Biz el mene...

kyrgyzstan01Biz el mene means 'I'm with my people,' and in past times has been a declaration of nationhood. In Soviet times, tied in with Bat'kivschina - Motherland.

Bishkek is the capital, a safe and easy-going community according to many westerners, that bids welcome - kosh kelenizdek - to newcomers and foreigners.

The main sport is Ulak Tartysh, a polo like game played for the headless carcass of a goat. (Also played in Afghanistan, and elsewhere).

The official Kyrgyz web site lists some of the other popular games on horseback:

Aht Chabysh - a long-distance horse race, sometimes over a distance of more than 50 km
Jumby Atmai - a large bar of precious metal (the 'jumby') is tied to a pole by a thread and contestants attempt to break the thread by shooting at it, while at a gallop
Kyz Kuumai - a man chases a girl in order to win a kiss from her, while she gallops away; if he is not successful she may beat him with her 'kamchi' (horsewhip)
Oodarysh - two contestants wrestle on horseback, each attempting to be the first to throw the other from his horse
Tyin Enmei - picking up a coin from the ground at full gallop

"Ala kachuu - bridal kidnapping - is officially illegal. But this is how I intend to get married. I just hope it's the right man on the right horse."

Young woman exchange student from Bishkek studying in Sweden. She adds, 'just joking.' But we're not sure.