Osh

Sary Tash to Osh takes some four hours over winding mountain roads. Our goal was Osh, and we met very little life along the way apart from herds of sheep being taken down from high pastures in order to spend the winters in the valleys

Osh is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country and often referred to as the "capital of the south". It is the oldest city in the country (estimated to be more than 3000 years old), and has served as the administrative centre of Osh Region since 1939. The city has an ethnically mixed population of about 255,800 in 2012, comprising Kyrgyzs, Uzbeks, Russians, Tajiks, and other smaller ethnic groups.

It marked the midpoint on the ancient Silk Road, the overland trade route taken by caravans between Europe and Asia.

The city's industrial base, established during the Soviet period, largely collapsed after the break-up of the Soviet Union and has only recently started to revive. The proximity of the Uzbekistan border, which cuts through historically linked territories and settlements, deprives Osh of much of its former hinterland and presents a serious obstacle to trade and economic development.

In 1990, shortly before the end of Soviet power in Central Asia, Osh and its environs experienced bloody ethnic clashes between Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks. There were about 1,200 casualties, including over 300 dead and 462 seriously injured.The riots broke out over the division of land resources in and around the city. And in June 2010, riots erupted in Osh, killing at least 400 and injuring thousands of others. "An explosion of violence, destruction and looting in southern Kyrgyzstan on 11–14 June 2010 killed many hundreds of people, Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks got killed and destroyed over 2000 buildings, mostly homes, and deepened the gulf between the country’s ethnic Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks."

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There really is not a lot to detain the tourist in Osh - one is passing through and needs a bed for the night

We had a very nice lunch on arrival, and it was a pleasant change from Chinese food over the last few weeks - funny thing though, I started missing that good Chinese food a few days later after we started on Uzbek meals!!

The National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex Sulayman is carved in the mountain, containing a collection of archaeological, geological and historical finds and information about local flora and fauna. This small museum is on two levels inside the rock face - a sort of big cave. The contents of the museum are not that great, though there is a rather fine picture window as you exit it. From the museum you can walk up a steep path to the top, where you get a good view over Osh. Note that to get the view, you do not have to pay to go into the museum. Personally I would skip the museum and settle for the view.

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Our bed for the night was at Imanjan's Guesthouse. We stayed here in 2012. The eponymous Imanjan butters tour leaders up very well and appears to tick the boxes for Wild Frontiers. Us footsoldiers don't quite see the attraction of this fairly basic accommodation, which does not have much charm (or comfort) and Imanjan does not mix with the punters except on arrival and departure. I have no idea whether the many other accommodations in Osh are any better. The ground company gave the men in the group each a Kyrgyz hat, and Paul is enjoying modeling it below

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Next morning on to Kolkand

On to next town- Kolkand

Back to Overall Itinerary for Silk Road Trip 2016