It was with great regret many years ago that I did not stop and spend a few nights in the truly amazing landscape I witnessed through the dusty windows of a van making its way along the back roads of Kyrgyzstan.
The road shot through a steep valley of incredible green grasses and past Kyrgyz horsemen dressed in traditional garb living out of yurts. This was shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and long before foreign tourists started making their way here; and as a result, it was a scene I doubt I will ever see again.
And so it was with a bit of sadness that I came across an article by P.J. O’Rourke in Forbes Life detailing a trip he recently took on horseback through these very mountains and valleys. It was a bittersweet read. I was jealous at first, but one can never stay mad at P.J. O’Rourke and his hilarious articles. “A satellite phone was in my saddlebag,” he writes, “but I couldn’t get a satellite connection. Even by the standards of outer space, Kyrgyzstan is remote.”
O’Rourke, we learn, has never been on a horse before. Unfortunately, this particular trip was not just a horse trip, but a 4-wheel drive horse trip which trail blazed through canyons, along cliffs and right through the middle of thick brush. It was not an easy ride. But, just as I imagined it would have been more than a decade ago, he found it incredibly rewarding.
And, suprisingly, it is still very remote. It seems that the only slice of the modern world which has made it this far into the bush, is the crazy costs of a high-end vacation—$4,100 per person through Wild and Exotic. Damn! I’m pretty sure I could have done it for free back in the 1990’s.