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A Week-In-The-Life of Jonny Backpackingman in Kyrgyzstan

Jonny left home back in 1997 and has been travelling and living abroad ever since. He is always looking for new adventures while blogging about it all. Here’s a week-in-the-life of Jonny traveling, riding, sleeping in yurts, and staying with friends throughout Kyrgyzstan.

This post was originally published in 2015. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.ย 

Day 1 – Tuesday

07:30 – Waking up inBishkek, Kyrgyzstan, at a friend’s apartment, I check some things on the internet before getting ready to hit the road.

08:30 – Walk in the morning heat for thirty minutes to the bus/taxi station.

09:00 – Arrange shared taxi to small town three hours drive away, have to wait for it to fill up. Play game on smartphone to kill time.

10:00 – Taxi is full and we leave at a fast speed too the destination for the day.

13:30 – Arriving I head straight to a community tourist office to enquire about horse trekking into the mountains to reach Song Kul lake. I meet three other backpackers who want to do the same thing, and with some decision making we book a two night three day trek. Spend the next two-three hours walking around and finding a place to stay for the night.

16:00 – Sleepy from the hot summer heat I take a nap.

18:00 – Waking up I sit around and read a Stephen King book until dinner.

20:00 – Eat some camcas (tasty local meat pies) and get ready for an early night.

21:00 – Watch a National Geographic documentary about Mallory on Everest on smartphone.

22:30 – Sleep.

Day 2 – Wednesday

06:30 – Wake up and continue reading Stephen King book from the night before.

08:30 – Grab some breakfast before walking into town to meet the other three backpackers for the horse trek. We arrange a taxi and drive for an hour to the start point.

11:30 – In the small village to get our horses we get delayed and have a very early lunch in a local traditional yurt.

12:30 – We’re off! All of us have no real clue how to ride a horse and our guide is only fifteen years old. This will be interesting.

Jonny and tour leader in Kyrgyzstan

15:00 – Two and a half hours into the horse trek and all is going ok. Beautiful scenery and the horse I am on is behaving ok. Stop for a fifteen minute break under the shade of a tree to escape the sun.

17:30 – The days horse trek is over as we arrive at a yurt tent in the mountains to stay for the night with a local nomadic family. The man gives us some local alcohol to try while a girl prepares tea.

19:30 – Dinner is served consisting of a local thick noodle dish. Chatting with the others for a while before going to bed in the cozy yurt. Very cold outside now but lots of stars to see.

22:00 – Start to drift to sleep.

Day 3 – Thursday

06:00 – Wake up early and can’t sleep anymore so read in bed until the others wake up. Lots of annoying roosters and loud cows contributed to being woken up!

09:00 – It takes a long time for breakfast to be ready, and once it is over we saddle up on our horses again, and head into the mountains.

12:30 – Climbed hard upwards to reach a mountain pass over loose rocks and steep terrain. Finally made it and we are rewarded with great views to Song Kul lake. However my ass is starting to get a bit sore on my bad saddle and the horse seems to be laying up a little.

yurts; photo by Jonny Backpackingman

14:00 – We reach some yurts to relax in the shade and have a late lunch before moving on for camp. My ass is very thankful for the break!

17:30 – Reaching camp for the night to stay again in some local yurts down by the side of the lake, out of the mountains now. I walk around for a few hours and watch the sunset with a herd of horses at the base of a mountain.

21:30 – An early night under the stars.

Day 4 – Friday

07:30 – Early rising again, disturbed sleep with a bunch of dogs and roosters going nuts in the early hours of the morning. I hate roosters with a passion.

09:00 – My butt is seriously sore on one side from riding the day before, so I opt to walk the next part which takes just over two hours peacefully most of the way by myself, because I walk fast and somehow manage to beat the horses!

11:30 – Chilling in yet more yurts by the lake waiting for lunch. I go for a freezing dip in the lakes waters to freshen up.

14:30 – We leave later than planned and I am now back on a horse, but a different one from the first two days. This horse is even worse and hardly follows my commands. I use the horse to get to the top of a steep mountain pass, before getting off it to walk down the other side which takes around one and a half hours. I feel really great, half skipping and jumping down the mountain. The others are slower on the horses.

Jonny of Backpackingman and horse in Kyrgyzstan

17:30 – Yes I am back on the horse again for the final stretch that takes us out back to the starting point a few days earlier. The bloody horse is pissing me off big time stopping all the time to eat.

19:30 – Finally reach the end and I can hardly walk. I think long term horse trekking is not for me! A day will suffice.

21:00 – After bargaining for a car to give us a lift we arrive back to the town where we booked the horse tour from. Getting a guesthouse room for the night we have a quick bite to eat before passing out exhausted into bed.

Day 5 – Saturday

08:30 – Joy of joys I had the best sleep ever and my butt isn’t as sore anymore. Saying goodbye to the other travellers I had been on the horse trek with, I go to the local market area to wait for a shared taxi to fill up to take me back to the capital Bishkek.

