VIEWS OF KYRGYZSTAN

Photography by Luan Baruti

 

Luan Baruti is a young Swiss photographer who grew up in Leukerbad, Switzerland. His childhood spent in the Swiss Alps is indicative of his unconditional love for mountains and the outdoors. Through his various travels and adventures, he aims to capture the ever-changing variations of light, the seasons and time spent on the magnificent mountainous landscapes he is lucky enough to have in front of his eyes each day.

 
 

Julie Dayer: What brought you to Kyrgyzstan?

Luan Baruti: I think what brought me to Kyrgyzstan was my desire to discover something new. I graduated from school shortly before so naturally I just wanted to travel as far away from home as possible. I wanted to see a corner of the world we Europeans don't think about much.

What is the clearest memory your have from this journey?

I now feel like I know the world a touch better. My travels in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan gave me a great insight into what post-Soviet life looks like. Relicts of the Soviet Union are abundant; most infrastructure dates back to Soviet times and you can still find the occasional Lenin statue. What makes Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia in general such a special place is that it's been influenced by many different cultures: They speak a turkish language, write in Cyrillic, look Asian and are Muslims. The food is a mixture of middle-eastern, russian and chinese cuisine and the bazaars are filled with sowjet-style toilet paper, dried fruits, nuts and cheap chinese plasticware. One great thing about this corner of the world is its traveler's community. You don't meet the sort of people who go on a vacation to Thailand and then think they've seen the world. I met lots of hitchhikers and cyclers on their way from Europe to China or simply people who've been on the road so long they're slowly running out of countries to visit. There's only a handful of travelers in Kyrgyzstan so you keep running into the same people. I have to admit - I went to Kyrgyzstan subconsciously expecting a land full of pretty mountains and happy nomads. That's only part of reality though: Life is hard, people are poor. It's in the very heart of Asia, yet it is forgotten by the world.

Where are you heading next?

I haven't quite figured out where to go next. Afghanistan has been the top of my bucket list for long but that's not really possible with the current situation. I actually spent a few days along the Afghan border while traveling through the beautiful Whakhan Valley that is split between Tajikistan and Afghanistan but I didn't quite have the time, visa and guts to hop over to the Afghan side. Other places I am eager to visit are the Caucasus, Nepal, Pakistan, Ethiopia and of course the Andes.

 
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"I have to admit - I went to Kyrgyzstan subconsciously expecting a land full of pretty mountains and happy nomads. That's only part of reality though: Life is hard, people are poor. It's in the very heart of Asia, yet it is forgotten by the world."

Curated by Julie Dayer