Kyrgyz Goat Polo

After Kazahkstan, I flew into Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan (a country which would have to be a contender for the most difficult to spell. The word Kyrgyz is apparently derived from the Turkic word for forty and refers to the forty clans in the region).

IMG_29327

I stopped by the Obama-themed restaurant for lunch.

IMG_29323

I also came across a wedding where people were using a drone to take photos.

IMG_29320

Some of the cafes in Bishkek have a face control policy.

IMG_29322

I then joined up with a month long overland tour run by Dragoman. We had a truck and tents and spent most of the time in Kyrgyzstan hiking and camping. The tour went through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and finished in Turkmenistan.

IMG_29340

IMG_29360

We camped on a goat polo field one night. Goat polo sounds like it could be all cute and funny (Do children ride goats? Are the goat playing polo?), but no, it’s actually a pretty brutal sport. A goat is decapitated and its headless body is used as the ball.

The World Nomad Games were on around the time we were in Kyrgyzstan. Steven Seagal was the guest of honor. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/04/welcome-to-the-world-nomad-games-if-genghis-khan-was-alive-hed-be-here

An excerpt from the Americans versus the Russians game of goat polo: “The Americans struggled to gain possession of the goat at all, so, despite a valiant rearguard movement, it was only a matter of time before they conceded. The first score came after seven minutes, and after a quarter of an hour the Kyrgyz-Russians were already leading by five goats to nil. The Americans received warm applause for effort – a US player broke a finger during the match – but an elderly Kyrgyz man in the stands shook his head reproachfully at the standard of play.”

We didn’t get to the World Nomad Games, but we did see some of the locals playing goat polo.

IMG_29806

IMG_29818

IMG_29829

IMG_29831

IMG_29835

IMG_29793

We stayed for a couple of nights in a yurt camp near Song Kul Lake run by a woman known as Mama Business.

IMG_29698

IMG_29705

IMG_29713

IMG_29718

IMG_29678

IMG_29728

IMG_29735

IMG_29737

IMG_29740

We also met an eagle hunter who gave us a demonstration of how eagles hunt. (There was a rabbit who didn’t last very long).

IMG_29557

IMG_29563

IMG_29569

IMG_29595

IMG_29621

We also rode ex-Soviet army trucks up to a mountain hot spring and did lots of hiking.

IMG_29395

IMG_29417

IMG_29450

Kyrgyz taxi.

IMG_29446

IMG_29431

IMG_29442

IMG_29466

IMG_29468

IMG_29472

IMG_29485

IMG_29543

IMG_29511

Yuri Gagarin used to come and stay here.

IMG_29524

Mountains floating in the sky.

IMG_29373

Going through the Ferghana Valley.

IMG_29900

IMG_29954

IMG_29999

Kyrgyzstan’s government after independence wasn’t as strict as the dictatorships in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. There was still lots of corruption and the so-called Tulip Revolution in 2005 overthrew the president. There was another revolution in 2010 and another president was overthrown. The current president has embarked on a campaign criticising traditional Islamic clothing. “’Women in mini skirts don’t become suicide bombers.” http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-36846249

And while you are in Kyrgyzstan it is important not to criticise the local food. A British worker was recently detained after he “compared a local delicacy to a horse penis” on Facebook. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/03/british-worker-kyrgyzstan-gold-mine-held-horse-penis-delicacy-comparison

Tagged with:

Leave a Reply