To the Nomads
To the highlands of Kyrgyzstan
After a year of preparation, the bus takes not only me but also my bike bag and brings me to Vienna. Via Istanbul, it's heading to Central Asia in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. To visit the last highland nomads. But also to get to know the life of the people, their view of the former Soviet Union and their almost neighbor Afghanistan.
Kyrgyzstan, with its 6.5 million inhabitants, is located on the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean region. The Tian Shan mountains with their seven thousand meter high peaks are home not only to snow leopards, lynxes and Marco Polo sheep, but also to the last highland nomads with their animals.
To the north it borders Kazakhstan, a country eight times the size of Germany. To the east is the long common border with China, and to the south only Tajikistan separates it from Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan is considered the most liberal and open-minded country in the Central Asian region.
I travel with Timur, he was born in Kazakhstan and moved to Kyrgyzstan as a child with his mother. I thank him not only for his interpretation in Russian and Kyrgyz, but also for his deep insights into the history, culture and life in today's Kyrgyzstan. And all the opportunities to get to know the most different people in this so impressive country.
If you would sum up Kyrgyzstan in one word, it would probably be 'wonderful hospitality'. Whether in the simplest tents of the nomads in the high mountains, the luxury house of the director of the stock exchange or with the family in the countryside without running water. The dining room is always the center of the house, the table is richly set and the guest is warmly welcomed.