A pathway through the national park (Ala Archa; Kyrgyzstan)
Let it be known, Kyrgyzstan is about scenery, and with that I mean scenery of epic proportions. Now that I have clarified that point, all it would really take is a trip to the Ala Archa national park to illustrate the point indicatively. On a day out with a hired driver, those 'epic proportions' referred to were also present in this day out's first port of call, the Dordoi bazaar market, situated 6km north of Bishkek. This market is dubbed the largest of its kind in Central Asia, and just has to be experienced to be believed. In terms of size, we are talking one kilometre of market stalls, end to end, and the main bulk of the market's substance here consists of one-on-top-of-the-other Chinese cargo container crates, used for storage and as a means of marking out a layout plan which shoppers can work their way around.
The greener face of the scenery here (Ala Archa; Kyrgyzstan)
Due to the enormity of the scale involved, only a cross-section of the market was sampled, but the abundance of attractive goods on offer led to suggest that this commercial spot could provide days, possibly weeks of browsing material - wow! Onto Ala Archa, and the nominal entrance fee is perhaps a means of collecting funds in order to preserve the national park, but once you arrive at the car park and adjoining entrance, be prepared to be wowed on all sides as scenery rivalling the Swiss Alps makes its presence known. There are numerous hiking routes through the dramatic scenery, and the photo opportunities along the way are so multifold, that you would curse your own power of judgment endlessly if you arrived minus photographic equipment. Moving on from Ala Archa, neighbouring Alamedin gorge is also worth a look in, and the riverside yurts, landscape and hot spring resort qualify this area as a bona fide piece of rural Kyrgyz culture minus the elements of commercial culture which could potentially blight it. Taking a dip in a hot spring water-filled pool and lunch at a rustic restaurant were the final two pieces of the jigsaw, and the day out concluded at that juncture. Plus of course, I was beginning to come out of the trance-like state which Ala Archa national park had caught me in.....