I would like to share the Behind The Scene video on the second season of my travelogue documentary, Dengan Basikal Aku Menjelajah that will be shown again on TV Alhijrah soon with full 13 episodes this time. This is the short version of the BTS explaining how I filmed the journey while traveling alone on a bicycle, how I power my device etc. Its narrated in Malay but with English subtitles. More videos like this to come. Enjoy! :)
Hello all! Just wanna share a short video I filmed around eastern part of Kyrgyzstan recently, mostly in the Tien Shan mountains. Kyrgyzstan is known of its green untouched beautiful mountains especially during summer when the nomads come out to live all over, putting their yurts (bozui) all over the country. But the autumn season is another story. Less tourists but very colourful! I love the season, not as cold and interesting landscapes with colourful leaves…
This is basically a test shot since I installed the magic lantern on my Canon 5DM3 camera recently and it works really well! So good when Im able to control every detail, every highlight and shadow on the video. But the post production process is so tedious, took me hours to process each shots which I dont really like and much more complicated compared to the traditional video editing pipeline. It requires high speed cf card too which is very costly. Still thinking if I should use this technology on my next filming project. Anyway, enjoy the video… the beauty of Kyrgyzstan… my second home :)
Travelling… spending time on the road not only can change a dull person to become a great storyteller… but also can change strangers to become buddies. Only after a few days since Anselm and I met with Amber, we already feel closed to each other, no more feeling awkward towards each other. When we managed to laugh over a lame joke, that shows that we are already really comfortable with each other. After spending a few days in Tamga and also in Songkol a few days earlier, we then decided to travel further east towards Karakol, to trek to the very beautiful lake Alakol, a high altitude lake that sits at about 3800m altitude. We took a marshrutka to get to the biggest town in the Issykul province, Karakol which sits right at the foot of Tien Shan mountain range on the east. This is where high peaks of Tien Shan dwell, such as Jengish Chokusu (7439m) and Khan Tengri (6995).
We stayed in a very nice guesthouse with a beautiful garden and great location at the corner of the town… a quiet place by the river. There is a great view of the mountains when you look at the direction of where the sun rises. The guesthouse we stayed is almost like the house that I ever dream to live. With beautiful garden, quiet, great views of the mountains and near a very small town… small enough for me to walk from end to end, without having a need to drive. We waited a day until the weather become sunny again to trek into the Alakol Lake since it was cloudy the day we arrived. The three of us then hired a Russian jeep to get us to the foot of the mountain, before we start trekking from some 2500m altitude climbing all the way into some 4000m altitude. We started trekking when the morning light started shining, giving its beautiful light through the colourful landscape of the Tien Shan mountains.
The trek was quite easy at first when we walked through the forest… not much climbing but quite confusing. After a few minutes going through the woods, we finally came to an open space with beautiful mountain view all around but that was when the tough climb starts… all the way to the top! Climbing all the way for hours above 3500m altitude can be quite tiring unless trained well. I can imagine climbing above 7000m peak that I plan to do soon where the oxygen is half the amount of normal sea level altitude must be a little harder than walking in a shopping mall. Even though Im used to cycle thousands of kilometers through steppe, deserts and mountains, but this is using totally different muscle system. Plus I was carrying my camera stuffs on my back. After a while, we took many stops between the climb. The only motivation we had was the magnificent views along the way and the most beautiful view that awaited us at the top, where the Alakol lake lies.
Once we reached some 3000m altitude, the landscapes totally changed into rocks and snow. It got steeper and quite dangerous, since none of us were carrying any mountaineering equipment. We felt stupid at this point, not preparing ourselves. It feels like we were doing some crazy winter adventure in the Arctic by just wearing tshirt. It was slippery climbing through fields of melting snow without crampons, proper mountaineering boot, gloves, walking stick etc… we were basically naked… completely nothing.
