DAYS OF LEARNING in Kyrgyzstan | From Ancestors’ Knowledge to Daily Wisdom Life

“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.” — Doris Lessing

We invite you to experience the Silent Journey through Kyrgyzstan in 6 days. This trip is part of the 100 Days of Learning trajectory developed for the 2017 edition of Age of Wonderland. 100 Days of Learning is a project that aims to bring new perspectives and values into our everyday lives by sharing peer-to-peer knowledge and life experiences.

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan, a country of incredible natural beauty and proud of its nomadic traditions. In the age of jet travel, we should take a moment to stop and look around to reflect more carefully on our values and resources. Even the very elementary ones, such as water, air, home and time.

The Silent Journey led by Symbat Symbaldieva (educator and research fellow Age of Wonderland 2015) explores modern living with the values and traditions of the nomadic people in her home country. We welcome anyone to join this unique experience, organised by local experts. During this trip we invite you to engage in a modern nomadic lifestyle. The Silent Journey touches upon this way of living by emphasizing valuable silent moments by not using mobile devices and computers, but by opening our hearts. We aim to give everyone the opportunity to absorb the nomadic spirit, and to reflect and reassess our personal assets.

The nomadic world connects millions of people together. Their culture is original and shows a rich diversity in the way people shape their lives. Nomadic civilizations coexist harmoniously with nature. By adapting to their ecological environment, nomads do not significantly change the landscape of the earth. Their culture is all about sharing inspiration and building trust. By studying and practicing ancient traditions, we may explore new perspectives for tomorrow’s society. To get an impression of the trip, watch this short video an off-road adventure trip to Kelsuu lake by Anna Savoskina.

Silent Journey in Kyrygstan
The 6-day trip is planned from 20–26 August 2017. Find below a summary of the journey (please note that the program may be subject to change).

Day 1 (20 August)
Arrival at Manas International Airport (FRU), the main airport in Kyrgyzstan. From there a taxi will be waiting for you to get to the capital Bishkek, a distance of 25 kilometres. We will stay in the Green City Hotel for one night.

Day 2–3 (21–22 August)
The next day we will depart to the Chon-Kemin valley. The valley occupies an area of ​​500 hectares, its height gradually increasing from 1400 to 2800 meters. This area will be the setting from where we will experience the nomadic way of life. You will be involved in installing one of the main elements of nomadic heritage — the yurt. The yurt is a traditional nomadic home that has a unique sacral meaning of family reflection and energy balancing its inhabitants. During the first night of the Silent Journey you will sleep in the yurts, under the myriad of stars. As a group, you will be involved in cooking national Kyrgyz dishes in a traditional way. Please notice this tradition involves the killing of a sheep (as a sacrifice) for cooking this nomadic food meal.

On the 3rd day of the journey, the group will have time for exploration in the mountains. Here you will have a chance to meet local nomadic people and learn more about their ways of living. Our guide, Chynara Seidakmatova, an expert of traditional knowledge, will guide us throughout the whole journey to explain about the ancient wisdom of nomadic rituals. We will explore how indigenous people drink, eat, sleep, work, love, breathe, die, live — and what we can learn from living our life in other ways.

Opening ourselves up to other cultures and customs creates a shift in the way we see ourselves and our problems. What is the role of nature and men, the role of family and each of its members, or between the elements of nature? Water, fire and air — what are their holy meanings for the Kyrgyz people?

Day 4–5 (23–24 August)
The last two days we will visit Issyk (Kul Lake), one of the largest and deepest mountain lakes in the world. Issyk-Kul means ‘warm lake’ in the Kyrgyz language; although it is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, it never freezes. Here we will visit a cultural ethno village Bokonbaeva, where we will spend the night and sleep in yurts. Become familiar with Kyrgyz folk music and enjoy a concert of 12 traditional musical instruments, or observe traditional hunting habits with eagles. Surrounded by nature, there’s plenty of possibilities to swim, relax, meditate or just enjoy your time. Open your heart to new feelings and memories and absorb all the goodness nature can give you.

Day 6 (August 25)
On the last day of our journey we travel back to Bishkek, where we will stay over for our last night in the Green City Hotel again. The next day everyone can take their returning flights back home from Manas International Airport (FRU).

Practical information

Group
We are looking for a maximum of 10–12 people to join this unique experience. We will try to bring together a small and dynamic group of people from a myriad of backgrounds. If you are interested, please make sure to complete the Google online form and tell us briefly why you want to join. We will make a final selection based on diversity and your motivation!

Accommodation
Day 1: Green City Hotel.16, Mir avenue, Bishkek.
Day 2–3: overnights in yurt at the mountains, Chon — Kemin Valley
Day 4–5: overnights in yurts at the ethno-village, Bokonbaeva village, Ton.
Day 6: Green City Hotel, 16, Mir avenue, Bishkek.

Costs
The costs for this journey are based on the local currency of Kyrgyzstan. For a full arrangement including local transport from the airport, and from the hotel in Bishkek into the highlands, professional guidance, food, drinks, lodging a budget of 410 Euros is required. This price excludes travel insurance, air ticket, Chong Kemin national park entrance fee. More information about transferring a deposit will be sent to you after we received your submission.

Reservations
If you are interested in joining the Silent Journey, please make sure to complete the Google online form. Once we received your submission we will email you within 2 weeks. The next step is to reserve your spot by transferring a deposit. The first amount of 200 Euros (the equivalent of 14 800 soms in local currency) should be transferred no later than 29 of July. Details for transfer will be sent to you shortly after acceptance of your submission. The additional amount of 210 euros can be paid in cash (15 600 soms) upon arrival in Bishkek.

Climate
The average weather temperature in the mountains is around 13°C, at night around 0°C. Outfit — good mountain boots and leggings for protecting feet from moisture and snow, jacket, cap, backpack 25–30l. It is desirable (but not necessary) to have track sticks, sunglasses, a hooded jacket, a scarf, gloves.

Meals
Three meals a day and drinks are Included in the trip. The nomadic food is not suitable for vegans/vegetarians as it contains mainly meat (beef, mutton).

Flight
Flights need to be booked by participants individually. Transport to and from the airport is included in the price. Someone will welcome you upon arrival at the airport to accompany you to the Hotel. An indication for a round trip from Schiphol Amsterdam to Manas Airport would be around 300 up to 600 Euros. We advise you to book early. Calculate the costs of your ticket here.

Visa
Kyrgyzstan provides a visa-free regime for citizens from 44 countries to 60 days. Check your country here (in Russian) and herein English. If your country is not mentioned in one of these lists, a standard visa fee is around 50 USD, which you can get when arriving at Manas Airport.

Insurance
Taking part in the Silent Journey experience will be at your own risk. We advise participants to check your personal travel insurance and make sure it’s covering this region. Additional insurance may be required.

About

The Silent Journey is part of 100 Days of Learning and Age of Wonderland, a knowledge-platform and global learning event to exchange valuable life experiences with peers. Age of Wonderland is a platform and change agent for social innovation and transcultural collaborations, founded by Hivos, Baltan Laboratories and Dutch Design Foundation, with Design Academy Eindhoven as a partner. The experimental program is based on joining knowledge, resources and networks of creative innovators. Age of Wonderland wants to boost social change, influence policymakers and have a lasting effect on social innovation worldwide

Age of Wonderland 2017 is kindly supported by Creative Tracks, a pilot project entrusted to a consortium of eight partners from five different European countries, active worldwide. Creative Tracks is co-funded by the European union and seeks to enhance international exchanges of experience, improving access of local culture practitioners and creative professionals to networks around the world.