Adventure Under The Light Of Summer
The calendar finally turned into a new page, marks the month of June. Less clouds dominating the sky, giving its way to the sun to shine proudly, sharing the heat and encouraging the world of flora to flourish. The snow has melted here, turned into water and the earth filled with fresh green grass and colourful wild flowers. Water from rivers and streams started flowing. From the ground where my feet were stepping… my eyes were drawn all the way to where the earth and the sky meet in the far horizon… watching countless souls living a new life. The wolves have left to the higher mountain peaks to hide… giving ways for sherperds to fill the land with their sheep in search for fresh good grass. The summer season is finally here in the land where 2 great mountain ranges meet… the Pamir and the Tien Shan. Everything happens exactly when and where it should be… exactly as it was written. I see all these as how the nature communicates with me, sending me a sign that I should be on the road again, to keep moving like nomads… not in search for better grass for my herds… but in search for more experiences, to learn about both the universe and myself… to find more ideas for me to keep writing, to fill more pages of my grand journal, where I will share it with my son one day when he is able to understand things, and for him to share it with his son when Im no more walking in this realm of space and time….
Everything were prepared, my feet were already inside my boots, my stove are ready for hardwork again, food stock for weeks were already packed but both my bicycle and my skis are still in my home in Bishkek… abandoned and covered with dusts. This time Im not travelling with my bicycle or my skis anymore, but instead Im trying something new here. I will travel with my 2 horses. I started having relation with horses and riding them since Im in Central Asia but never travel with them. This is going to be something totally new for me. The memory when I first started travelling on my bicycle 5 years ago in Chengdu, China was so fresh inside my mind. I had exactly the same feeling now, dont know and have no idea what Im doing. Im never prepared to travel with my horses alone, but I will just go. There are some fear inside me but that makes me focus and becoming aware of my actions. People in Karakol particularly in Jolkolot village were so kind for helping me to prepare. I get many tips from Almaz, the horsemaster, the man who taught me everything I need to know about horse. I started my journey from his home where I put my horses, in Jolkolot village. Right before I started my long journey, Almaz invited me for a tea and bread. Then came another friend named Khairat, who decided to accompany me for 3 days until Ak Terek. After we finished our quick meal, Almaz bid farewell to both Khairat and me following the Kyrgyz tradition and we finally left his place towards the mountains.
We travelled for about 6 hours daily, covering less than 40km a day since the road we were taking was difficult, crossing high mountains. The view is magical under the light of summer, it is so colourful unlike the wintertime where everything is covered with thick snow. After hours of hardwork, it was a relief to see the birdeye view of the Issykkul Lake from the mountainpass. It looks so grand, the vast high altitude lake seems endless from afar, when the blue lake connects with the blue sky when seen from the far distance. I took the advantage travelling by horses to go to places that I can never reach with my bicycle, almost the same road I took when I was travelling with my skis last winter… but the view is totally different now, almost like in totally a different place. Khairat and me just kept riding until when the shadow was twice as long, when the sun is about six fingers away from the western horizon, we stopped and found a place to pitch our tent, a place where we found good grass for our horses. Our stomach were making strange sound from the inside, giving a signal that we should cook and feed ourself while our horses were already enjoying the fresh grass in the mountains. We spent the rest of the daylight watching the beautiful view of the surroundings, enjoying every moment, the fresh air in our every breath.
Many local people are worried about me travelling alone with my horses here crossing the mountains. They said that travelling on a bicycle or even on a ski through the wild mountains is okay. But on horses, I will attract wolves to come right towards my campsite. My argument is different. Travelling on horses is safer, since if wolves ever come, they will go after the horses instead of me. Wolves… like dogs, are brainy. They will choose the weaker target. They know humans carry weapons with them. So if I ever cross under a wolf attack, I will have the advantage to sneak and attack the wolves since they will be busy concentrating on the horses instead of me. But I always put their warnings into weight. The mountains are filled with sherperds now during summer time, so I feel safer camping near their territorries. And of course, if there are wolves nearby, they will surely go for the sheep instead. There is a man from Jolkolot village in Karakol even offered me to take his fierce taigan with me, to protect me from wolves at night. I refused, the offer is too much for me to embrace. Taigan is a type of dog found in Kyrgyzstan who doesnt fear the wolves. Kyrgyz hunters often used them to hunt wolves in the mountains, usually pair them together with their golden eagle. During the hunt, hunters will release their taigans first to chase the wolf. The wolf gets panic and will start to run away. Only then, the hunter will finally release his deadly eagle to finish the job. The Kyrgyz embrace the taigan so highly, the Kyrgyz delegation used to present a taigan dog to Norwegian delegation as a gift during their visit in Norway many years ago.
I learned so many things from Khairat during the 3 days ride towards Ak Terek together. He was a great travelling buddy. We didnt talk much during the ride since it was usually very harsh ride towards the wild road in the wild mountains. But when we stopped to camp, we exchange so many interesting stories. We learned from each other. He taught me so many important things I need to know about horses, and I taught him how to do namaz (prayer) the Muslim way since he was so interested to learn it. Hes not really a morning person, he usually wakes up when the sun is about 8-9 fingers away from the horizon. So I usually use my time alone early morning working on my film, cooking breakfast etc.
Having Khairat is also a great advantage for me. He speaks Kyrgyz and able to communicate with all the sherperds along the way to ask about the road ahead of us. After 3 days of ride, we reached Ak Terek and it was time to say good bye to him. He then returned back to Jolkolot to his family, and I proceed further west towards the sunset. From now on, my companion is my two horses, a black and brown horse. Kyrgyz horses are just like the Mongols, theyre smaller in size compared to European breed but much tougher. They probably cant gallop as fast as European horses but theyre very agile, they can climb high mountains yet they eat less food… making it perfect for long distance travel. Theyre also not choosy, they eat any grass and no extra supplements needed. I kept pressing further with my horses, climbing up and down the mountainside, getting myself lost deep inside the Tien Shan range. I passed by hills after hills, sherperds after sherperds. Theyre mountain people and very generous. They still keep their tradition strong… and maintain the law of hospitality. Whenever I stop by their bozuis, they will provide me bread, tea and airan, and will take care of my horses during my visit. After a short visit to their bozuis, they will accompany me until we reach high pass where the view is clear. After showing me the way, telling me which mountain I should cross, then I proceed alone… heading towards the horizon, going further trying to find out what is beyond the horizon…