But all the hardship finally pays, after we reached the mountainpass and walked down to some 3800m altitude of the beautiful Alakol lake, one of the nicest lake I’ve seen in my entire life. When I first reached the mountainpass and saw the lake from there, I was so happy, quickly took a deep breath and shouted to both Anselm and Amber, telling them I saw the lake, which motivated them to continue the climb to the mountainpass. We then picked a spot to take a good rest and enjoy the view while feeding ourselves with some food we brought. The water of the lake is crystal clear, its so green, untouched, unpolluted surrounded by wild untouched Tien Shan mountains. Looking at the surroundings, reminds me of the fantasy world I always imagine when I was reading some fairytale books while I was young.
We wished to stay longer but after about an hour, time was up. Anselm already giving a signal that we all should move, since going down will take a few more hours and we don’t carry any camping equipment with us. Going down, especially on the steep snowy part was much more difficult compared to the climb. We lost our track and had to go through difficult terrain without proper equipment. It was so slippery since the snow was melting due to the strong sun and all of us didn’t have any crampons on. So we had to hold on rocks and hard snow with our hands… without gloves. Really bad moves! Our fingers were freezing bad. The only motivation to keep moving now is the good food that all of us imagine back in our hostel and a good long… hot shower! After we passed the hard part going down through the slippery snowfield, we felt so relieved. It was an easy walk down the mountain with beautiful view but it seems that the view of good food back in the hostel seems nicer and were dominating our mind compared to the mountain view.
Travelling without a bicycle seems like a new thing for me. Chasing a bus or any other cheap public transportation seems like another challenge to me. Planning to get to places that are difficult to reach without spending much money is hard, since I’m so used to have the freedom to reach to those places just by pushing the pedal of my bicycle. Good thing is, this time I’m travelling with a friend. Anselm, my friend from Germany who lived many years in Malaysia enjoying the heat of the tropical weather, now travelling with me for a few days. We had a plan to go south to Osh after visiting the beautiful lake of Songkul, but a plan is just a plan. We don’t really want to stick to it. We discovered that going to Osh takes 2 days from where we were and we don’t want to spend so much time inside a marshrutka or shared taxi. We want to spend more time breathing fresh air since Anselm only have a few days here. So we changed our plan to visit a small town in southern part of Issykul, Tamga which is only a few hours away.
We reached Tamga with a warm welcome by a guesthouse owner, an old but still smiling Kyrgyz woman and her husband. She speaks very good English and cook very good food. Her husband, Askar doesnt speak English but he looked straight into my eyes while talking to me. Studying his face and body language, this man seems very interested to talk to me, to share many things with me but we are limited by our language barrier. He seems an interesting person and I regret that I still couldnt pick up both Russian and Kyrgyz language. While having our meal, the French solo female traveller, Amber that we met earlier in Songkul came and joined us in the guesthouse from her one day trip to southern part of the country. It was good to have another companion. We then decided to travel together for a few days.
This is the second time I traveled to Issykul Lake but never been to this part of the lake. Tien Shan mountain splits into two on the eastern part of the lake… hugging the whole lake and connect again near the Chong-Kemin valley to the west. So this time, we decided to explore the beauty of the Tien Shan mountains on the southern part of Issykul lake. It was interesting, as we first went to Fairy Tale Canyon near Tosor village. Its really like in a fairy tale, where we saw some jawdropping view of landscapes made out of red clays and sandstones… except that there is no multiple rainbows since its very sunny. The shape of these stones really look like a group of animal, lizard, snake, dragon and some parts of it looks like the great wall of China! How amazing to think that these stones were carved by the natural sculptor, the blowing wind for thousands of years. The whole canyon took us about half a day to discover.
After spending half a day exploring the Fairy Tale canyon, we then went back to our hostel in Tamga for a good rest. The next day we went to Barskoon waterfall, a nice small waterfall hiding quietly inside a beautiful alpine forest. The hike was easy, only took us a few minutes to get to the beautiful waterfall but there were not much water on the fall. Summer was really dry in Kyrgyzstan this year. Since I arrived Bishkek last July, it only rained twice, about half an hour each. Rest of the days were hot, dry and dusty. The sky doesn’t really cry a lot anymore in this part of the world nowadays. The locals predict one thing, they say this coming winter, it really gonna be a bad one, which means, the winter will be really cold this time. I could do nothing when I heard it, except just blinked my eyes and swallowed my own saliva. I really need to be prepared, if I really want to dwell in the high mountains this coming winter… The dark cold winter days will come here soon and nowhere I can run. The mountainpass in the southern Pamir already been covered by snow now. And thats the only road for me towards the west, towards the sunset.
