BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN — This morning begins the long journey home. I was up early to pack and return the UAZ. The city streets were calm so early and it was hard to relate the quiet emptiness of the morning with the chaotic crowds of last night. But I was glad for the calm. And a little bit sad at the thought of returning to the “modern” world after a week in the timelessness of Kyrgyzstan’s back country.
The trip has been short but intense, and it felt a little bit strange to leave just as i was getting more comfortable with the culture and beginning to be able to communicate. Still it was an excellent introduction to the region, and I know I will be coming back — hopefully in the summer — for a longer journey next time.
The drive to the airport seemed longer than when I had arrived, but perhaps it was just more traffic. Or I was tired and less “excited” to start the return than I had been on my arrival. In any case, I had plenty of time before my flight and did a quick stop at the airport shops while waiting.
The first flight is short, but I have a long layover in Istanbul and another long flight back to New York… [read more]
ABOUT THE EXPEDITION
JoMarie Fecci sets off for a solo scouting mission into a new region of exploration for USnomads — the famed Silk Road across Central Asia. This initial recce in Kyrgyzstan will lay the groundwork for a longer and more ambitious journey tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2018. Using this first trip in the region to get an introduction to some different nomadic cultures and to adventurous terrain that will pose new challenges, she will travel south from Bishkek to an ancient caravanserai at Tash Rabat near the border with China before looping back along the shores of lake Issy Kul…
WHERE WE ARE
The Kyrgyz Republic is a landlocked country in Central Asia, bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west and southwest, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east. Its capital and largest city is Bishkek. Characterized by mountainous terrain, Kyrgyzstan has been at the crossroads of several great civilizations, most notably as part of the Silk Road caravan routes. Though long inhabited by a succession of independent tribes and clans, Kyrgyzstan has periodically fallen under foreign domination and attained sovereignty as a nation-state only after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Ethnic Kyrgyz make up the majority of the country’s 5.7 million people, followed by significant minorities of Uzbeks and Russians. Kyrgyz is closely related to other Turkic languages, although Russian remains widely spoken and is an official language, a legacy of a century of Russification. The majority of the population are non-denominational Muslims. In addition to its Turkic origins, Kyrgyz culture bears elements of Persian, Mongolian and Russian influence. However, many aspects of ancient Kyrgyz culture have been preserved due in part to the geographical isolation provided by its high mountain terrain.