Bucolic Landscapes of Kyrgyzstan

I’ve missed this space terribly, dear readers and I hope you can forgive me for the prolong neglect. Sometimes, a short pause can slip into limbo and descend heftily into inertia.

While I am physically back in Shanghai, my mind remains wrapped up with a slew of photographic work from Central Asia. In mid-October, I joined two researchers who are on a year-long project covering China’s growing influence in Central Asia. You can view their research and my photography at this site which I’ve helped set up.

For the first of several trips to the region, I played photographer, translator and intrepid journalist to document relevant trends for the project. We spent two weeks travelling north to south of Kyrgyzstan and the last week in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

While my colleagues were busy interviewing government officials, academics and businessmen to gain a bird’s eye view of the geopolitics of the new Great Game, I spent much of my time pounding the pavements making street photos, befriending absolute strangers who’d warmly welcome me into their circles and gaining first-hand accounts of their lives in the context of a rising China. A smattering of English, Russian (I did 1.5 years of it in graduate school) and even Chinese gets you very far and it doesn’t take much to ingratiate yourself with the local community.

In Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, I discovered a vibrant hip-hop scene amongst the city youth, well-educated university students eager to practice foreign languages, a burgeoning Chinese cultural influence around the major cities and best of all, crowded and bustling bazaars that bring together traders from all over the region.

But nothing was more thrilling than driving cross-country, north to south and back again (10 hours each), to really absorb the beauty of Kyrgyzstan. The journey was studded with bucolic landscapes and herds of mindless sheep, cows and galloping horses. Changing climates in different parts of the country meant dashes of red and yellow against lush greens, and the reverse only one week later. The views weree similar to the landscapes of Southern Xinjiang which I visited the previous year, as Kyrgyzstan is after all, just the other side of the Tianshan Mountains separating the two countries.

Enough, you say. Less words, more photos. Enjoy.



  • Reply November 24, 2011


    beautiful scenes, well captured. looking forward to the street photos!

    ps1: you really need to clean your sensor!
    ps2: the link to http://chinaincentralasia.com needs a fix

    • Reply November 24, 2011

      Sue Anne

      Anton, I wonder if it’s really the sensor thing or the resolution. The pictures look cleaner in Lightroom. But you are right in that I need to have the sensors cleaned, it’s been a while.

      As for the link, it should be correct. You can try again? http://chinaincentralasia.com/

      And finally, your Behind the Camera Interview should be up early next week!

  • Reply November 24, 2011

    Adam Daniel Mezei

    Hi SAT,

    Like I’d mentioned on FB, I feel rotten now, the more I gaze at these — standing back from my monitor to gain the full measure of them — that I didn’t take that diplomatically-sponsored trip to Bishkek last year, October.

    I’m so reminded of Xinjiang’s lolling stretches from Crouching Tiger — so reminiscent of that, in your photos.

    Truly fortunate for having had the chance to photodocument this place.

    And I learned something new about you in the process, spaseebo.


    • Reply November 24, 2011

      Sue Anne

      Ah, you’ve missed out for it is a bit of a commitment to travel to the region! But there is always next time, and when you do, let me know and I will write down a list of recommended things to do. By the way, if it was last October, I gather it was cancelled due to concerns over the riots. I have heard from people when I was in the southern regions like Osh and Jalalabad that the violence was extreme. You can still see evidence of it. Cheers for the mentions on FB and Twitter.

  • Reply November 24, 2011


    Sue Anne, It’s the link in this sentence “You can view their research and my photography at this site which I’ve helped set up.”
    It directs to http://shanghaistreetstories.com/chinaincentralasia.com

    • Reply November 24, 2011

      Sue Anne

      I noted it earlier and made the correction. Cheers for your sharp eye, Anton.

  • Reply November 24, 2011


    We missed you too. Great sky and montain pictures- thanks

  • Reply November 25, 2011


    gorgeous photos of this less documented region. looking forward to more of your accounts and photos in kyrgyzstan and kazakhstan !

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