If you look closer to Kyrgyz culture, you can find that they know how to enjoy life. The way they spend spare time, vacations or holidays is so active and a lot of fun. The main reason is that they love playing games, not simple ones, but the ones with horses!
Since Kyrgyz nation had long lived the nomadic lifestyle, there occurred an inseparable bond between the them and their horses. horses not only provided daily transportation in the mountains, but their meat and milk is often consumed as a part of Kyrgyz cuisine. As a result, almost every Kyrgyz nomad was an incredibly skilled horseman and often competed against others in a variety of games in order to show off their skills.
One of the most famous games played on horse is called “Ulak Tartysh”. Here is the short history of the game:
Long before firearms reached these places, Kyrgyz nomads had to protect their livestock from various predators, especially the wolves. In order to scare them, skilled riders would actually run down the wolves and beat them with whips or sticks with the riders fighting for a chance at the wolf. This became the basis for the game called “kok boru,” or “grey wolf.” Nowadays the game is called Ulak Tartysh and is the most popular horse game in Kyrgyzstan.
To play Ulak Tartysh, two teams gather on a field of about 300 m X 150 m for 15 minutes of intense competition. A dead, headless goat is placed in the middle of the field and the two teams race on horseback to pick up the goat and deposit it into the opposing team’s goal. Naturally, everyone’s fighting for it, so the game can get pretty rough, bloody even. However, to the victor go the spoils: a very tender goat that can be cooked up as a celebratory meal.
These ancient lands are so rich with memories from the past that gives a real success and joy to the ones, who are truly interested in them. Some of them are hidden somewhere hard to reach like pearls deep in the sea; some are right in front of our eyes. We are now traveling to another museum under the sky and it belongs to the second type of historical treasures.
Not far from the capital city Bishkek, there is a town called Tokmok. This small and pretty simple town has incredibly great past and rich history. This is the very place that once was the capital city of ancient Karakhanid empire at the end of 9th century. The ruins of the city was found in our days on that territory. According to incredibly beautiful tower Burana, the only tower that remained almost as a whole, culture and art was pretty developed at those places.
Right near the tower there is something even more intriguing: so many stone sculptures and scripts engraved on stones on the wide field! It is still not that clear what the purpose was and who actually created them, but we know for sure that they are precious gifts for us from the past…
Have you ever dreamed about going up to highlands and discover a new new world, just like in fairy tales? I did! And there is a chance to make this come true…
In Kyrgyz “Saimaluu-Tash” means “patterned or embroidered stone”. This is the name of the place and it is situated in a narrow canyon on Fergansky range, in the region of Kugart pass. Crossing this pass from the agricultural Fergana Valley, you will find yourself in the valleys of the Inner Tien Shan. In the region, at an altitude of 3,000 – 3,200m, is the largest concentration of petroglyphs in Central Asia!
The paintings on rock have survived on stones and rocks at many sites throughout the globe. Unique monuments of our ancestors which have come from the ages, they signal the beginning of the history of fine art. Although people have been studying petroglyphs for 200 years, some of them still remain a mystery to us. Saimaluu-Tash is the largest gallery of petroglyphs in Central Asia and consists of about 90 thousand individual specimens.
Multi-image compositions depict scenes of hunting, domestication of wild animals, migrating along mountain paths, ritual dances of masked people, sun and moon shaped men driving on harnessed chariots and carriages, etc. Authors with high academic credentials regard Saimaluu-Tash as monument of culture of universal importance.
Among the great amount of treasures, Kyrgyzstan is very famous for its beautiful lakes. Among them is the special one that stands out the most and it is Issyk-Kul (literally “The Warm Lake”). The lake is never frozen even in winter and this is the reason why it got this interesting name.
Issyk-Kul is the second biggest alpine lake in the world after Titikaka lake in Peru (with 1600 meters above sea level). Transparency of water is pretty amazing – 20 meters. With 700 meters of depth, the lake includes about 50 types of sea animals.
Nowadays, the lake is surrounded with different resorts and is one of the most visited touristic spots of the country. They say that the lake’s water is very useful for health. So, some visit it for annual therapies and others come with family and friends to truly enjoy their holidays.
Among amazing sides, with which Kyrgyzstan stands out, is the fact that the biggest walnut forest on Earth belongs to this country! The forest is a real treasure of not only our country, but also the whole Asia. The trees that have been existing for thousands of years are still rich with fruit and adds pretty much effort to the economy of the region as well. So, what is that lucky area which includes this unique forest? Dear friends, please meet – Arslanbob!
Situated in the southern part of the country, Arslanbob is rich with not only walnut trees, but also regular visitors for its beautiful and peaceful nature. The forests are spread on the mountains and this is the reason for its perfect atmosphere. Couple of gracious waterfalls add even more sparkles to the beauty of Arslanbob. So, it is definitely worth adding to your “must see places” list!
To my country-mate, who sees nothing good in his or her homeland and prefers leaving abroad without looking back:
Dear, did you have any idea that there are tons of treasures you can be proud of about your country? What if I tell you that Kyrgyzstan is greater even than the U.S.?! In what way? Well, literally! It’s Peak Pobeda (Victory) is much higher than the highest peak in Rocky Mountains in Colorado! For you to compare: 7,439 metres (24,406 ft) vs.4,401 metres (14,440 ft).
And now I invite my foreign friends to take a look at our celestial mountains and enjoy the view!
There is no doubt that every other person in this small country of Central Asia dreams about visiting the United States. For them, it is the land of opportunities, the place which will make them forget all hardships of the world, in one phrase, it is the bed of roses… These expectations came true for some lucky ones, but wouldn’t that be unlike a real world then if it worked for everyone?
People of Kyrgyzstan are always surprised to see American tourists in their country, thinking what can this be, which makes them come all the way from abroad just to see our boring little places. They just have no idea…
They have no idea that the skyscrapers, which they are dreaming about, are actually making foreigners runaway to the untouched mountains with purest air.
They do not want to believe that technology, which they are following without distraction, is actually making its first users tired of artificial world and bringing them closer to the real world.
There may be some exceptions as well, for which I ask forgiveness, but I tried to make it as general as possible. There are many more contrasts to make between these two worlds, which will appear later on!