Go far enough into the hills outside Karakol in Kyrgyzstan and you’ll pass wild horses and nomads and rivers that look like the ones on bottled water labels. It started raining on us halfway up the hike. Soaked, we pulled into a tiny guest house at the mouth of a plot of green saddled between ominous mountains.
To be offered a cup of tea by a foreign person from a foreign land that knows nothing about you is the ultimate first impression. I’m willing to bet not many quarrels happen after someone offers tea. Inside the hut, the roaring wood fire, homemade bread with fresh double cream and apricot jam, along with refills of tea took us from soaking to serenity in seconds. A lot is made of hospitality, something that is often contrived, in Kyrgyzstan it’s innate, second nature, not yet transactional like it is in so many parts of the world. Being a guest in someone’s home has weight. It’s a dying art form but still exists if you hike far enough.
Ashlan-Fu Alley of Bugu Bazaar, Karakol, Kyrgyzstan
Reggie Ate: Ashlan-Fu (cold soup made from wheat noodles, potato starch strips, various toppings and a vinegar broth) and Piroshky (fried bread stuffed with potatoes).
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