When people ask me which Stan I loved the most, I have no qualms in choosing Kyrgyzstan over the others I visited. Because my month there came with such diverse experiences and ticked pretty much all my travel boxes.
I trekked, rode horses and spent nights gazing up at the Milky Way at high altitudes.
I slept and dined in humble yurts, sharing a table and a room with the local people.
I swam in cold lakes and meandered through colourful canyons, catching sunsets over varied landscapes.
I learnt how to build a yurt, shoot an arrow, hold an eagle, cook some Plov and bake fresh naan.
I hitchhiked and learnt to trust strangers and listen to my instincts when they screamed at me to not do something.
Baths were had in natural hot springs and portable banyas (saunas) to the sound of the wind howling outside, and
in Bishkek, I ended my month at an ancient bath house where in one of the chambers I flogged myself with venik (birch twigs) in traditional Russian style, completely naked with women I didn't know or even speak to.
And then of course, I had the blessed opportunity to witness the World Nomad Games.
Kyrgyzstan is a tiny country with a big, big heart. There was nature, culture, history, food, weird traditions, liberating baths, seasoned travelers to converse with and learn from, loving locals, and just so many unique and overwhelming experiences!
Little wonder that I loved it the most :)