Kyrgyzstan

ericandeericande Big grinsPosts: 46Registered Users Big grins
edited November 16, 2015 in Journeys
2 years ago my wife and I applied for the Peace Corps. It took 18 months but in April we finally were on a plane and headed to our new home, Kyrgyzstan. The last two months have been a crazy whirlwind of travel, language learning, awkward moments and a lot of fun. Now I'm at my permanent site and plan on updating this thread over the next two years with photos. For more photos and stories, you can follow us on our blog at www.ericandtaylor.com. On each photo I'll also link it to the blog post that tells more about what was going on at the time.

Some of these photos will be snapshots but hopefully help tell part of the story. Others will hopefully be decent shots. I'm hoping to have more free time here than I did in the states to really work on my skills. With that said, here's a few shots of what's happened so far:

1) Leaving Portland, OR. Part of what I loved so much about living in the Northwest are the volcanoes. I love hiking, backpacking and climbing, these volcanoes shape the landscape of the PNW. I expect this to be my last glimpse of these for at least two years.

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2) Washington D.C. It seemed fitting that our staging would be in our nation's capitol. It had been a long time since I'd been here. I forgot how beautiful and impactful the city can be. It's hard not to feel patriotic walking around.

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3) Turkey. This is a country I badly want to visit however we only got to stop over in the airport this time. Good news is it's close and hopefully during our service we'll get to vacation here. Next stop, Krgyzstan.

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4) We arrived to Kyrgyzstan in the early hours of the morning, before the sun had risen. After 3 hours in the bus we took a break from driving and had our first look at one of many mountain ranges in this small country.

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5) Our first few days in country were spent at one of the nicer hotels on the shore of Issyk Kul lake. Wanting to ease us into the country gradually, Peace Corps chose to let us stay at this nice hotel on the shore of a huge lake with snow-capped mountains on all sides. Not a bad way to start.

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www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
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  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited July 11, 2014
    6) After Orientation we settled into temporary home in a village outside the capitol. Village life was pretty awesome. These cows walk themselves home every night at 6:30, splitting off one-by-one as they reach their home.
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    7) Most nights we go to the schoolyard and play with the kids. This kid would hang on me everyime we went.
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    8) Our host mother making manta, a meat-filled, steamed pastry
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    9) Finally we got a chance to go on our first hike. This is the view from the first range of foothills South of our village.
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    10) These odd plants covered one hillside we hiked through. Cool to look at, but the the copious amounts of spider webs strung between them made walking through them somewhat miserable.
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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • squawk77squawk77 Big grins Posts: 22Registered Users Big grins
    edited July 11, 2014
    ericande wrote: »
    6) After Orientation we settled into temporary home in a village outside the capitol. Village life was pretty awesome. These cows walk themselves home every night at 6:30, splitting off one-by-one as they reach their home.

    Having grown up on a dairy farm, this is pretty cool nod.gif Cows even get miffed by our daylight saving time by the way.
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited July 14, 2014
    11) Especially in the village, a lot of our time was spent playing with the kids and teaching them American games.
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    12) Every PC site around the world has a 'Culture Day,' this is one event from ours
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    13) Most dogs are treated poorly here. Our family got this little guy, hopefully he has a better life
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    14) This photo is from our Swearing-In day, these are official (USSR-looking) Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic IDs
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    15) The US Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan gave a speech during our Swearing-In Ceremony
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    ps, can a mod fix the 'Y' in the thread title?
    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited July 20, 2014
    16) A street in Balykchy, Kyrgyzstan, our new hometown. It rarely rains here but is surrounded by mountains and the sky often has these crazy looking clouds although it rarely rains.
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    17) Some parts of Balykchy look like this, with rocky streets. Others have newer, paved streets. One thing that is all over Kyrgyzstan are the piles of concrete like in the lower left.
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    18) My wife helps our family prepare strawberries to make jam with the family.
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    19) Balykchy is an interesting city. Once a booming industrial town thanks to a steady influx of money and work from Moscow, it has had trouble finding itself now. Parts of the city are beautiful and promising, this photo shows the other side. DSCF8274-Edit-XL.jpg



    20) Sheep are a large part of Kyrgyzstan life. It's the predominant protein source here and you see them everywhere. Sheep are almost always killed by families, there is not large, industrial farming like you will see in the US.
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    21) There is a specific method to butcher a sheep or any other animal here. One of the last steps is burning the hair off the head and hooves. The head is the favorite part of the animal for many Kyrgyz men.
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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • DesertDukeDesertDuke Beginner grinner Posts: 6Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited July 22, 2014
    I look forward to following your thread and seeing the new photos.
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited September 2, 2014
    More photos, as always, click on any photo for more photos & stories from the area.

