Seven Bulls, A Valley Of Dragons & A Broken Heart
Jety Oguz Travel Blog› entry 46 of 83 › view all entries
I reluctantly woke up just before 8am but was pleased to see that it was sunny and clear. My plan was to go to Café Zarina, where I had seen that they had rice porridge on the menu but they were closed. Another café wasn’t yet open, and the one next door still had its chairs on top of the tables while a woman was mopping the floor. I was their first customer. They didn’t exactly have a breakfast menu, and they don’t really differentiate meals here that much, so I decided to order briezol again, which is the closest breakfast-type food I could find on the menu. I added a side of buckwheat and together they made for a filling breakfast that gave me energy to start another day.
There were no buses to Jeti Oguz so I took a taxi for about $10.
I walked around the grounds of the sanatorium, where several desolate buildings sat vacant and looking like they’d been abandoned for years, although they were likely just dormant for the season. Snow still covered the ground, which was immediately at the foot of a large looming mountain and therefore in the shadows. A small creature resembling a cross between a squirrel and a chinchilla ran up a tree near me and made strange clicking sounds. Its tail was flat and it had larger eyes than a squirrel. It ran too far up in the tree for me to get a good picture. There were many statues, mostly of children, but a rather short Lenin also remained near one of the dormitories.
In a nearby field I noticed the snow that covered the ground had an unusual form, looking more like shingles or crystal shards than regular snowfall. Perhaps the wind currents or additional precipitation caused it, but it was crunchy to walk on. From here the Seven Bulls stood majestic overlooking the village and a group of schoolchildren playing at a nearby playground. On the other side of the clearing, a valley continued up into the mountains and a distant snowcap was visible through the bright sunlight. An icy stream separated the sanatorium grounds from the village.
From the main road next to a small general store, a gravel road curved up a hill and promised to reveal magnificent views, so I climbed the steady incline to the top of the ridge.
From the road below the Seven Bulls, the rock formations were even more grand than they appeared from a distance. On the other side of the Seven Bulls ridge, another formation revealed itself. Broken Heart is a large cracked rock formation that is actually the back side of the “bull” closest to the road. You would never know from looking at either side, though. The folklore surrounding Broken Heart has many variations, but according to one legend, two men fought over a beautiful woman, but killed each other and thus broke her heart. Another tale augments this legend by claiming her broken heart flooded the valley with blood, thereby causing the red sandstone cliffs that dominate this valley. The sun was positioned right in the crack of the broken heart, making for a serene, spiritual moment.
I prepared myself to walk the seven kilometers to the Jeti Oguz village, but after only walking for two kilometers, the minivan that had passed me earlier pulled over and I was spared a couple hours of walking along the remote road. At first the van had only two other passengers, but we filled up after stopping in Jeti Oguz village. When we got back to Karakol, I walked past the stadium and through the large, forlorn Panfilov Park.
Having arrived back in Karakol much earlier than I’d expected, I decided to treat myself to a real lunch instead of the packet of cookies I got at the Jeti Oguz general store. I chose Stealth Café, which turned out to be the best meal I’ve had in Karakol.