|Roadside kumys stall - made from fermented mare's milk. Image: Silk Road Media|
Silk Road Media has recently published a delightful book - 100 Experiences of Kyrgyzstan. Written by Ian Claytor, who has lived in Bishkek since 1995, this compact edition (16.25 cms x 15.5 cms) is crammed with 220 pages of stunning photography and informative snippets about, well, 100 different aspects of Kyrgyzstan.
The grandeur of Kyrgyz nature is inspiring. The Tien-Shan mountains run northeast to southwest through the country. Even touring in summer the mountain range remains snow-capped. Famed for its peaks, the Karakol region in particular is a base for serious mountain climbers. The sections in Mr Claytor's book about mountains, lakes and valleys are gorgeous. I look forward to exploring more canyons and gorges when I am back in spring.
|Kyrgyz landscape, Son Kul. Image: Silk Road Media|
For example, the kyrk koinok - a shirt for babies to wear after 40 days - is made from 40 pieces of fabric that the mother traditionally collected from neighbouring yurts and sewed together.
I have tried kumys, the drink made from fermented mare's milk. I had not, however, heard the proverbs about kumys such as "Who drinks kumys will live a century" and "Kumys is man's blood, air his mind". I also learned that when preparing the kumys, it is beaten with a wooden stick known as a bishkek, from which the capital city derives its name.
|Kyrgyz kurak, Image: Silk Road Media|
I am smitten with Kyrgyzstan and will spend another 2 months there in 2014. If indeed "Kyrgyzstan is arguably the world's least-known country", I'd probably like it to stay that way...
You can pick up a copy of 100 Experiences of Kyrgyzstan at Amazon.
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|Image: Silk Road Media|