan was a little tricky, simply because there was a lot of waiting time. We sent off a couple of emails as there were a few email addresses around and we weren't sure which was the right one. Initially we had very prompt response then it just died off. A week before departed, we finally had some news!

The easy way was to arrange for a private transfer from Bishkek all the way to Song Kul but it was too pricey so we decided to just wing it and do as the locals do. The aim was to get to Kochkor by noon so there is enough time to get to Song Kul. 

Step 1: Get to West Bus Station (Zapadniy Avtovokzal) by marshrutka. 
Step 2: Look for minivans, mashrutkas or minibuses going to Kochkor at West Bus Station. 
Sounds easy eh? 

The issue was we forgot to jot down the word "Zapadniy Avtovokzal" and had some issues when trying to ask the marshrutka driver or any other passengers when to get off the bus. The driver dropped us off at Osh Bazaar because there were taxis and could take us to Kochkor thinking that was our intention. We stopped and asked quite a few passerby before we found an elderly woman who understood what we meant. The lovely woman flagged down a marshrutka and told the driver we wanted to go to the West Bus Station to get to Kochkor. Bonus was there were also a couple of passengers going to Kochkor! We have found travelling buddies to for our shared taxi! They happened to be a family of 4 travelling to Kochkor. One of the women motioned for sis to follow them while the marshrutka driver was telling me where he will drop us off.

We followed them after getting off marshrutka. They found a shared taxi (in this case we were in a van) driver, negotiated for a price and we hopped on the van. There were six of us and we only have to wait for a couple of minutes for the driver to find another passenger to have a full case and off we went. We paid KGS250 per person. The drive too about 3 hours. We brought out some of the chocolates to share with the rest and glad that our little mishap turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
*Note: photos below by sis

On the way to Kochkor

Yummy corns on sale


Halfway to Kochkor the driver pulled over and stopped by the road side as the family bought some corns. What we didn't expect was they got us an ear of corn each as well. We tried to pay and when they refuse to accept, we thought we would just share a corn between the two of us but they would hear no such thing. Hospitality from a Kyrgyz family. :)

Upon reaching Kochkor, they made sure we were at the correct destination - CBT Kochkor before they get back into the van and continued their journey.


Side note: Best news of the week - I'm exempted to take an assessment as I am qualified by points system ^^

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