After months of traveling through overcrowded, over polluted, and under construction China, Kyrgyzstan is a huge breath of fresh air. The landscape is dominated by glorious mountains from the the Pamir Mountains in the south and the Tian Shan in the north. Only 35% of the land is even livable because of the harsh climate and rugged terrain the mountains create. And in that livable land, there are only 5.72 million inhabitants. In China alone there are 23 cities that have a larger population than the whole country of Kyrgyzstan. Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, has only 232,000 people.
The decrease in population in a land full of vast resources is immediately noticed when walking around the city. The morning, mountain crisp air allows you to see the white capped peaks that surround the city. The markets are stocked with the freshest fruits and vegetables I have seen in a long time, and the streets are moving people around town in an orderly fashion. Every thing is green from the fresh spring rains and the people are enjoying the warmth and sunshine of the coming summer months. Right in the middle of this lively urban center in the mountains, the roads slowly descend to the trap covered, corrugated metal and shipping container market place that takes you back to centuries long ago.
Right along river, the old bazaar takes you to a totally different world from a different time. Down here you will weave through tiny streets covered with colorful silks, aromatic spices, bloody meat, and fresh vegetables. The pace is slow, as shoppers make their way to the neatly assorted stands, buying their goods for the day. The dirt roads are filled with puddles and pothole, while some stalls are located in abandoned concrete structures. The people are friendly and excited to welcome the visitors to their beautiful country and allow us to sample their fresh food and ingredients. This unique Bazaar will take you almost a kilometer through the middle of town, displaying the old agricultural culture of the Kyrgyzstan people.