A wonderful homestay
Kochkor Travel Blog› entry 351 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (
Kochkor is mainly used as a base for organising trips into the surrounding countryside and this was also the purpose for our visit. The minivan from Balykchy dropped us in the centre of town and from here we visited the Jailoo office, which is a community based tourism project. They arranged for us to stay with a host family for 200 Som ($5.55) per person, although we were alarmed to find that the whole town had been without water for the last seven days!
The host Mum was a lovely lady and i think she could see our desperation and probably smell our necessity to take a shower, so kindly phoned her neighbour to arrange for a banya to be prepared for us. This takes about two hours, so we went for some lunch and to ask each agency in town about the trips that they could arrange for us.
At 15.00 we were taken to the house where the banya had been made for us. This banya was composed of a room where you changed, then another room where there was a pale of cold water and some rocks that were been heated, which in turn heated up a tank of hot water. The idea is to mix the hot and cold together and then wash in the water. Added to this, the room is very hot, like a sauna, which opens up your pores, to aid in the cleansing. With all the badness sweated out and washed away from your body, you take a bucket of freezing water and tip this over yourself to cool down. It was an invigorating experience and one that i fully enjoyed. We paid 30 Som ($0.85) each, which was a complete bargain, and i made a resolution to head back there after our trip into the wilderness.
Cleaned and feeling a new person, we went to finalise our plans for a tour into the countryside. I found the owner of Jailoo to be rather an unpleasant lady, who kept trying to push the most expensive options onto us and was also constantly lying. Some of her prices didn't add up and nor did the distances and times to get places that she was telling us. I was having doubts about booking with her, but it was getting late and i wanted everything to be confirmed and organised.
We ate what i thought was a wonderful Dinner in a swish restaurant, which still only cost 100 Som ($2.75) per meal. My portion of chicken was massive and i jokingly said to Julia that it must have been past its sell by date and that was why they piled my plate, as they were trying to get rid of it. Many a true word is spoken in jest.
Back at our home stay, the Mum made us tea and served us with her homemade bread and jam, whilst having a good natter to us. Like other locals, her feelings were of happier times under the Soviet regime. She talked of poverty and hunger at present, with so few jobs to go around. Hearing this first hand and not reading it from a book always puts a knot in your stomach. Her cute little grandson joined us for some time to practice his English, before shyly exiting after asking a few questions that he'd learned at school.
Just as we were preparing for bed, i began to get some really sharp pains in my stomach and I've had food poisoning enough times on this trip to know what it feels like. I ended up in the toilet, cursing what a dreadful streak of bad luck we've so far had in the country. When i returned to the room i drank some re-hydration salts and fell asleep, hoping i wouldn't have to cancel the tour, which was already paid for.