The hotel complex was pure Soviet. Everything built from concrete or steel – decaying or rusted. The gates were shut with no guard in the gate house. Obviously closed, the place was as empty of guests as the outdoor swimming pools were of water.
Andrey pushed open the gates in silence and down we drove in near darkness to the main building. We all looked at each other. This was it for the night.
Two floors with identical straight corridors lit by dim, glaringly white light. 1980’s Kyrgyz nationalist artworks on the walls. The badly closing bedroom windows were adorned with shiny, brown nylon curtains, the walls yellow and floors of linoleum. Drips of hot water from the showers discouraged anyone from thinking of taking one. It was marginally warmer inside than out; we were cold and damp after skiing at Suusamyr and in need of hot tea and a beer. Neither were available.
Nathalie was not impressed so stomped off to rectify the tea issue, undeterred by her lack of Kyrgyz or Russian. Minutes passed and a voice calling ‘Room Service’ could be heard coming down the corridor – she had sourced two pots of hot tea and ten bowls. The group assembled bringing pistachios, fried salted beans and the interesting horse sausage that Torsten had bought at the Osh market, Bishkek. Room temperature and spirits rose – this was all part of the experience.
And what an experience! We had come from Canada, France, Germany, Greece, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland and the USA and had just enjoyed six of the best powder ski touring days any of us could remember. Kyrgyz cold smoke and the place to ourselves. Magical.