Have you ever heard anything about Kyrgyzstan before? I didn't, until I got this amazing opportunity to participate in a field trip to this fascinating country. Google map shows a very mountainous landscape; it is indeed: mountains cover 95% of the country. The country was part of Soviet union (until 1991), that’s why almost all Kyrgyz speak perfectly Russian, the academic language is Russian and many people in cities talk in Russian to each other (at least learn some numbers and the Cyrillic script, I didn’t but it would help :P).
In the excursion participated 30 students, five experts (geologist, geographer, agronomist, biologist as well as a translator) and THE kitchen team, which cooked us really nice food every day (love you!). We learned a lot about the country, since the experts were from the area. They taught us so much; about disputes with the neighbors Uzbekistan (Uzbek enclaves within Kyrgyzstan, as a result of Stalins’ arbitrarily way of making borders- on purpose to prevent any revolts), water conflicts between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the dominant role of China (they are building power supply lines and streets, with imported Chinese workers, of course and “for free”, in return they get access to valuable resources), the impacts of the independence and much more.
Agriculturally the independence caused big crises. The whole land, as well as animals and machines etc., from Kolkhoz and Sovkhoz, were divided between citizens (all citizens! not only farmers). Land between 0.2 ha to 12 ha per person was distributed (depending on the area). The big difference caused a huge domestic migration to the north (that’s why Bishkek grew so fast). Also on the animals it had big impacts: for example counted Kyrgyzstan 81'000 Yaks in 1989, compared with 2012: only 18'000 Yaks were registered (what else than slaughtering would normal citizens, without farming knowledge, do). Same for sheep 1986: 12 million sheep, 1996: 2.8 m., 2014: 5.65 m, and other animals. Kyrgyz told me, that during Soviet time things worked better, but they wouldn’t want to go back, because of freedom.
I could write a lot more about all our experiences, but due to my limited time I’ll finish this article with 10 reasons why you should travel to Kyrgyzstan:
1. Because no one else was there
2. The landscape is absolutely fantastic!
3. To be picked up by a herder man on top of a hill and be showed around, getting explained how you say sheep, horses, cows and goats, in Russian (or was it Kyrgyz?), while riding his horse! (Maybe it’s more a girly thing)
4. To eat fresh baked bread form a tandoori
5. To appreciate a normal toilet with flush and SEAT!! (Not to forget about soft toilet paper!!)
6. To learn to drink (and after some time even like) vodka instead of water, before, during and after dinner.
7. Always remember: the three most important things to buy, according to our Geographer: Water, vodka and toilet paper (please read it with a Russian accent :D)? expensive vodky: 2 Euro
8. See eagles, vultures and snow leopard (sorry, the eagle, while photographing the snow leopard ;), took my camera)
9. To have diarrhea
10. If you like to have attention: people will be interested in you, although, or maybe because your only words are salam, rachmat and … (forgot it already again :,()