The set up was like our train trip to Almaty in the fall, with four seats, and then four beds that could be set up. Our train departed around 11:30 PM, which was fine because it wasn't too long before we were all ready to go to sleep. This process was somewhat delayed by one of the train attendants coming by repeatedly to tell us not to pull the red emergency handle in our compartment and to make sure to record all of our nationalities. (Were we sure we were all from the US? Someone in the neighboring compartment said he was from Indiana!).
By the time we started waking up in the morning, the scenery was gradually becoming more interesting. Southern Kazakhstan seems to have much more to recommend itself than northern Kazakhstan, at least from what I have seen so far. It has mountains, and even when no mountains are in view, you see more trees or at least interesting plants. I didn't think this would photograph well from the train, but poppies were in bloom, so we saw this amazing bright red color highlighting the landscape. I watched the scenery and played Farkle with my compartment-mates.
We got in to Taraz around lunchtime, and someone from the homestay near the the nature reserve where we had booked rooms came to pick us up. We had lunch, and then visited the Aysha-Bibi mausoleum. The story I've heard/read about this is that Aysha fell in love with the lord of Taraz, but Aysha's father did not agree to the marriage. They made a pact to marry in secret, but Aysha was bitten by a snake. The lord of Taraz married her just before she passed away, and later, built this tomb for her.
|Old and restored sections|
I heard distant thunder and felt occasional raindrops while we were at the canyon. By the time we approached the place where we were staying, it had started raining pretty hard. Various livestock were out and about and had to be herded somewhere. From the van, we saw a young guy on horseback herding quite a lot of cows. It was a pretty amazing sight.
The place we stayed was wonderful. It was scenic, and had great food. I was happy to get a good night's sleep on a perfectly stationary bed before our hike the following morning.