Day 106: Evaluating the options
Kochkor Travel Blog› entry 147 of 260 › view all entries
So that's what I did. First thing in the morning (well, after having an extended breakfast with lots of coffee and working on my blog for a while) I took a shared taxi to the city of Kochkor. Kochkor is one of the main tourist destinations so surely that would be a better place to hang out.
I was feeling much, much better after a good night's sleep. Naryn looked a lot nicer in the bright sunshine and during the 3.5 hour trip I felt a lot happier than I had the day before. The views of the mountains on the way were great. It struck me that while the mountains in Tajikistan had been more spectacular, Kyrgyzstan was more picturesque. Kyrgyzstan is a lot greener, whereas Tajikistan is more rugged. Can't say if I like one more than the other. Tajikistan had been great, but so far Kyrgyzstan was shaping up to be just as good.
In Kochkor, I bypassed CBT and went to their competitor, Jailoo travel. Capitalism might still be a foreign concept in this country, at least they have grasped the idea of competition. And with competition should come competitive pricing, right? At Jailoo travel I received plenty of information about trips in the surrounding area and they offered me a homestay, which at $8 didn't seem a bad deal to me. I wondered why the prices were so much lower here than in Naryn. He explained to me that Naryn was a city, so obviously prices were higher there. Hmm, I looked outside and counted the exact same number of roads as Naryn had had: one.
The homestay was great. Not an apartment, like last night, but instead a large family home where the top floor is rented out to tourists. I was the only guest they had. In fact, it seemed like I was the first guest of the season to stay here. The mother of the house treated me as if I was her own son, pampering me with unlimited tea and coffee and biscuits. I immediately felt right at home here.
Armed with the information gathered at Jailoo, I visited the CBT office. I had no intention of booking anything with them, but I wanted to know their prices. My plan was to book a tour to the nearby Song Köl lake. Apparently it is a great place for horse trekking, so I wanted to do a multi-day tour which included horse riding and walking (I still need to practice for my Himalayas trip, after all).
The man at CBT was really arrogant and unfriendly. He quoted me a price which was about 20% higher than Jailoo's, but when I challenged him on his exorbitant prices he got really cross with me, telling me I shouldn't book with him if I didn't like his offer. Well, he got that part exactly right! No way was I going to book with him. I tried to reason with him that his attitude would losing him business though. Did he not suffer from the issues elsewhere in the country? He laughed at me. “Haha, yes, issues in Osh. They kill Uzbeks over there, ha ha ha”. He seemed genuinely pleased about the genocide that had happening there. But what about the tourists shunning Kyrgyzstan then? “I have enough business” he said. “Many of my guides and drivers are at work at the moment, so I don't need any more tourists. If people don't come to this country because of the war it is not my problem, but theirs.”
What an arrogant prick. I made my way over to Jailoo travel and booked the tour with them instantly. Little did I know it was the biggest mistake I could have made.