Day 1: Arrival at Bishkek. Korean cuisine.
- Breakfast – hotel
- Lunch – local café
- Dinner – local restaurant
Arrival at the International airport “Manas”. Meeting the guide and transfer to the hotel. After some rest and a good breakfast the group meets in the lobby. A short briefing is delivered by the local guide who distributes some printed materials, detailed tour program and so on. You may ask questions and express your expectations from the trip. We leave for the city center. A walking tour around the main square Ala Too to see the State History Museum, Parliament, White House, Change of Guard, Lenin Statue, Manas Monument, Oak park, Marx and Engels monument, etc. After the city tour we are going to meet the first culture – representatives of Korean nation. (The Koreans moved to Kyrgyzstan mainly during the Soviet times. There were several reasons, but usually looking for a better life. The first Koreans appeared in the 1930’s during the Repressions. Nowadays there are about 20 thousand Koreans living in Kyrgyz Republic. This is only 0.30% of the total population, but Korean cuisine is so popular among the locals and you can find a Korean café in every town of the country. Some of the dishes became part of the usual menu in each family (for example, carrot salad or chimchi cabbage). We meet the chief of a Korean cafe in Bishkek city. You try one of the main dishes of this cuisine – Kuksi. But before, of course we will take a master class in cooking it! After dinner we return to the hotel.
Day 2: Full day in Bishkek. Uzbek cuisine.
- Breakfast – hotel
- Lunch – local café
- Dinner – local restaurant.
We will dedicate this morning to an interesting visit – the house of CACSA. This is an Association of women involved in handicrafts. We will meet some famous designers who combine felt, silk, cotton and mix traditional ornaments with modern designs in their masterpieces. These ladies will tell us about their activities during the class. We will cook our lunch from organic products – vegetables and meat. After lunch we have a dessert – ice cream and seasonal fruits and enjoy the fashion show – a demonstration of the products of the Association. You will participate yourself as well, in this show if you wish. After the session of art we will leave for an Oriental Bazaar (all bazaars are closed on Monday) where we choose and buy the ingredients for our evening meal. We will join the members of an Uzbek family in the evening and cook Pilaf for the dinner.
(Uzbeks are the second largest nation in Kyrgyzstan. They inhabited the Southern-Western part of Fergana Valley long before the establishment of the Kokand Khanate. They settled down on the territory bordering with the modern regions – Osh and Jalal Abad. But with the time flow they mixed with the locals, moved further to the North and East and nowadays can be found in almost every village of the mountainous Kyrgyzstan.) After dinner with the family we return to our hotel.
Day 3. Bishkek city – Chon Kemin Valley. Kyrgyz cuisine.
- Breakfast - Hotel
- Lunch, Dinner - Ashu Guest House.
After breakfast we drive to Chon Kemin National Park (150 km/ 3 hrs). This park occupies a territory with an area of 500 ha. Its altitude gradually increases from 1400 to 2800 meters above sea level. On the road we visit the archaeological and historical complex “Burana Tower", located on the territory of the ancient Balasagyn, a city related to UNESCO world heritage list. We arrange our lunch directly at the territory of the historical complex, near its main attraction – the Burana Tower. Today, you will have a wonderful opportunity to taste fish lunch, specially cooked for you on the open fire. After lunch, transfer to Chon Kemin valley. Accommodation. Today, you will learn the process of traditional Kyrgyz holiday lunch with lamb butchering. The host will demonstrate all stages of preparation and cooking of various delicacies, such as biji, jorogom, as well as tea from herbs, collected in the park.
The Kyrgyz, as one of the most ancient Turkic peoples in Central Asia represent the major population of the republic. According to a census held in 1897 they accounted for only 600 thousands. Today, their population is more concentrated on the Naryn region, in the west part of the Issyk Kul lake region, on the east parts of Talas and Chui regions and, at the foothills of the Fergana range. The Kyrgyz language is the official language of the Kyrgyz Republic. We start with cooking of national dishes on open fire: Kuurdak (pieces of grilled mutton or beef stuffed with spices and served with greenery) Then, a dinner with tasting of national drinks kumyz and bozo. The kumyz is the most popular drink of the nomads on the jailoos or summer pastures. Bozo - a brewed, creamy drink made of millet, lightly carbonated beverages which is usually consumed in the cold time of the year. At the end of all activities we return to the guest house.