    22) A great hangout spot I go to with my little brother
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    23) I haven't had a chance to capture it well yet but the night skies here are incredible
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    24) We had a chance to explore the Altyn Arashan Valley with it's beautiful views and hot springs
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    25) With an organization I'm working with we took a trip to Karkara valley which forms the North-Eastern border of Kyrgyzstan. To the left of the valley is Kazakhstan, the right, Kyrgyzstan.
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    26) The inside of a yurt with an elaborate & delicious spread of food.
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    27) One of the many endless and beautiful valleys in Kyrgyzstan.
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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,446Administrators moderator
    edited September 2, 2014
    Awesome photos chronicling a great adventure. Some really amazing stuff going on here including some really nice landscapes, like 16, 17, 24, etc. I'm sure it's just the camera angle, but that little boy in #7 looks like he has no arms. I hope that's not the case! Anyway, fascinating stuff. Keep posting!
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited September 4, 2014
    kdog wrote: »
    Awesome photos chronicling a great adventure. Some really amazing stuff going on here including some really nice landscapes, like 16, 17, 24, etc. I'm sure it's just the camera angle, but that little boy in #7 looks like he has no arms. I hope that's not the case! Anyway, fascinating stuff. Keep posting!

    Thanks! The little boy does indeed have arms, they allowed him to hang on me everywhere I went in that village :)
    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 12,284Administrators moderator
    edited September 4, 2014
    Just found this thread. Wow! This is exactly what the Journeys sub-forum is meant to be about. Great pictures and stories behind them. clap.gif
    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • Awais YaqubAwais Yaqub One Inspired soul Posts: 10,557Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 6, 2014
    Beautiful, interior is so awesome! thanks for sharing
    Thine is the beauty of light; mine is the song of fire. Thy beauty exalts the heart; my song inspires the soul. Allama Iqbal

    Gallery
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  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited September 15, 2014
    David_S85 wrote: »
    Just found this thread. Wow! This is exactly what the Journeys sub-forum is meant to be about. Great pictures and stories behind them. clap.gif
    Beautiful, interior is so awesome! thanks for sharing

    Thanks!




    28) Summer camps are a big part of most Peace Corps posts, Kyrgyz Republic is no different. Many summer camps are held around the country, some are just for kids to have fun and learn about America. Others tack difficult or culturally sensitive topics such as Bride-Knapping, safe sex and healthy relationships.
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    29) Dodgeball was the favorite activity at summer camp
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    30) The weather in Kyrgyzstan is very dynamic. Most evenings in summer we could see lightning somewhere around the lake. Next summer I hope to capture some great shots from it.
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    31) Not a well-known fact to visitors here but Kyrgyzstan does have a single train line. It only goes from Bishkek to Balykchy and it takes nearly 5 hours (double a taxi) to do so. But, it is safe, comfortable and very cheap. Perfect for a Peace Corps volunteer!
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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • captnemocaptnemo Depth defying Posts: 166Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 18, 2014
    Great pics, love the kids running and the stormy sky. My parents joined the Peace Corp. and were stationed in Malawi (Africa) which was one of the main reason we returned there when my Dad was looking for a teaching job and I got to enjoy a wonderful childhood there. They ended up spending over 40 years in various countries in Africa. So you have begun a fantastic journey indeed :)
    ps the food inside the yurt looked wonderful now I'm hungry...
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited September 24, 2014
    32) The beautiful Ala Archa valley. This is the only true National Park in Kyrgyzstan (others are listed as such but aren't really the same designation.) Located just 30 minutes from the capital, this is the most popular hiking/climbing destination in the country.

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    33) I loved how this tent looked with such a striking background. Keep walking this direction and you end up in a giant bowl with endless climbing and trekking opportunities.

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    34) As you approach the climbing hut in Ala Archa you reach a zone where the wildflowers cease and the glaciers begin. The difference is striking.

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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • SeefutlungSeefutlung Unsharp at any Speed Posts: 2,781Registered Users Major grins
    edited September 24, 2014
    Great stuff. Thank you so much for sharing your images, your adventure and most of all thank you for your service to our country and our world.

    Gary
    My snaps can be found here:
    Unsharp at any Speed
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited October 25, 2014
    It's been a bit, more photos...

    The following are from Jeti-Oguz, a beautiful area in South East Issyk Kul. The name means '7 bulls,' so-called because of 7 huge red rocks you see as you enter the valley.

    35) A small waterfall we hiked to, it seems to be the most popular destination for locals in the area.

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    36) Our yurt camp at night.

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    37) I love this area. As you come around the bend the mountains at the end of the valley appear and remain in view the rest of the hike.

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    38) We tried for awhile to find a way to cross this river but we were stuck just admiring it from this side.

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    39) The yurt on the left is perched in the most perfect spot I've seen in Kyrgyzstan. I could live here.

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    40) The river outside our yurt camp.

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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,301Administrators moderator
    edited October 25, 2014
    I love seeing the starry nights. Amazing.
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited November 21, 2014
    41) If you like abandoned building, you'll love Kyrgyzstan, they're everywhere. Some where in the process of being build during the fall of the USSR and construction never resumed such as this one.

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    42) A friend examines strange graffiti left behind

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    43) Some of the cool graffiti in Bishkek

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    44) One of the nice things left behind by the USSR are beautiful buildings, some of which such as this train station remain in great shape.

