Kyrgyzstan
Adrian Guerin

Visit the tiny mountain-top settlement of Jyrgal

It’s remote, it’s wild, and it’s high (3,514m to be exact). Tucked away high in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains is a tiny yurt camp named Jyrgal. Experiencing this rugged wilderness is not easy, it requires permits, border crossings and a reliable 4x4 to negotiate the ‘roads’ and ‘bridges’. But sometimes the path to happiness requires taking the hard road.

Haunting mornings at 3,500m.

Hour after hour after hour after hour, in the bitter cold of the night, they stand there. Unable to move. Waiting. Wondering. Scared. Lonely. The livestock of the world: Lest We Forget.

When everyone was fast asleep in their yurts at dawn, the true spirits of the resident dogs emerged. During the day, just like you and I, they were stuck at work in survival mode. They were hard, unaffectionate and stoic as they toiled on the land. But in the bitter morning when everyone was asleep, they wrestled, they ran and they gnawed as they pretended they were puppies.

The sheep had their Merino wool coats on. I had my Merino thermal under layers. We discussed the pros and cons of wearing many layers of clothing to stay warm (my preference), versus opting for one really big, warm coat (the sheeps’ approach). I said that my approach works for me because a coat of their size would not fit in my backpack (I travel light). They said they don’t have that problem because they never take their coats off. ‘What about See more

The best place to be is somewhere else.

Horses play an important role in the history and culture of the Krgyz people, dominating their social, spiritual and economic life. And you discover this very quickly, because horses are everywhere.

The tiny settlement of Jyrgal enjoys some warmly received sun.

‘Enough of the tea already. What time’s dinner ready, Mum?’

Focus on what you can control. Accept what you can’t. And don’t be afraid to cry.

Room with a view. Shared bathroom. Guests are advised to limit water consumption before bed because the walk to the loo is dark, cold and unpredictable.

Livin’ and a workin’ on the land

Do you know how hard it is to get a shot like this? First you need to very swiftly get off your horse. Then you need to get the attention of your fellow horsemen to alert them that you have chosen to evacuate your horse. They all turn around. Then you need to somehow tell them to ignore the camera, ‘I want candid shots, guys. Carry on.’ But they don’t understand you. So they just look at you and wonder why you’re not on your horse. So then you gesture that you’re just going mix things up and walk for a while. You do this via an animated walking skit. Eventually they learn to just ignore you and carry on with their journey (minus Adrian). Result! Click click click. Check results… nailed it. Now, where’s my horse gone?