One morning in Bishkek, preparing for day one , as we spilled out of the hotel, Ratna mentioned they had driven outside the city earlier in the morning and it was beautiful, with snow clad mountains , huge lake and the likes. But nothing can ever prepare you for the sight that is this lake. As you wind your way through Bishkek and slowly feel the traffic slipping away, your view opens up to vast grasslands. But at Cholpon Ata, the first glimpse of the lake is breathtaking! Its huge, its blue, its surrounded by snow-covered mountains that peek through clouds, and it makes you stop in amazement and wonder! There’s a legend about this lake that might be a better description. Apparently there wasn’t always a lake here; the place was a thriving town. A poor man there had a beautiful daughter. The Khan had heard of the daughter’s beauty and wanted to marry her. She refused however, ’cause she was in love with a soldier in the army. As the soldier left for the war, he handed her a ring to be worn at all times to protect her from evil forces. The Khan pursued her with great effort and she refused sincerely each time. One day, she realised she had lost the ring and went back to look for it in the mountains. She did not find the ring nor the soldier but ended up being caught by the Khan’s men and brought to him. Thrown into a tower in the Khan’s castle, she continued to resist his advances until he decided it had been too much wooing and he was going to use force. The girl threw herself off the tower in an attempt to evade the monster and landed on a rock that burst into a geyser. The water rushed through the city and drowned it forever to form this lake with unmatched beauty. They say Issyk Kul is as beautiful, serene and peaceful as the girl and the water as hot as her anguished heart. And that, if you look closely you can see the father’s face in the mountains as the tears he sheds over his daughter’s plight, keep the lake full.