Friday, March 22, 2013

A Free Ride

April 22, 2008

Saturday afternoon, despite the beginnings of a head cold, I decided that the day was too beautiful to spend indoors. I walked south along towards Sovietskaya, in the direction of Park Pobedy in order to see what I could find. Along my way, I took some more Lada pics, a shot of the vet clinic where I got Luball spayed, and a nice shot of an alleyway, just west of Sovietskaya.
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This is my vet clinic.
It's located in the basement of this building.

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More Lada goodness :-)

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And they do come in colors other than green and orange...

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One thing I love about Bishkek is that when you get a block off of a main street,
it's like you're in a rural village.

When I reached Park Pobedy, I decided to continue following Sovietskaya (or whatever name the street takes on at that point) southwards, past the park. Just after I passed the southern boundary of Park Pobedy, I crossed Sovietskaya and entered a grassy area, filled with sheep.
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More sheep! (It was kind of garbagy, but unlike the cow in Naryn, they were at least eating the grass from around the trash.)

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These guys weren't shy!

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You can see how close I was to the edge of the city.

Soon I became aware of the sound of some kind of heavy machinery, and as such, I was not too surprised when I emerged at the edge of a huge quarry of some kind. I walked along the edge of the quarry for some ways, although the depth of the quarry coupled with the high mountains rising in the distance gave me a rather uncertain feeling of vertigo.
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I'd just finished reading Q is for Quarry, so I found this super unnerving.

I turned away from the quarry, and wandered eastward until I was stopped by an empty and thoroughly uninspiring canal, which is allegedly the “Southern Big Chuy Canal.”
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Big empy ass canal.

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The mountains behind the canal were pretty, though.

I decided to follow the canal back towards the city. Eventually, I found a small footbridge, and in the distance I saw a ferris wheel. It occurred to me that, safety notwithstanding, I might be able to get a decent picture from atop said ferris wheel, so off I marched in that direction. Eventually I came across a small (and seemingly permanent) carnival. I hadn’t brought much money with me, but as it was only 20soms for a whirl on the wheel, I decided to give it a go.
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That concrete thingy is a footbridge of sorts. You can see the ferris wheel in the distance.

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A much closer look

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The mountains as seen from atop the ferris wheel

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The carnival from above

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Inside the wheel
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On the downslope

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After disembarking and all...

The “carnival” was home to a small collection of rather decrepit, albeit functioning, rides, and a beer and shashlik tent. I was feeling rather hungry and wishing I’d brought along enough dough for some shashlik, when I noticed a horse and pony next to the beer/shashlik tent. For a meager fee, one could be led around on either equine – a totally boring sort of ride; I wasn’t interested. However, the horse was gorgeous and the pony was adorable. I snapped a quick distance shot of the horse, as one of its handlers was on it, and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

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Then I wandered over to where the pony was tethered and grazing. Before whipping out my camera, I thought I’d befriend the little thing – he was SO cute and tiny, in the Shetland-pony style. Unfortunately, before I could get around to photographing this cute gem of horsehood, one of the horse-handlers approached me and started encouraging me to take a ride on the large horse. The following conversation occurred in Russian.

“Come on, ride this horse. That one’s too small.”

“I don’t need to, thanks.”

“Oh, come on. You should try everything at least once.”

“I’ve ridden horses many times, I don’t need to be led around like a child.”

“For you, it’s free.”

Ahh, those magic words. “Oh, okay. Why not.”

So I hopped up on this rather large Palomino, and while I at least got to hold the reins (unlike others I’d seen, clutching tightly to the pommel), the handler still held the reins near the bit. He asked me when and where I’d ridden before, and I told him that when I was little, my family had horses.

“Do you know how to go fast?”

“Of course!”

Then things got a little odd. The next thing I knew, this guy was on the horse behind me, with his arms wrapped around me. On the plus side, I had full control of the reins. On the minus side, he was a little too close for comfort, if you know what I mean. We rode around the field behind the carnival, cantering at top speeds. That was one powerful horse – and I never would have guessed from the way it had been just placidly being led around. The horse seemed quite thrilled to be allowed to do something other than just plod about, and was racing about with its ears pricked forward and its neck arched. I would love to have gotten a shot of it like that, instead of the one I took. Unfortunately, the dude riding behind me was much more interested in me than in riding the horse. (He's not the one sitting on the horse in the picture above, by the way.) I’ve got to start lying and telling people that I’m married or at least that I have a boyfriend. Not that this guy was all that old – he was 36, which is a completely acceptable dating age for me, what with me being 29 and all – but despite his relative youth, he had a mouthful of gold teeth and looked more like 46 than 36… sadly, he was not attractive at all. He tried to convince me to come out with him later than night but I declined. He told me that we should get together some weekend and ride out into the mountains while the flowers were in bloom, just the two of us. As nice as that sounds, the rest of my weekend didn’t exactly leave me feeling as though going off into the Blue with Random Kyrgyz Dudes was a particularly good idea (that’ll be dealt with more in the next post). I did give him my phone number (why did I do that??), although you know me well enough to know that I won’t answer when he calls. I wanted to get a picture of him with the horse, but there were actual paying customers waiting when we returned to the carnival, and I didn’t want to encourage him. I didn’t even get any shots of the cute little pony either, such was my hurry to be gone.

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