Category Archives: Kyrgystan

People of Kyrtyzstan

It’s not only the landscape or food that defines a country. It’s the culture, and for culture you need people. If they are friendly, the country is friendly, if they are busy and cold, you will have a hard time feeling at home.

The people we met in Kyrgyzstan are some of the most friendly, but also proud people I met in a long time. We spent most time on the countryside and it wasn’t uncommon that a farmer, seeing us stop from a distance, got on his horse and came over, just to ask who we are, where we are going, the conversation with our driver and the guide riddled with laughter. It’s not only curiosity that made them come to us, it was also to find out if we need help.

One day we stopped by a little farm only to be welcomed by a bowl with mare milk for each of us and later some fresh cream with bread. But it’s not all nostalgia and horse riding, the farmer showed our guide a video of him self riding a bike and then was given the keys and gave it a spin.

We only wanted to ask for the way... and got treated with mare milk and fresh cream Photo by Toni Schnydrig
We only wanted to ask for the way… and got treated with mare milk and fresh cream
Photo by Toni Schnydrig

There are kids everywhere, and they are, like most kids curious. Unlike children at home, most of them were not shy at all to approach us, specially when they realized our guide was able to chat with them in their language. Although the questions usually were the same, it never got old to watch the scene 🙂

it isn't easy to do street photography when you stick out like a sore thumb :)
it isn’t easy to do street photography when you stick out like a sore thumb 🙂
Seen at Son Kul, a small lake in the heart of Kyrgyzstan.
Seen at Son Kul, a small lake in the heart of Kyrgyzstan.

It might not be a rich country and after the fall of the UDSSR, much went downhill. But talking with them, watching them, I never had the impression they felt like being looked down upon. They were proud we visited their country, open and by all means not shy at all.

I guess it takes years of practice to look up from your work while you continue to hammer the metal without hitting your tumb :)
I guess it takes years of practice to look up from your work while you continue to hammer the metal without hitting your tumb 🙂

Dust of Kyrgyzstan

When we met our guide, he told us on the first day “Kyrgyzstan is quite a dusty place right now. We didn’t have rain for months” We looked around and yes, the cars in the city were a bit dusty but not that much.

The first day we got out of town and on the dirt roads, we understood. Just look at the picture below. It’s not a big truck or the Land Cruiser creating the dust cloud. It’s just a bike.

It's just incredible, how much dust one single motorbike can create!
It’s just incredible, how much dust one single motorbike can create!

Dust was simply everywhere. On the visor of the helmet, camera lenses, cloths, in the mouth, nose, and by the end of the day all over our faces. There simply isn’t a way avoiding it. God was I glad to have decided to take the Olympus EM-5 with a zoom lens with me and not a system where I would have been forced to swap lenses!

But I also discovered that dust is perfect at hiding grey hair. I mean, I haven’t looked this young in years! And aren’t my eyebrows pretty!

Dust, just ideal to cover grey hair
Dust, just ideal to cover grey hair

When covering the road in a 5 cm thick layer, dust however is hell, specially when driving downhill, much worse than sand as it makes you loose grip very easily. A slight bend with the road, banking to the wrong side can be enough to make you kiss the ground, as I learned on the last day of the trip.

And of course it fills the bike’s air filter, reducing the horse power of the YamahaXT even more (it only has about 40 to start with). I was the first one running into the problem and as the problem only occured around 3000m above sea level we were not sure whether I have a problem with the carburator or the filter. And so we removed the filter completly and I had the honor to lead the pack up the pass. Weeeee!!!! 🙂

This pretty much made clear where the problem was. Every other day, we removed the filter and washed it with gazoline and later Diesel, which was actually the better solution (but takes longer for the filter to dry and then built in again).

Lovely routine - cleaning the air filter
Lovely routine – cleaning the air filter

Biggest advantage of the dust you ask? The clogged nose, when you have to visit a toilet 🙂