Day 4: Chon Kemin valley – Cholpon Ata town. Russian cuisine.
- Breakfast - Ashu Guest House,
- Lunch - Russian family,
- Dinner - Hotel.
We drive in the morning to Cholpon Ata town. Our way pass through the narrow Boom canyon and then goes along the north shore of the Issyk Kul lake. We will have an excursion to the Petroglyph Site on the proximities of Cholpon Ata town. The site is one of the most relevant accumulation of millenary carved stones found on the Kyrgyz territory, which dates approximately from 8 century BC. After the excursion we will have lunch in Cholpon Ata town. We will have lunch in a local Russian family house, test various dishes of the Russian cuisine, honey and homemade wine.
(Russians started settling the North part of Kyrgyzstan on the middle of XIX century. Years later, the migration continued forward to the South. Those were the times of the intensive colonisation pursued by the Russian Tsars. The second wave of massive migration occurred during the “Great Patriotic War” from 1941—45. Along with the evacuation of the biggest plants and factories, qualified workers, orphans, old people and wounded moved from the devastated cities near the front line to the most protected soviet republics in the rearguard. Thus, the Russians spread almost to all regions of the republic. Nowadays, more compact Russian population is found in the Chui province, the northern part of the Issyk Kul region, the west of Talas and in the major cities, including Bishkek. Then, we have a Master Class on jam making. In order to buy fruits, berries and ingredients, we firstly make a visit to the local bazaar. Accommodation in a hotel located 15 km from the city, at the shore of the Issyk Kul lake. You have free time to walk and relax on the beach. Optionally: A boat cruise.
Day 5: Cholpon Ata town – Karakol city. Dungan cuisine.
- Breakfast – in hotel
- Lunch – picnic
- Dinner – in Dungan family house.
Morning transfer to Karakol city (50 км/ 3 hours). Karakol, located at eastern shore of the lake, is the largest city in the Issyk Kul region. We make an excursion to the Grigorevski gorge and have a picnic lunch consisting of grilled vegetables and meat. Then, we continue driving and make a stop at the memorial and museum dedicated to the Russian explorer N.M. Przhevaslki. Upon arrival at Karakol you will be accommodated on a Guest House and have a time for rest. The we continue our city tour. We visit the Dungan Mosque, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Victory Park and the local bazaar.
The Dungan originated in the Kansu and Shensi provinces of northwestern China. Today, there are people from Kansu living in the mountains and valleys of Kyrgyzstan, and people from Shensi living in Kazakhstan. The Dungan arrived in Central Asia as poor peasants after their loss to the Chinese Emperor in the Dungan Revolt (1862-1877). Dungans settled on the Chui valley (Tokmok city, Alexandrovka, Milianfan and, Ken Bulun villages), on the Issyk Kul region (Karakol and Irdyk). Culturally, the Dungan are Chinese; their language is greatly influenced by Arabic, Persian, and Turkish.Their language, Dungani, is Mandarin Chinese but uses the Cyrillic script. The Dungan have a mixture of Chinese, Muslim, and Russian cultures. They are a proud, hospitable, nationalistic, and conservative people. Although they have completely cut their ties to China, they refer to themselves as Hui-Zu, or "Chinese Muslims." The Hui of China are still one of the largest unreached minority groups, numbering over ten million.
The Dungan are considered more wealthy than other ethnic groups, as they have plenty of meat and vegetables. They enjoy meals of fried vegetables, lamb, chicken, and oriental noodles, all lavishly seasoned with garlic and vinegar. Most still eat with chopsticks. Master Class on traditional Dungan dish – lagman (thick noodles served with spicy sauce, onion, tomatoes and cabbages), Chuchpara or pelmenis (small pieces of dough stuffed with mince and onion, accompanied with broth). Return to the Guest House. Overnight.
Day 6: Karakol city – Kochkor village. Uygur cuisine.
- Breakfast - Guest House
- Lunch - Uygur house,
- Dinner - local family.
