1st – 4th September
Kyzyl, capital of Tuva. WE MADE IT!!! Well, actually, not yet because before Kyzyl we had to take a shared taxi from Abakan, a truly breath taking 5 hour drive at break neck speed.
Beautiful rolling landscape, wooden villages, Siberian cowboys herding cattle…..then it rained. A lot. This guy got really wet.
Then we climbed up through the Ergaki Mountains and it snowed. At this point we wished we had at least a warm hat.
Once settled in Hotel Kyzyl, a dubious establishment (perhaps of ill repute?), we took to our beds for some well earned rest. Here’s the view from our hotel room once the clouds cleared. The building in the foreground is the National Drama Theatre, eagles perched here between hunting sessions.
On our first full day we went in search of throat-singing and stamps for postcards. Incredibly, the main post office here does not stock stamps and, believe me, Zhenia asked everybody working there and created more than a little fuss!
Rebuffed but not defeated we decided to see if we could fulfill our other quest. Our first stop was the theatre but the heavy wooden doors were firmly shut and certainly nobody was home. Our next option was the Cultural Centre, maybe we could stumble across Kongar, the famous Tuvan featured in Genghis Blues? Teaching a khöömii class? No. The caretaker answered “Nyet” to every one of Zhenia’s enquiries and the place looked abandoned.
At this point we were sorely disillusioned and took to wandering the streets with our ears vainly straining for any other worldly sounds that might be emanating from a Tuvan throat. What did we find? Another post office that sold stamps (only boring Russian ones we’re afraid) in very small denominations but beggars can’t be choosers.
So celebrating our minor victory we took a tour of Kyzyl’s other sights….here’s Zhenia standing by the Centre of Asia….
Here’s a close up of the mountains that surround the city…
A statue of a martyr commemorating the repression of the Tuvan people…
We’d arrived at probably the worst time, three weeks after the major festival, the kids are starting school, everybody’s busy preparing for winter, we realized that our chances of seeing some throat-singing were slim to none and that we’d just have to come back some other time.
We still had some jolly good fun…our last afternoon was spent on a peddle boat in the mosquito infested park.