The Road To Osh

November 16, 2017


A lot of things can go wrong when you go on a month-long adventure to unfamiliar places. No matter how much you prepare and try to ensure that everything goes according to plan, it doesn’t always end up the way you expect it to be. There would always be situations that are out of your control that can completely change everything.


Little did we know that the events that we will experience over the next couple of days on our trip would completely change the next half of our adventure.



Trouble on the Road


After spending a night in Kazarman, we packed our bags and headed to the city of Osh.  Although we were still treated by the fantastic sceneries while driving through the mountain passes, we didn’t really plan to stop a lot to take photos. The previous day had been a long and tiring one, and this one was no different. We just wanted to reach the city to start finalising the things that we need for our drive to the Pamir Highway.


But of course, the universe had a different plan for us – it didn’t want us to have an easy drive to Osh. We experienced two of the worst moments that we’ve had on our trip and they just threw our plans out of the window.


Stand Out (Kel Morales)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro: 1/3200 sec at f/2.8, ISO 320, 150mm



While driving through the crazy winding roads along the mountain passes, extreme caution is needed. But I guess some people just wanted to live life dangerously and would still drive at top speed knowing full well the dangers of these road.


As we were driving along a downhill winding dirt road, a car driving at full speed suddenly tried to overtake us. The driver of the car lost control, skidded down the cliff, rolled about four times and crashed into the river below. It felt like time has stopped while we were witnessing all of this. We were horrified. It’s one of those things that you'd never want to see in real life. We stopped and checked if the driver was okay. The car was smashed but thankfully, the guy looked fine and not seriously injured. Matt ran down to the car to help the guy out while I ran off to find some help. We were in a remote area and I wasn’t able to find any help – no cars were passing by during that time and one kid that I saw along the road didn’t understand what I was trying to say. Matt drove the guy back to his family and after ensuring that he is well, we started out on the road again.


The Aftermath (Matt Horspool)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 12-100mm f/4 Pro: 1/25 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 41mm



We thought that it would be smooth trip from then on but not  even 30 minutes from being back in the road, our car started to malfunction. Matt noticed that the accelerator wasn’t working properly. Even though he was flooring it already, it wasn’t accelerating as normal. At first it was still manageable, we were still able to drive at 60-80kph but after a while, it deteriorated and the maximum speed that we could do was 20kph. There were also a couple of times that we had to stop as the car just didn’t want to move. The almost 40 degree temperature didn’t help our situation either. Imagine this: a scorching day, driving in a highway where trucks were faster than you and a car that has the possibility to overheat. Definitely a nerve wracking and scary experience. We were still a good 20km away from Osh when it got really bad but since we’re in the middle of a busy highway, we really didn’t have any other choice but to trudge along. After a painstaking couple of hours, we finally reached Osh and had a great sigh of relief.



Osh and Sulaiman Too


Osh is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. It is located in the south and is also known as the oldest city in the country. During the time when the Silk Road was used as a main trading route, Osh was major node for trading.


The Museum (Matt Horspool)

DJI Mavic Pro + Polar Pro CPL: 1/50 sec at f/2.2, ISO 100



The first thing that will stand out when you enter Osh is the towering mountain that seems to be situated at the middle of the city. And situated at the center of the city, it is. This is the Sulaiman-Too Mountain which is revered as a sacred mountain. It was once a major area of Muslim pilgrimage and a lot of travelers still visit this place to pray.


Even though we were tired and beat up from the crazy time we had on the road to Osh, we didn’t miss the chance to hike up the mountain and catch the sunset there after we’ve arrived. The mountain has five peaks and being situated at the centre of the city, the views at the top were exhilarating. Depending on the peak that you want to hike, the climb can be easy or hard as the steepness of the slope can vary. All in all, the hike to reach one of the peaks takes only around 30 minutes.


