girl_on_a_stick: (camera)
[personal profile] girl_on_a_stick

True to the apparently random nature of the weather on this trip, by morning it was sunny, warm and clear. I was again up a bit earlier than the rest of the crew and decided to go on a short hike on my own. I wandered down the road to the next camp of yurts and watched the families who lived there tend to their herds and admiring a handsome pair of older gentlemen in suits and traditional hats on horseback. I kicked myself for not asking for their photo, but they seemed so at peace I felt guilty disturbing them.

Back at camp I had to stop and admire the handiwork of our group from the night before, a tower of beer bottles. If there’s one thing overlanders can do it’s put away cheap beers.

We packed up camp and headed back towards karakul to have lunch and shop for the next day’s cooking. I think my lack of sleep finally caught up to me as I found myself impatient at both the tedious task of dividing up the lunch bill and waiting for the cook group to complete their shopping. I took another walk through the market and returned to the vans at the appointed meeting time. There I waited for an hour for everyone else to return, many dragging from hangovers. I was frustrated as I would have loved to have used that extra hour to have seen some sights or catch up on my email. Our lovely driver Zoe understood my frustration and offered to have the vehicles swing by a Russian Orthodox church I was keen on visiting on our way to our hotel for the night. We arrived at the church after the gates were closed, but it was magnificent, enough so that we were promised we’d return in the morning for a closer look.

We spent that evening at the very nice and modern Swiss hotel, Hotel Amir. Excellent food and the most comfortable beds one could wish for after several nights in a tent on soggy ground. After a huge meal and several glasses of wine a few of us booked an hour at the hotel’s traditional Russian sauna. Luckily it came with detailed instructions. We began by acclimating ourselves to the temperatures by pouring progressively warmer water over ourselves. During this time we took a swatch of birch branches and places them in near boiling water with a lid cover to let them steam. Next we toweled off and went in to the hot sauna for about 10 minutes. It was like a furnace in there. After several years of cutting weight for martial arts I have a hard time enjoying saunas, but I figured this was a cultural experience I wouldn’t get again, so I suffered through. Next we took turns going in to the sauna in small groups and beating the hell out of each other with the birch branches. Honestly, it wasn’t as painful as I thought and the smell was incredible. After a few rotations we cooled ourselves down with progressively colder water and rehydrated. I feel into the hotel’s soft bed and thought I’d never want to leave.

Date: 2009-07-25 05:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ahem! Make with the chicken photos!

Date: 2009-07-25 05:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Here you go!

(Complete with my sister's criticism.)

I tried to get individual chicken pictures, but they're squirmy little buggers. Damn, they're cute. I was really worried when I first brought them home, because they were all freaked out and loud, and I was like, "Wait! These are supposed to be the quietest, most docile breeds out there!?!" They've calmed down a bit now though. :)

Date: 2009-07-25 05:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh dang, they're itty bitty and super cute! How is the rest of the family reacting? Names yet?

Date: 2009-07-25 05:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
No names yet. I'm not sure if we're going to name them. The cats are VERY interested, but everyone's locked out of the room where they are at. Potter knows something's up, but is far more interested in Mr. Bear.

Date: 2009-07-27 03:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The word exactly.


Date: 2009-07-25 09:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
SERIOUSLY- between you and Brandon & Terri, I've got some major travel envy. My passport is sorely lacking in stamps right now.

What kind of bird is that in the photo past the yurts? Looks like a falcon of some kind. I still wish I could've gotten a picture of that Peregrine that took a rest in the neighborhood tree in Batavia.

Date: 2009-07-25 02:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I believe it's a Harrier Hawk.

Date: 2009-07-25 04:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
God I love those horses. Is there any place there that isn't beautiful? Wow.

Date: 2009-07-25 04:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, I spent a large portioin of the trip just saying 'HORSEY!" and pointing. And no, as far as I can tell there is not a single place in the country where you can stand and not see at least two snow-capped mountain ranges.

Date: 2009-07-25 05:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It all looks so primeval and unspoiled.

Date: 2009-07-25 05:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is. Just don't tell anyone, it'd be nice if it stayed that way for a while.

Date: 2009-07-25 06:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I loved Russian Saunas, the heat, the smell, the awesome tingly branches... The acclimation sounds nice, most I went to in Russia and Estonia had hot sauna and ice cold pool, only in between were showers and Russian mocked us for our wussiness.

I was amazed how much I loved the scratchy goodness of the birch branches, like scratching itchy spots you didn't even know were itchy.

Date: 2009-07-26 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
These are great! And man, that first pic is stunningly gorgeous.

Date: 2009-08-09 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, the platza is quite nice, and the leaves are much softer and thuddy than the stinging sensation that everyone expects until they have had one.

What is up with adventuring and excessive drinking? Have had to dial that down a few notches from my youth in New Orleans, but is has always been a paradox that SCUBA boats would dive, drink heartily, and then dive again the next day, subjecting the body to a lot more than you should when you have to be at peak performance and active all day.
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