Kyrgyzstan (pronounced Koer-gistan) is made up mostly of mountains and is roughly the same size as South Dakota. It’s a landlocked country that shares a border with Kazakhstan and Uzbek and Tajik and China. It is definitely wealthier and has invested more resources into its infrastructure (roads, etc) than its neighbors to the south (Tajik).
The downtown Bishkek is distinctly modern, however its sad Russian past are still omnipresent throughout—rundown and ransacked, the city of Bishkek’s behemoth cement apartment buildings still tower over the same streets. And how they are still standing is the real mystery.
The Kyrgyz are very proud of their horse riding skills, and after traveling 1.5 hours outside the city, I got to watch “Oodarysh” where the participants wrestle on horseback. The most fascinating though was watching the “polo match” which was one of the highlights of my entire journey. Instead of using a ball, the players use a beheaded goat. The object of the game is to get the goat into the goal and the winners get to keep the goat and eat it for dinner.
This country doesn’t have an army, so still has to answer to big brother Russia.