Asia | China | North West | Lake Karakul – Scamming the PSB
I kept waking up over the night as cold drift came in through the cracks on the door, and my frustration over having been forced to stay at this rip-off trap escalated. We hiked around the lake and looked out in a meditative state from the hilltop, the immense natural beauty temporarily dissolved the annoyance. While having lunch at the yurt we visited yesterday, I had a very good conversation with the Chinese-speaking girl about the Chinese influence on the Kirgizs life style, although her teenage cousin continued to interrupt us with attempts to exchange of every single piece of our belongings for his junk.
The evening came around. When we had breakfast at another yurt this morning, the herder told us that he would accommodate guests overnight, but we would have to come after 8pm because the Karakol Resort sent people down to check on them at 7pm. All was peaceful around the lake, and we sneaked furtively to his yurt. I kept thinking about the mice detectives that walked tiptoed on their hind legs in the cartoons while we looked around. The yurt was slightly dirtier, but a lot warmer and cheaper than at the resort. We set our bags down with spurts of giggles. We had scammed the PSB!
When the bus drops you off at the lake, try not to stop by Lake Karakol Resort because that’s where the park administration people hang out, and they would be more than happy to trap down the unknowing tourists for hte admission fee.
The most responsible way of lodging while at the lake is probably to bring your own tent and WARM sleeping bags and camp by the lake. Walk as far away from the Karakol Lake Resort as possible to avoid interference by the hotel staff, park administration, PSB, and god knows who else.
If you don’t have any camping gear, try to stay with the local Kirgiz herders. They would be more than happy to accommodate guests if the PSB doesn’t know about it. Their yurts are cheaper, and the best thing is getting a cultural perspective by staying with the locals. You can hike around the lake by day, and go to a yurt around 8 in the evening. By then the hotel staff would be too busy ripping off their own guests and entertaining the PSB to come over and check.