Once in Karakol, we took a marshrutka to the hostel. This time it was Bailanysh guesthouse, loceted 10 minutes walking from the center. When we got there only a guy welcomed us, showed us the room and not much else, as the owners were not there that day. But it was ok, a nice room, slow but working internet and warm.
We had dinner at Stealth restaurant, one of the few opened options in town. Karakol is mainly a summer destination and at this time of the year there were no tourists and a lot of places were closed, partly also because of the New Year holidays.
After some good laghman and beer, back to the guesthouse to have some sleep. The following morning we woke up and again, we didn't see the owners anywhere. Ok, we went out towards the main bazar, as the plan was going to Jeti Ögüz, a nearby village famous for its red rock formations.
In the end we got to the right place to take some transportation to Jeti Ögüz, and after not listening to a taxi driver that assured us there were no marhsrutkas going there (taxi drivers in the Stans countries always play the same, trying to make you believe the only way to go to your destination is by taxi), we found the right marshrutka, jumped into it and in 20 minutes we were in the village of Jeti Ögüz. Jeti Ögüz is a tiny vilage with a few people walking around together with cows, horses and sheeps on the streets.
And so we did. We jumped into a really old Soviet Lada car which was hardly running and we made it to the rock formations. On the way there the landscape is amazing: a narrow road with animals crossing it and with massive snowed mountains in front of you. At the end of the road you get to Jeti Ögüz Sanatorium, some kind of hot springs, and next to them you have the Seven Bulls. It is a strange rock formation resembling 7 bulls, as there are 7 rocks (actually I counted 8, though). The rock is red and it looks a bit like the Grand Canyon (just the color).
We took some pictures an back into the Lada, which this time didn't want to start. Some pushing and back onto the road. The next stop was next to the Broken Heart. It is another red rock formation but this time resembling a broken heart, as the rock is split into two.
When we finished taking pictures and walking around, back into the Lada and to Jeti Ögüz. from there a marshrutka back to chaotic Karakol bazar and I went to shave to a nearby hairdresser. It was quite funny, as the women there were quite shocked to see a foreigner and they even took pictures of me while I was being shaved. they did a good job, though.
The rest of the day was spent going to visit a Chinese mosque, a Russian church and to the tourist informatin to see what were the options around Karakol in wintertime. Actually quite a lot. We could go skiing, to Jeti Ögüz, to some hot springs, to the lake... And we decided we were not in the mood for long trekkings, so we would go to visit the lake the following day.
Around an hour later, marshrutka back to Karakol and some shopping for that night, as it was New Year's Eve. People in Karakol (and probably in all Kyrgyzstan) were buying some nice and colorful cakes for that day, which were on display in all shops, so we decided to buy one as well. With a cake, a bottle of champagne and a bit more of food we went back to the hostel to find a nice surprise: the owners were back and they had prepared us some New Year's Eve presents: tea, coffee, champagne, mante (kyrgyz dumplings), salad... and some Christmas decorations in the room. Really nice.
At exactly 12 we could see fireworks starting all over Karakol, although small ones. People were throwing them from home. Well, it is a family celebration and they don't do any public thing at 12, so we just drank a bit of champagne and back to the hostel. Soon we were sleeping, so not really a New Year's Eve celebration to remember.
The first day of the year was spent just resting and waiting for the following day to go back to Bishkek, as on the 1st of January everything was closed and we could have had problems to find transportation.
You can now check the Issyk-Kul travel guide and all the pictures of the days spent in Kyrgyzstan.