- By Amber
- In: Tales From The Track
- 19 Aug 2009
Not an Idle Dreamer
(A discourse on the hard labour involved in a life of frivolity and grand plans revealed)
August 2012 - Update: Our research is done and our plans are set, but you know what they say about plans. Now that we are living in Bali and life has taken a new turn, we've had to put the KHE on hold for a while. Since we're no longer planning on going anytime soon, we've left the KEH pages off this new incarnation of the Dreaming Track. They will be back :)
It's been ages since I've posted to the dreaming track. I've been leaving all the blog work up to poor Doug, who does a much better job at blogging things anyway. I have been keeping myself honestly busy in other ways, though I have a great deal of trouble getting anyone to believe it :)
The only two people who do know how much work I put into dreaming up schemes are Doug and my mother (both of whom seem to think I have a touch of the old OCD). I feel compelled to defend myself against frequent accusations of idle hedonism from those who don't (I am only a hedonist on odd days) and I want to tell you all about the exciting plans we've been cooking up.
It's been a wonderful year so far. Wishes I didn't dare whisper on December 31st have come true and we are happy as pigs in mud. I give Lady Luck her due, but hope that some little of it has happened because we have made good decisions, taken some risks and put a great deal of time into inspecting the world of possibilities. We've visited the Spice Islands, had a wee stopover in Malaysia and indulged in adventure sports on Turkey's West Mediterranean coast.
Even better news is that we still have plenty to look forward to. The comforts of our little apartment in Melbourne are waiting for us when we get home at the end of this month and I'll be going back to work for the company who finally helped me believe that programming doesn't have to be pure drudgery. On November 29 we'll sail from the Kei Islands (near Papua in East Indonesia) in a gorgeous Bugis schooner. We'll stay on it all the way to Bali, visiting islands that have never seen tourist hordes or Westinghouse commercials. If anyone is interested, you can see the schooner here.
You're probably thinking that with so much going right we are just sitting back on our laurels (laurels for luck!) and drinking Mojitos in rooftop cafes near the sea. Well, sometimes we do that, but most of the time I'm ruminating and conjuring and sometimes grinding ideas in this nasty old overthinking skull of mine and Doug is dealing with the fallout. Since we decided it was simply too hot to keep traipsing through dusty Lycian ruins and found ourselves with some downtime in Antalya, I've been using that downtime to slug through the internet and pour my thoughts into spreadsheets and lists and Google Earth and write long letters to people with even stranger habits than mine.
It's just that the trip we have planned at the end of the year is going to be so heavenly and idle and hedonistic and all those things that I simply can't do it unless I am also planning something that will be equally gruelling, exhausting and challenging.
So we came up with this terrific idea to ride horses all the way around Kyrgyzstan! You know, buy some ponies, ride off into the sunset, camp out and be just like real adventurers. Of course, I'm the kind of person who will write out a packing list for a few hours at the beach, and I can't just imagine these adventures and not live them, so I just had to go ahead and get started working on a logistics problem bigger than Khan Tengri and Pik Lenin put together.
So the wee hours of the mornings here (where the descendants of the Altai tribes now live) have seen me huddled over my laptop straining the poor thing (and Doug's patience) with calculations of the geographical, chronological and economic orders.
I'm very, very excited about the whole thing. Doug doesn't ever jump up and down and spontaneously clap his hands, but I get the idea he's pretty rapt too. We considered doing the whole thing by yak for a while but after days of researching their price, eating habits, temperament, stamina and other curious factual data (did you know that the Chinese have a special set of names just for yaks? That they can be trained to come when called and guard your yurt/tent?) we realised that they would probably suffer in the lowlands areas (that's under 2000m in Kyrgyzstan) we want to cover, being specialised for altitudes above 14000 feet.
So, after a few weeks of researching around 8 hours a day, we've got all the answers to our basic questions. We've got a budget, a route and packing lists. Now all we need to learn is how to shoe a horse, fight hungry wolves with kukris, speak Kyrgyz and make nutritious meals from tea, hard bread and yak butter.
We'll be finding our companions for the journey (hey, just because they have to carry us on their backs, doesn't mean we can't be friends) in Karakol, possibly at the animal market they have there every Sunday. For those who haven't been to Karakol, it's one of the most stunningly beautiful places on earth and if your heart doesn't skip a beat when you reach the crest of a hill in that country then you just have no appreciation for the finer things in life. There's horses enough for everyone there (last quoted price from $820 - $1000 AUD for a riding stallion, the Kyrgyz don't ride mares and gelding isn't a polite word if you are a Kyrgyz horseman) so if anyone feels the urge to risk life and limb and have an adventure you'd be better off dropping dead than miss, feel free to come along. We'll be leaving mid-April and riding around 25km/day, 5 days a week from early May until the end of September. 2 days a week are for resting the horses and soaking up the gorgeous scenery. It's a nice slow pace to avoid burnout (human or equine) on such a long journey, and because we'll be spending much of the time at high altitude.
I'm happy with my work for now, so apart from adding hundreds more markers for tombs, crumbling caravanserais, hot springs and shrines painstakingly copied across from the old Soviet maps of the area I'll be taking a rest from planning till we get home and the language and riding lessons begin.
I hope you're all satisfied that we are not layabouts or idle dreamers and you won't mind if I prattle on with our progress until the big departure :)
Dream on always, friends.
Update: Our plans are now well advanced and you can find the details (route maps, packing lists, logistics and HEAPS of other information on our new Kyrgyz Horse Expedition pages.