10-05 Sentob

Dancing at the village festival

5th.October, Sentob

According to our programme a long walk was scheduled for this day but once again as in the Chimgan mountains it evaporated into nothing special. The hotel owner was certainly no mountain guide and there was nobody else available. I had hoped that we would gain some height and have a view across the plain to the Aydarkul Lake, but I was still not fit for a long walk anyway.

However we were compensated by being able to attend a big village festival with lots of food and much dancing by men and women separately. We joined in the dancing, but had to resist being plied with too much vodka. One is expected to down it in one! When speeches were being made I was puzzled because I could identify the bride and groom. Then I was informed that it was not a weeding but a circumcision celebration: different country – different customs. Beforehand we had first paid a visit to the village school and then walked beside a small river through the whole length of the village to the festival site. On leaving the festivities we continued up the valley for some distance before eventually turning round and returning along the same route.

The village Sentob, situated 30 km from the Aydarkul Lake, is a real corner of peace for those who tired of city stress. Between the Nuratau Mountains and the Kysyl Kum desert lies a village, which has preserved the quiet and moral values of the past and it seems that a small part of tradition has been suspended in time. The local people build for themselves houses of small stones, rocks and clay. They plant, grow and gather their own vegetables to cook a meal in the open-fire oven. People gather and dry nuts and pistachios. Each family has a few head of poultry and livestock, which provide eggs, milk, meat and wool. Guests have an opportunity to experience and participate in everyday life of local people. They can participate in baking bread in clay ovens (tandyr), see a wedding ceremony and witness the traditional competition on horseback of Kup-Kary during the game season. The most popular tourist activities are hiking, bird watching, photography, ecological tours and others. Moreover you can just sit on a tapchan (traditional raised seat cum table) in the company of friends and relax, sipping tea and enjoying the birdsong. During the early spring and the harvest period the local population arranges various festivities, attended by performances of local singers and dancers as well as public games.

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