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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • captnemocaptnemo Depth defying Posts: 166Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 22, 2014
    love the yurts at night, not sure what it is about the train station but it does remind me of one in the Ukraine so I guess that is the USSR influence.
    Look forward to seeing more.
  • Awais YaqubAwais Yaqub One Inspired soul Posts: 10,557Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 23, 2014
    A beautiful place, i really want to visit!
    Thine is the beauty of light; mine is the song of fire. Thy beauty exalts the heart; my song inspires the soul. Allama Iqbal

    Gallery
    fineartprints.shop
  • CavalierCavalier Life is a Bokeh Foresthill, CaliforniaPosts: 1,976Registered Users Major grins
    edited November 24, 2014
    Thanks for this wonderful journal of what appears to be an experience of a lifetime. I love all the shots, especially the landscapes. But I must admit, #41 is my favorite - the stark room interior with the beautiful landscape showing through the window like a picture hanging on the wall. Perfect in BW.
  • TinstaflTinstafl Major grins Posts: 355Registered Users Major grins
    edited December 21, 2014
    This is a great thread. Love the pictures.
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited December 23, 2014
    Thanks everyone, many more to post!
    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited December 23, 2014
    45) Riding my bike around the desert near my home I found something unusual but no longer surprising after living here. This bust of Lenin may seem out of place but Kyrgystan is littered with statues and other monuments to the former Soviet leader.

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    46) This is one of many abandoned buildings around Balykchy. I wondered why these bay windows faced the mountains, I later learned this was an old Soviet bomb/gun testing range and officers could watch from here.

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    47) The front of the abandoned building. After capturing this I rode my bike near another building that turned out not to be empty. This resulted in being chased by an army vehicle down the mountain, thankfully it was an old, shitty lada and they didn't catch me.

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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited December 23, 2014
    48) Before winter came, we went for a 3 day hike in Bala Chychkan (Little Mouse) Valley. Besides being a beautiful valley, it never receives tourists so we were met by many curious people.

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    49) This valley had the friendliest people I've met in Kyrgystan. This woman insisted we come into her tent for warm milk and fresh bread. Her brother took us one by one on his horse across a rough river and we had a nice break from the rain in the tent.

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    50) Sitting by the fire under the stars during our second night in Bala Chychkan

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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited January 8, 2015
    51) Relics of the past. A bust of 'Father' Lenin and a mural depicting the boating industry the Soviets created here.

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    52) The boat-building yards. The boat-building industry has been dead for nearly three decades

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    53) A greenhouse grand opening. This is part of a large project the organization I'm working with is doing.

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    54) One of many large carpenter bees I see around here. This guy was about the size of my thumb.

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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,301Administrators moderator
    edited January 8, 2015
    Looks like I've missed a few posts :hide

    I'm trying to imagine what it was like to run from someone driving a Lada. The stories of those things are hilarious-but, you get from A to B and you're not walking lol3.gif
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited January 20, 2015
    ian408 wrote: »
    Looks like I've missed a few posts :hide

    I'm trying to imagine what it was like to run from someone driving a Lada. The stories of those things are hilarious-but, you get from A to B and you're not walking lol3.gif

    The story is pretty funny now but not so much at the time! It's definitely the scariest thing that has happened to me in some time. The military here has a bit of a distorted view of things and given that were likely drunk, the outcome of them catching me was pretty unpredictable...

    And... new photos!

    A few shots from Bishkek, the capitol of Kyrgyzstan. There are more shots from this trip at the bottom of this blog post.


    55) One of my favorite spots in Bishkek is the new Putin Pub. The logo is so funny

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    56) On this night they had a live band, they call this Karaoke Night. Not all things have translated from English here quite right.

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    57) This is Dordoy bazaar, one of the largest markets in the world. The little shops are all made of shipping containers with a 2nd container above for storage.

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    58) This is part of the ceiling of the State History Museum. The entire thing is a giant mural and a wonder of Soviet propaganda. Here, you see a twisted version of Ronald Reagan riding a nuke while people protest.

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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,301Administrators moderator
    edited January 20, 2015
    The Putin Pub. That is pretty cool.

    Good story too-at least now that you're past it :D
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • AlexSharkAlexShark Canonizer Posts: 198Registered Users Major grins
    edited January 20, 2015
    Awesome reportage, especially the photos that include people. Photography in great spirit of discovery!
    Photography is about what does not meet the eye
    Be my guest: Alex Braverman Photography
  • ericandeericande Big grins Posts: 46Registered Users Big grins
    edited February 17, 2015
    A couple photos from Issyk-Ata, a Soviet-style resort in the mountains near the capital city of Bishkek. More photos on the blog as always: http://wp.me/p5bwRq-XI

    59) The view up the valley from the end of the road in the resort. Past here there are great hiking opportunities and natural hot springs.

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    60) One of my favorite things to photograph in Kyrgyzstan are the thousands of statues and busts of Lenin, the most beloved non-Kyrgyz person here. This is my favorite statue yet.

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    www.ericpaulphotos.com - My photography site
    www.ericandtaylor.com - Follow our Peace Corps adventure
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