As Taylor and I keep on our mission to explore every part of Kyrgyzstan, we took advantage of some holidays to go visit friends and explore Talas, the home of the biggest hero in Kyrgyzstan, Manas.. We set out with several other volunteers through the high Too-Ashuu pass and 3km long tunnel we went through last year on our way to Toktogul. After a quick stop we turned right past the huge sculpture of Manas and through the gate to Talas.
Talas city turned out to be really nice (my Kyrgyz friends thought it was odd we were going there but they think it’s strange we like to travel around the country at all) with a lot of new buildings in the center of the city. It’s a small city but very concentrated so the center is fairly bustling as far as Kyrgyz towns go. They have a real Chinese restaurant and a fantastic (and cheap) coffee shop, major perks you don’t really find outside of Bishkek or Osh.
The second day we went to Manas Ordo, the believed resting place of Manas (although there is some dispute as to whether or not his remains are actually there.) They have a nice museum and a little hill we climbed up for a great view of Talas valley. We were also quickly mobbed by local kids who wanted photos with us (kids here know the word selfie which I find pretty amusing.) We all agreed we were celebrities. I forget sometimes that even in more populated areas like this that there are many people who have never seen PCVs and are amazed when they meet white people speaking Kyrgyz.
Our last night in Talas we decided to camp down by the river. It’s a beautiful little spot and made the region feel so different from Issyk-Kul, there aren’t any slowly moving rivers through cities here and many fewer trees. Talas gets the fewest visitors of any oblast outside Batken, mostly due to the length of time it takes to get there and poorly publicized attractions. There’s a lot to do there and we really enjoyed seeing it. I’m already making plans to go back to climb a peak or two in the area this summer.