Day 105 (2): Fermented horse milk??
Tash Rabat Travel Blog› entry 145 of 260 › view all entries
The formalities on the Kyrgyz side of the border went as easy and smooth as they had gone when I entered the country from Tajikistan. On the way to Naryn we had agreed to make a short stop at Tash Rabat, a tiny settlement near a caravanserai. The fortified caravanserai was built somewhere between the 10th and 15th century (according to contradicting sources) and it is a unique construction which resembles an Islamic mausoleum rather than a trading post.
It kinda puzzles me how this secluded fortress, in a valley some 60km off the present road, could have been a major stop on the Silk Road, but apparently the old silk road ran across (or closely past) the Chartyr-Köl lake which lies directly beneath the Torugart pass, rather than at the location of the present day road which runs through the much more accessible Naryn valley.
My Kyrgyz fellow travellers wanted to buy some kymys on the way. Kymys is Kyrgyzstan's national drink, it is made from fermented mare's milk and is only available in spring and early summer (when mares give milk, in the first couple of months after giving birth).
We stopped at a random yurt at one of the summer pastures along the road, where we were instantly invited inside and treated to some bread and a few glasses of this alcoholic drink.
My gawd what awful stuff was that. I am all up for trying any local dish or drink, but I had trouble downing the glass and keeping it in. I made a valiant attempt though and drank my emptied my glass as quickly as I could. To make matters worse, tradition calls for a good host to offer his guests at least two glasses, so no sooner had I downed it and my glass was filled again. It was a taste I was not able to get out of my mouth the rest of the day. Throughout the rest of the journey I felt nauseous and would constantly burp up some of the milk.
I didn't want to buy any, but when we left I was given a bottle. The man seemed so happy to have a foreigner in his yurt, that he wanted to give me a parting gift. No way I was going to drink any more of that foul stuff, so I just gave the bottle as tip to the driver.