After I reached Bishkek a few months ago, I took a good break from cycling… protecting myself from the fierce sun and extreme heat of the Kyrgyz summer. Living in this world, you just can’t get everything. When you get something, you lose another. I get to sleep in a comfortable bed at home, eating proper and on time etc… but I miss being in the mountains. For some 6 weeks, I spent most of my time in front of my computer screen doing the final editing of my film but I left my bicycle in the balcony untouched… together with my panniers, backpacks, sleeping bag, tents and all my other travel equipments. Instead of pushing the pedal of my bicycle through mountains, I spent most of my time pushing the mouse button and keyboard on my computer… transferring the experience of my latest cycling journey into a series of travelogue film… so that I can share my experience… my thoughts… my ideas… to everyone. Ideas… that always come mysteriously into our mind out of nowhere.
Time passes by without me realizing it. Slowly, it gets colder in this part of the world. The wind started to blow the cold air. Leaves started to change its colours from green into yellow and red… and finally fall on earth. Every evening when I look at the sky from the balcony, I saw thousands of birds flying, probably migrating to other places, since the cold days will come here soon… the dark cold winter. The summer was really hot and dry and at one point, it started to rain here. Once the rain started, it got cold slowly at least during the night. I started to wear 2 layers of clothes at night until the rain turned into snow, then I wear the third…
A friend of mine, who is originally from Germany but living in Malaysia, came to visit me here in Kyrgyzstan, since he planned to spend some quality time in a beautiful mountainous landscape of Kyrgyzstan and breath the fresh unpolluted air here. We then travel together to a beautiful spot in Naryn Province, a high altitude lake called Song Kul, which sits above 3000m altitude. This time, I travelled without my bicycle. For now, I plan to leave the bicycle behind and travel on foot… taking all the advantage to reach places that I can never reach on a bicycle. We travelled by marshrutka, a type of van that is popular among the local people around this region. We travelled from Bishkek to Kochkor by it, then we get a shared taxi with another 3 French tourists to Song Kul lake.
It was raining while we were on the way to the lake, the sky covered by thick dark clouds which is usually not a good sign. When its raining in lowlands, usually it will snow anywhere above 3500m altitude. But when we reached the lake, the rain stopped, the dark clouds still dominating the sky but the sun managed to shine fiercely, giving a very beautiful lighting and the scenery around the lake really looked surreal. And I quickly grab my cameras and film the beautiful surroundings.
We stayed for 2 days in a Kyrgyz yurt, called Bozui in Kyrgyz language, together with the 3 French tourists. During the day, we all do our own activities, some went for horse riding… me and my German friend went hiking to the nearby mountains. It was an easy hike but we were breathing quite heavily due to the high altitude. But the view was magnificent. We could see the view of the whole lake from the mountain and the weather was good… warm and sunny.
During the night after having dinner together, I decided to stay outside the bozui in the dark, lying on the grass… waiting for the milky way to appear in the night sky. It was very cold at night even though its still autumn… probably below 0 degrees. But when the sky became dark, the milky way finally appeared… decorating the night sky beautifully and I was awed watching it, admiring this massive ring of stars. It feels magical staring at this beautiful starscape. The longer I watched it, the further my inner mind flew, totally into another realm, imagining myself flying from one star to another, from one planet to another. I imagine myself flying free in the milky way without needing to worry about getting tired or getting hungry, unlike here on earth while our soul are stucked here inside our physical body.
After spending hours in the cold admiring and filming the milky way, I went back to the bozui very quietly after the midnight, afraid that I might be disturbing others since everybody were already sleeping. The next morning, we all departed to our own ways. The French travellers went somewhere else and me and my German friend decided to travel to another lake, Issykul, the biggest lake in Kyrgyzstan. The locals in Song Kul lake told us that they will leave to the lower land soon… probably in a week time since its getting colder there soon and the path will be covered by thick snow on winter… making it very difficult to travel around this area.