This morning we are going to visit an Uygyr family and learn how do they prepare and cook one of the most appreciated dishes in Kyrgyzstan – the manty. This is known to be called “jigit’s lunch” (jigit word stands for horseman, rider). The dish is cooked on special steamers consisting of several layers of grills placed on the top of a boiler – “kaskan” or, a flat pan made of reed grill called “jimbyl”. Manty are made of stuffed rolled dough. Lots of variations of this delicacy depend on the preparation procedures and on the stuffing components. Salt dough, fresh or even sour dough can be used for manty, The stuffing used also varies from mince, herbs, fruits vegetables and even fruits. We will also learn how to prepare the sauce “Lazy” and a testy pie.
The first Uyghur wave of migration to Kyrgyzstan began in the late 19th century. Some Uyghurs from Kashgar came with the Dungans to the Ferghana Valley in the aftermath of the 1862-1877 uprising in northwest China; Later, in the early 20th century, Uyghurs, Dungans, and Chinese alike came as migrant workers to find employment in coal mines and cotton mills. The second wave consists of those who fled Xinjiang after the People's Republic of China established control in the area, or during the hardships of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. In contrast to the Dungans, Uygyrs are related to the Turkic ethnos and therefore, they differ from the Chinesse not only in religion but in cultural traditions and language (Uyghur belongs to the Karluk branch of the Turkic language family, which also includes languages such as Uzbek). Nevertheless, Uyghurs and Dungans living inside the boundaries of Russia have similarities in their cultural heritage. There are mora than 43 700 uyghurs living in Бишкек and its surroundings, and also in Osh and Jalal Abad. Uygurs in Bishkek have their compact residences located in Tokuldash, Lebedinovka and Novopokrovka districts. The Uyghur community is mainly engaged in small and medium-sized businesses in the areas of food service and trade, including large-wholesale from China. Other have dedicated themselves to the agriculture as in the Kashgar Kishlak village for example.
On having a hearty lunch we drive to Kochkor village where you can watch how women make different crafts articles from felt. On the way we stop at the Djety Oguz gorge to watch an eagle hunting demonstration. You can also make a short walk along the gorge. Then, we continue driving along the southern shore of the Issyk Kul lake. We make a stop in a good spot for a picnic and, may be, for swimming on the lake. Accommodation in a Guest House upon arrival. Today we have a Master Class on bread making – “Boorsok” (pieces of dough of different shapes fried in oil), “Kattama” (puff pastry with lard and onion). We will prepare other sweeties like “chak chak” (a dessert food made from deep-fried dough drenched in a hot honey syrup and formed into a certain shape, most commonly a mound or pyramid. Sometimes nuts and raisins are added). Then, you will have the unique opportunity of watching a Master Class on felt craft. Dinner with degustation of traditional bread and drinks. Return to the Guest House.
Day 7: Kochkor village – Bishkek city. Kazakh cuisine.
- Breakfast - Guest House
- Lunch - Kazakh family
- Dinner - Local restaurant.
Transfer to Bishkek passing near the Orto Tokoi Water Reservoir and then, driving along the Boom canyon. Lunch in Tokmok city. We will visit a local Kazakh family to learn about the Kazakh cuisine and test one of their national dishes – “Beshbarmak”. Beshmarmak is a compound Turkic word that literally means “five fingers” — while eating nomads did not use cutlery and took the meat by hands. The dish itself consist of boiled meat with noodles but, some particularities in the technology of cooking and serving make the difference in the taste, inherent to this traditional meal.
There are more than 43 000 Kazakhs living on the Chui and Talas provinces of Kyrgyzstan, mainly engaged in the agriculture and commerce. Many of them always lived here, other migrated to the Kyrgyz territory by the 30-es of the XX century during the forced collectivisation, remarked by its exceptional cruelty in Kazakhstan. Whole families then fled, trying to escape from starvation. Thousands died of hunger and tiredness during the exodus, others could find shelter among Kyrgyz families and settle. Even now, they are many descendants of those Kazakhs that still live in Bishkek. Accommodation in hotel in Bishkek upon arrival. After lunch we visit Bishkek’s Wine and Champagne Factory. It is possible to visit also the “Shoro” and Toitalkan” factories. (tasting of Kyrgyz wines, champagne and traditional beverage “Shoro”. We make a short shopping-tour to the Central Store “ZUM” , where you can buy souvenirs or any other stuff. Dinner in a local traditional restaurant in Bishkek. Return to the hotel. Overnight.
Day 8: Bishkek city – Airport.
- Km /day: 30
- Meals: B.
After breakfast transfer to the airport to take your flight home.
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