Site Logo  Osh
Capital of the Ferghana Valley
  
Of all the places Iíve been to the one with the longest story is the one with the shortest name, Osh in English, a simple two letters in Russian, ош. Itís the second city of Kyrgyzstan, not very big but very ool, and remember, ool means cool!
 

Market in Osh


I had a friend there, it seemed an excuse to visit and in any case I really needed to get out of Bishkek. Travelling there is simple enough but unconventional, and the choice is pretty much made for you by process of enforced elimination. Plane, horse, bike, foot, car. No trains, no buses.
A friend organised the car for me. They leave from the bazaars and people going there anyway offer rides to people for a decent price. But if you do this, donít take it lightly, itís a 12 hour journey through some of the remotest reaches of, well, the world really.
 

Leaving Osh


 

Suliman Tur, Osh City



I was lucky with my travelling companions. They were a family who had two spaces in the car. So there was me, and another girl who was going down to Osh to be with her husband. Although my Russian is fine she spoke English quite well too so there was plenty of scope for conversation. And plenty of time. Did I say twelve hour journey? Make that 20. We broke down in the middle of nowhere. The ignition failed and the keys couldnít start the car after weíd stopped for a break just short of a place called Toktogul. It was quite fun, but the girl I was with seemed withdrawn and concerned about arriving late. I met her later in the week by chance, it seemed sheíd had good reason, and although she didnít say much more, I think I knew what she was getting at. I hope I was wrong.
So after several determined but failed attempts to fix the electrics behind the dashboard, we slept that night, six people in one car, next to a small store in the middle of nowhere (see the picture, right). When I woke up I took these photos. It reminds me of how much fun disasters can be. Yet we chose the right place to break down, just four kilometres short of an auto-electric place where a half-asleep, young guy fixed the car while I tried to eliminate the rapidly descending and worsening effects of food poisoning before we got back in the car. Kyrgyzstan is not a well-known country, and nestled between much bigger countries is considered to be quite small. But it isnít! And had we broken down any more than 30 minutes earlier or later, we would have been in very deep poo (intestinal disturbance or not).
After stopping for lagman, Kyrgyz noodles, en route, to the annoyance of my companion, we finally made it to Osh and still paid the full price in spite of the monumental delay. I met up with my friend, they found me a place for a few nights in a cheap hotel which turned out NOT to be a 'hotel' in the strict sense of the word, but like a good lad I kept my head down and retired early to bed ahead of the next day enthusing to myself about the bazaar and the mix of colours and people rushing around.
 

Market


I met some great people in Osh, even the drunken local posing as a policeman who ripped me off 120 som (just over a quid) was a laugh, and apart from Italy itís my favourite place. But I was ill that weekend after a blazing row with something Iíd eaten, and it took the shine off the adventure.
 

Tales and tidings from Osh

Long way from home
Long way from home
 

The nut sellers are the ultimate in 'hard sell'