Osh was our end goal for Pamir Highway trip. And after eight days of sitting in a car and three days of no showers, we were happy to be back to normalcy, albeit that pleasure came to a sudden realization when we sat in Osh traffic.
The city of Osh is Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city with a population of roughly 300,000. Considering the city is roughly 3,000 years old, there wasn’t much to see.
At this site, there’s a mini-cave called Ene-Beshik that is known for its fertility powers. After a babushka saw me with Robb, I’m pretty sure she asked me in Kyrgyz if I was going up the mountain to try to have babies. Then, she gave me a big slap on the back for good luck.
When we started climbing the stairs to go up the mountain, it was a blustery 30ºC (86ºF). It was also a gentle reminder of how out of shape I was.
Once up top, the view was nice. We were able to see the Trans-Alay Mountains from afar.
Back down at the bottom, we found the famed Three-Storey Yurt. Technically, it’s the Alumbek Datka Museum (30KGS/$0.44 entrance fee plus 10KGS/$0.15 camera fee) which let you play dress-up in Kyrgyz national costumes for an additional fee… of course.
A walk in Navoiy Park next to Ak-Buura River was a nice respite from the heat. Like with all parks in Central Asia, there always seems to be some amusement park bit for the kids to play. For the older fellows, there was a chess section of the park to pass the day away and an area for table tennis. We were there on a Tuesday afternoon and was oddly busy for a work day.
Osh Bazaar is one of Central Asia’s biggest markets. There were plenty of Kyrgyz kalpaks (traditional hats worn by men) and other knick-knacks for sale.
It was also here that we stumbled upon maksym. This drink is considered Kyrgyzstan’s national drink especially during hotter days. Maksym is usually made from malt, but other types of grains may be used in its preparation and is prepared by boiling grounded malt or other type of cereals in water. After reaching a certain state of readiness this substance is cooled and undergoes a fermentation process caused by yeast. We saw these stands pretty much on every street corner. A popular brand is Maksym Shoro (Максым Шоро). For a mere 11KGS ($0.16), we tried this apparently refreshing drink. Let’s just say the saltiness with the grainy fizz was not for us. I guess we had to have grown up with this.
For me, I really appreciated the art on the buildings in Osh. A lot depicted the history of Kyrgyzstan with men sporting kalpaks and riding horses.
Two days were plenty in Osh. What the city lacked in sights, it made up for in comfort.
- Coffee: Brio Coffee is touted as Osh’s first real coffee house. After days of being coffee-free, this place was perfect to have our first Americano in Kyrgyzstan. They also offer Western-style food like yogurt with muesli and non-pickled salads.