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Photographer's Note

Getting around in Kyrgyzstan isn't the easiest thing in the world unless you speak Russian, or Kyrgyz for that matter. But I eventually made it to the bus station, which is actually in walking distance from Osh Bazaar, the famous market in the center of Bishkek. I was all set for a journey towards the mountains and the countryside. I failed to find one of the cheap mashrutkas, so I ended up in the front seat of a big van.

The route passed incredibly close to the river that defines the border with Kazakhstan, and Google Maps even suggests that the road crosses the border for an instant. I would be quite annoyed if I hadn't crossed the border a week later, as I was that close. This photo shows all Kazakh mountains and wetlands on my way to Kochkor, Kyrgyzstan.

Indeed, in Kochkor I immediately found a tourist who was ready to go to Song Kol. He asked if I wanted to join and obviously I agreed to that. On the way we spotted the Kazakhstan flag on a mountain, with gigantic letters spelling "Kyrgyzstan". We asked about this and it turns out this region is rather unhappy with its government in Bishkek. Certain groups would rather be a part of Kazakhstan and that's understandable. While Kyrgyzstan became a relatively poor country after the fall of the Soviet Empire, Kazakhstan has found natural resources and takes the lead role in the region, both economically and culturally.However, I found that most Kyrgyz people I met were very proud of their country and their many traditions.

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Additional Photos by Fredrik Henriksen (Bergenphotos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 271 W: 53 N: 654] (3326)
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