iskander kul

Days 41-44

This past weekend was really fun. Seriously, for anyone who wants to study abroad outside of the usual “Europe” area, Central Asia is incredible. Seriously, if anyone is the type to go hiking or enjoys nature, GO TO ANY CENTRAL ASIAN COUNTRY.

We went to Iskanderkul this past weekend, and it was an incredible experience. We drove for a good 2 hours, and the road was rough and rocky.

This is a picture of one of the drivers. On our way, we went through the Iranian Tunnel…I will upload a video b/c it’s pretty crazy. I took a video upon entering and exiting, but I couldn’t take pictures b/c it’s so dark. It’s a 5km tunnel that has huge potholes, water everywhere, not a lot of air circulation, and barely any light. It felt like we were on a roller coaster ride (Indiana Jones comes to mind) and having our car splash into huge puddles of water didn’t help XD

After we came out of the tunnel, we stopped to take a short break and take pictures of the beautiful mountains.

Jessica took this picture of me sitting on the edge…I’m sorry if this picture freaks you out, but I really wasn’t sitting too far on the edge.

When we arrived to our campsite, we had lunch on a topchan or kat over this gorgeous lake, then we left to go for a hike to a waterfall and Snake Lake. Here are some pictures of the hike:

The guy in the very front of this picture was our guide. His name is Salom (which was really fun whenever our Resident Director shouted his name to get his attention…we all thought he was yelling “hello” XD).

This is a picture of a river (that connects to the lake we were camped by) that was on the way to the waterfall. We found a “flying fox” as one of the student likes to call it, and Kramer tried to go across the river on it…but failed b/c the crank was kind of broken. He ended up pulling his way back from halfway across the river.

Then after about 20 more minutes of hiking, we came to the waterfall! It was awesome because there was a platform that goes over the waterfall…but it was also terrifying because the platform was basically held up by a pile of rocks.

Here’s a better picture of the platform. The pile of rocks that my friends are sitting on are basically the only counterweight to the platform.

After the waterfall, we hiked another 30 minutes to a nearby lake called Snake Lake. There were no snakes in the lake, but it was probably one of the clearest lakes I’ve ever seen.

The best part about this lake was we got to jump into it! We were on this huge rock about 8-9 feet up from the surface of the water, and we jumped from the rock into the water. I was the first to jump in because everyone was a bit nervous to jump in. The water was so cold that it felt like my entire body went numb.

Afterwards we hiked back, had dinner, and I learned how to play durak with a few other people. It’s a Russian or Tajik card game (I’m not entirely sure which) that took FOREVER to learn. I lost a good 5 times before I understood what I was doing XD But yea, one time I ended up with pretty much the entire deck in my hand, so I finally understood how the game worked. We also made a fire, and later walked a bit down the road from the campsite and looked at the stars. I wish I had a camera that could take a picture of the stars XP The sky was beautiful. It reminded me of when I used to live in Carson City, and my siblings and I would lay on sleeping bags on the backyard lawn just staring at the sky for hours during the summer.

The next day we went hiking again, but this time we went into the Saratogh valley and went for a second hike…which was drastically harder.

This is the first point we stopped…I was dying XD I’m not used to climbing mountains. Anyways, we stopped at a point where there was a small arch of snow, so when air flowed through it was freezing. It felt like air conditioning in Texas!

Then we hiked up a REALLY STEEP part of a hill and we could pretty much see the entire valley. It was wonderful because no matter which way you looked, the view was wonderful.

Afterwards we hiked down the mountain (and now my knees are so sore from doing so XP) and went to this spring where glacier water bubbles up from below the ground. It was so cool because the water would come up from under the sand, so it looked like the sand was boiling.

After the hike, we went to a local village where Tajiks basically live without running water or electricity. We went into one of the houses and were served bread and maast which is one of the forms of yogurt that Tajiks eat.

This is a picture of the oven in the house.

Here are some of the village kids.

After spending some time in the village, we went back to the campsite, ate lunch, then went back to Dushanbe. It was a really fun time and I absolutely loved Iskanderkul.

One last picture of Iskanderkul before I move on…

Day 43: I had class, ate lunch, and “worked”…which was basically writing half of this entry b/c this is such a long entry XD

Day 44: Today was actually eventful! :D I went to Prospekt Clinic to pay for my check up fees, then I went to Tsum with Jessica b/c she felt like going shopping…and we found the booth with Soviet memorabilia…and Jessica went crazy.

I…need to do work so, I’ll upload pictures of Jessica tomorrow XD

Until next time, khodahafez!