The Cemetary (Matt Horspool)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 12-100mm f/4 Pro: 1/100 sec at f/4, ISO 400, 12mm

Urban Playground  (Matt Horspool)

DJI Mavic Pro + Polar Pro CPL: 1/50 sec at f/2.2, ISO 100

Matt showing the kids the camera (Kel Morales)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro: 1/1200 sec at f/2.8, ISO 200, 7mm



Urban Sprawl (Matt Horspool)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO f/4 Pro: 3.2 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 70mm (Live Composite Mode)



We caught two sunsets at this mountain, each time climbing different peaks. We were lucky to have an amazing sunset on our second try as there were heavy rainclouds on the first one. We met some people when we did our hikes. A couple of kids who were really curious on what Matt was doing during our first hike. We actually thought that they would be nicking some of our things but in the end they were just really curious and even helped us get a ride back home. On the second sunset, I managed to meet a Swedish climber that was training in the mountain before he tackle the famed Lenin Peak. It turned out he was the guy that we saw and took photos of the previous day when we were on the other peak. We were actually cheering on him because he was unknowingly being a model for us. Such a lucky coincidence.


 Sunset in Sulaiman Too (Kel Morales)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro: 1/800 sec at f/2.8, ISO 320, 40mm


Jigsaw (Matt Horspool)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 12-100mm f/4 Pro: 1/25 sec at f/4, ISO 200, 100mm


Kel the Explorer  (Matt Horspool)

DJI Mavic Pro: 1/140 sec at f/2.2, ISO 100


Sunset views from Sulaiman Too (Kel Morales)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro: 1/800 sec at f/3.5, ISO 320, 7mm 


The Climber (Kel Morales)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro: 1/80 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1250, 7mm 


Selfie Time (Kel Morales)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro: 1/80 sec at f/3.5, ISO 320, 150mm 



A Moment in Time (Matt Horspool)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 12-100mm f/4 Pro: 1.3 sec at f/8, ISO 200, 28mm (Live Composite Mode)









 Jayma Bazaar


The only other place that we have visited when we were in Osh was the Jayma Bazaar. I am a big fan of bazaars and my heart was set on visiting bazaars in the major cities and towns that we were stopping on this trip. All of the tips that I’ve gathered from my research mentioned that visiting Central Asian markets is a must.


Lost in Jayma Bazaar (Kel Morales)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 75mm 1.8: 1/1600 sec at f/1.8, ISO 320, 75mm 


Jayma Bazaar was amazing and definitely interesting. It is one of the oldest bazaar in Central Asia. What’s really interesting about this place is that the structures that are being used as stalls are metal storage container. Hundreds and hundreds of these containers are spread out on the whole length of the marketplace. While walking along the narrow alleys inside, your eyes will feast on the richness of the culture that’s in front of you. From textiles, food, spices, meat, souvenirs… it was a sight to behold. It was also interesting to watch the local Kyrgyz people as they go about their normal day in the market as there was not a lot of tourist in the area.


In the truest of sense, the bazaar really captured the rich culture not only of the place but of the people as well.


Stride By (Matt Horspool)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 17mm 1.8: 1/2500 sec at f/1.8, ISO 200, 17mm 

Meat Market (Matt Horspool)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 17mm 1.8: 1/200 sec at f/1.8, ISO 200, 17mm 


The Waiting Game (Matt Horspool)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 17mm 1.8: 1/2500 sec at f/2.2 ISO 200, 17mm 


Osh Alleys (Matt Horspool)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 17mm 1.8: 1/2500 sec at f/1.8, ISO 200, 17mm 


 Long commute (Kel Morales)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 75mm 1.8: 1/8000 sec at f/1.8, ISO 320, 75mm 


 Bazaar Talk (Kel Morales)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 75mm 1.8: 1/4000 sec at f/1.8, ISO 200, 75mm 


 Generations (Kel Morales)

OMD-EM1 MK2 + MZUIKO 75mm 1.8: 1/8000 sec at f/1.8, ISO 320, 75mm 



Although we spent three days in Osh, we didn’t have much time to go around as most of our time was spent reorganising the next leg of our trip. Our time estimates for the next leg would massively be off since we lost a bit of time because of the car issue. And given our past experience on the Central Asian road, our initial estimate of 3 hour drive between places can easily turn to 10 hours. We couldn’t take that risk as we had a tight schedule to be able to get back to Kyrgyzstan and get on our flight back. We were originally supposed to do a self-drive in the Pamir Highway using our own car but because of the issues that we have experienced previously, we decided it would be best to hire a driver and a car.


We headed to the Osh Guesthouse to get some help on planning and to ask where we hire a driver and a car. They were really helpful and in no time, we got our new itinerary for the rest of our trip. It was a complete overhaul of our plans but in the end, it was the best route for us.














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