Snow and Jam

By Rob Packer

What do you do in Bishkek when the first snow falls in a mountain valley? You head there to play in it. This wasn’t the plan that we had when we headed to the Chong-Kemin valley for a Kyrgyz getaway this weekend, but it turned into one of the things that made it so great. If you get the snow just as it falls, you get to experience it powdery and crisp before it gets churned up by people, cars and animals to become a brown, icy mess.

Getting out of Bishkek always seems like a trial as it runs to a developing world schedule (things leave when they’re full), which has the potential of being a nightmare when you want to get out early enough to make the most of the Saturday because you’re leaving for Uzbekistan on Sunday night. This weekend’s trip out was surprisingly simple and involved a quick marshrutka to Kemin followed by a taxi ride in the only kind of car I trust in snow: a 20 or 30 year old Soviet one. As if to prove the point, the 20-minute ride to Chong-Kemin only involved one unscheduled stop to readjust the cardboard box supporting the bonnet.

Watering his horse in the snow.

A semi-frozen river.

A fantastic old photo of the owner’s grandparents.


We arrived at Ashu Guesthouse in Ashu village early enough for lunch Read more of this post

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