10:00 – With the taxi full we leave for the same drive through mountains and then onto flat plains to reach the capital. The driver is very fast and only takes just over two hours.

13:00 – After sweating it out in a local minibus to get from one end of the city to another I arrive back at my friend’s apartment. Spend the rest of the afternoon catching up on internet to do with writing an article for my website and social media.

19:00 – Time for some well deserved dinner at a nearby eatery that has some delicious duck shashlik.

20:30 – Back at friend’s apartment we play some games of brandi dog before watching some episodes of Breaking Bad and then crashing out.

Day 6 – Sunday

09:00 – Wake up to independence day in Kyrgyzstan! Head over to the hippodrome to watch some local horse games.

10:30 – At the hippodrome the local game of buzkashi is being played, where two horse teams have to pick up a headless stuffed goat and try to get it into the other team’s pit goal. My fellow travel blogging friend and I manage to blag our way into a great position claiming press credentials to sit on a wall right near the action.

horse games in Kyrgyzstan

13:30 – The first game of buzkashi has been over for a while now and having blagged our way onto the main stage we watch some rather boring horse races go by. This is livened up by fans trying to rush the stage and walls to get a better view of the field, and then being shoved back by the police. We end up in the middle of it all being shoved about. In the end, the captain of the police lets us stand by the side of the wall, having a great position all to ourselves.

14:15 – The final of the buzkashi games starts and we almost get run down by some of the horses, moving out of the way just in time. With things winding down, we escape before the majority of the crowds, to get a minibus to the centre of Bishkek.

17:00 – My friend and I wander through the centre of the city viewing everyone out celebrating the day. With some live shows going on at the stage in the main square, we meet up with another friend before going back to the apartment.

20:00 – Back to the shashlik place for dinner one more time and then some more games of brandi dog in the apartment before writing a blog post about the day at the hippodrome.

01:00 – Sleep.

Day 7 – Monday

09:30 – A lazy day planned ahead! Spend all morning on the internet doing blog related stuff before going out to eat.

13:00 – After some food it’s time to continue a relatively boring day in the apartment researching on the internet and watching some more episodes of Breaking Bad. When you travel a lot with many things going on at a regular basis, you need to have those do-nothing days now and then to keep you sane.

19:00 – A non shashlik dinner for a change. This time I get some Indian food takeaway down the street.

21:00 – Another brandi dog game played, followed by more Breaking Bad episodes. Then sleep at midnight to get ready for more travels ahead!

Jonny never has fixed plans and generally has not much idea where he could be in two weeks from any given date, often randomly booking last minute cheap flights to somewhere. As such he doesnโ€™t quite know yet where he will be next! You can keep up with his adventures at his travel blog Backpackingman and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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11 thoughts on “A Week-In-The-Life of Jonny Backpackingman in Kyrgyzstan”

  1. Jonny and Nora? A headless stuffed goat? How cool is that? Or horrifying?!

    Crazy stuff over there in quite a region that time forgot. I love reading anything about this area of the world because cultural practices from years ago remain today. I respect that and appreciate it, being in good old NJ now. Culture here is not too existent. Or non-existent. However you want to put it.

    As for those annoying roosters I know how it gets. We spent a month beside a farm in Bali in Nov 2014. We woke at 4 AM or 5 AM most days when the cocks started up their crazy calling. We’re heading back to Bali in 3 weeks. House sit gig. You guessed it;the lady has 30 chickens. We’ll be watching them. Feeding, and yes, waking early.

    Fun read here, thanks guys!

    Ryan

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  2. Kygyz horses are so tricky! We did a trek into the mountains outside of Karakol and had to rely on our “animal whisperer” guide (who was amazing) to get them to go faster than a trot. The worst thing you can do is let them eat grass though… grab those reins and pull! Remember that YOU are the master, not the horse. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    We spent eight days in Bishkek and absolutely loved it… definitely a hidden gem of a city and a real respite for RTW travellers. Fast wifi available everywhere (even the hair salon and car wash!), cheap foreign food, good coffee, loads of bars and some fun clubbing! Could have stayed there for much longer…. definitely recommend it to long-term travellers passing through Central Asia.

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  3. Cool trip man! It sounds like you had your share of horses for a little while! That sounds like an awesome trip and I like the summary of your blog! Cool “Week in the LIfe…” I’m headed to your site to check it out! Cheers and Happy Travels; thanks for posting Nora and Jonny!

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  4. The trip looks amazing! I would love more photofeed on this adventure, if possible! Nora and Jonny, I check travel blogs with great joy, and yours is really worthy! I would love it if you check my photo aggregation project at carde-app.com and evaluate it ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers and Happy Travels! Daria

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  5. Wow that is quite a trip. You definitely go hardcore! Staying in yurts in the middle of nowhere sounds like my dream come true, I can’t wait to read more about it

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  6. This was a fun read! The pictures made me remember my Mongolian trip yeeaaarrrsss ago. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Kyrgyzstan looks as interesting, though. Gotta visit there someday!

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