Osh and the surrounding lowland areas of the Fergana Valley feel sometimes like a different country from the north of Kyrgyzstan. Southern Kyrgyzstan (Южный Кыргызстан) is hotter in terms of climate and of human temperament, the nation's modern bread basket, and a historic Silk Road centre. Osh and Jalal-Abad in some ways have more in common with the more-conservative portions of the Fergana Valley just over the border than with industrialised, Russified Bishkek and the north. Throughout, the people are unfailingly hospitable and the region has far more of a classic 'Central Asian' feel than you'll find in the north.
Yet, leave Fergana for the climb to the Pamirs and it's mountains once more. Here lies the Alay: a wide open valley topped by the dramatic 7134m Peak Lenin. This is every part the modern Silk Road, and busy borders with China and Tajikistan still serve as a backbone for the region's commerce.