Discovery Kyrgyzstan
 
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008
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Vasily Zalokar

Project Coordinator of the Tourism Destination Marketing Project, implemented by HELVETAS, Swiss Association for International Cooperation, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

After spending two weeks around Kyrgyzstan at the beginning of May, Claude and Marcelle were overwhelmed. They asked me, "Why is this pearl of a country so little known?"
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The Secret Mission of Issyk-Kul
Many tourists, when visiting Issyk-Kul for the first time, admire the beauty of the lake and wonder why they have never heard of this beautiful place. Why is it that this natural phenomenon that inspires anyone who sees it for the first time remains almost unknown to the world?
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The history of Russian geographical names in today's Kyrgyzia
The first Russian settlements on the territory of Kyrgyzia developed into military bases such as Aksuyskoe, Narynskoe and Karakol'skoe. Established between 1863 and 1873, they derived their names from the nearby rivers Ak-Suu, Karakol, Naryn. But military affairs were not an effective basis for economic development and consolidation of the Cossack empire in the new territories. So a decision was taken to resettle peasants from central provinces of Russia into the area. The greatest number of migrants was from the Poltavskaya, Kurskaya, Voronezhskaya, Khar'kovskaya, Kievskaya, Ekaterinoslavskaya and Orlovskaya provinces of Russia.
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Circumnavigating Issyk-Kul
An old Hindu story tells of six blind men who meet an elephant for the first time. Each of them encounters a different part of the elephant and consequently each describes the elephant in very different terms. The blind man who feels the squirming trunk of the animal believes the elephant is like a snake, the man who grabs the long smooth tusk believes it is more like a spear, the one who grabs its swinging tail believes it is similar to a rope, and so on. Limited by their narrow encounter with the elephant, none of the men is able to understand what an elephant is really like.
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The Kalpak

The Kalpak, properly called the "Ak Kalpak" (white Kalpak), is a hat usually made from four panels of white felt with traditional patterns stitched into them as decoration. It is worn by males of all ages especially in rural Kyrgyzstan, and is a symbol of the nation. (One writer has even written that "what the baseball cap is to the Americans, the Kalpak is to the Kyrgyz".)
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Older than Rome
Osh is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, reputedly 3000 years old. Archaeologists have found artefacts dating back to about the fifth century BC. One claim that is often heard is that Osh is "older than Rome".
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Tash Rabat
Tash Rabat is a carefully restored stone building that once housed an inn on the Great Silk Road and is, according to one source, one of the best preserved Silk Road sites to be found. "No other retains as much of its original atmosphere".
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Mineral water
Although mineral water is often thought of as a drink, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it more generally as 'water found in nature with dissolved salts present'. Some salts, of course, do not make for a very pleasant or refreshing drink.
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The Uzgen Minaret
The city of Uzgen is said to date back over 2000 years. It is claimed to have been the site of a number of citadels built at various times since the 1st century BC, and is sometimes identified with the town of Yu in 2nd century BC Chinese Chronicles. There are even claims that it was the site of a camp for Alexander the Great's troops.
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Yaks

Yaks are large animals related to cattle and can reach up to two metres in height.

As long ago as 3000 years ago, they were first tamed by man. Domestic yaks tend to be smaller and quieter than wild ones. They do not need special care and are able to survive on scanty mountain vegetation. As well as being husbanded for their hair, milk and meat, they are used as pack animals.
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Kyrgyz Music

In Kyrgyz art, pride of place is given to instrumental music. All inhabitants of a nomad group - from children to the elderly gather together to listen the master instrumentalists play. The most fascinating festivals are those in which music competitions are held. An instrumental ensemble was also an essential element of military campaigns.
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"At Chabysh 2005"

In antiquity the Kyrgyz people used to organize horse-racing dedicated to great feasts marking the milestones of nomadic life the birth of a child, marriage, ash (funeral feast), arrival of an important guest.
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Kurak a part of the Kyrgyz heritage

The Kyrgyz are an ancient people that have, for many centuries, preserved a traditional, nomadic, pastoral lifestyle in the Tien Shan Mountains of Central Asia. Although most Kyrgyz now live in towns and villages and the number of nomadic shepherd families is not as great as it used to be there is a strong interest in their traditional culture and crafts. To many people this is usually interpreted as "felt work" but the nomadic family, often living alone in isolated mountain pastures for long periods of time, had to be masters of many different crafts. Kurak or patchwork was one such craft.
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Discovery Kyrgyzstan #4

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