I’ve always been curious about Kyrgyzstan, so when a friend posted that she is planning to travel to this country, I immediately sent her a message asking if I could tag along. When I started telling people about my plan, I heard a lot of the ‘where on earth is that’ question. I was not surprised because it is a relatively unknown destination. Here’s a little trivia: Kyrgyzstan is a country in Central Asia, the smallest in fact. It borders Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the southeast. It used to be a part of the Union Soviet and just gained its independence in 1991.
The definite highlight of this trip was getting a taste of the nomadic lifestyle and culture this country takes pride on. Trekking the raw mountainous sceneries of the country via horses, passing though different types of terrains – flat grasslands, steep rock-filled uphill, and even the shallow rivers.
I was in awe during the whole time being able to witness nature’s beauty in this part of the world. I’ve enjoyed passing by countless number of sheep, wild horses and cows everywhere – I’ve never seen that many animals in the wild before in my life. Aside from the breathtaking scenery, it was the people we met that made this trip unforgettable – both locals and fellow travelers. I love the fact that even though most of the Kyrgyz locals do not speak the English language (they speak Kyrgyz and Russian language), you can expect warm nice smiles that make you feel that you are welcome in their lands. Even their children are friendly and playful.
There was also something different about the bond you make with the travelers you meet here because you get to break bread with them, exchange stories, jokes, and life lessons – you even share a drink or two of the local fermented mare’s milk because you stay in small yurt villages during the night and the local hosts of the camp prepare meals for everyone to share on a long table for everyone to enjoy altogether. We’ve met travelers from Austria, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. and made ourselves new friends.
Traveling for me is never about getting that ‘perfectly staged’ shot of yourself with the Eiffel Tower or the Big Ben or whatever famous landmark that there is. I find joy in traveling when I’m able to learn cultures in an in-depth level, get to live like a local, experience that sense of adventure, share your stories with people you meet on the road and at the same time learn from them. That is why this trip even though was a short and impulsive, spur of the moment decision I ever made – it definitely is one of the best I have been to so far.
Words and photos by Jayson Cortez