The sport of Buzkashi, Kyrgyzstan
Fujifilm X-T3, Fujinon XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR, f2.8 @ 1/4000, ISO 80.
While the choice of a ball might not be our cup of tea, there is no denying the speed and agility of both horses and riders as they play buzkashi. I'm told the name means 'goat pulling' in Persian and I guess it is 'sort of' like polo, except they use the goat as a 'ball'.
In Kyrgyzstan, we took a drive around Issyk Kul, a high alpine lake sitting underneath towering, snow-capped mountains. Like other parts of The Silk Road adventure, you feel like you're stepping back 50 and 500 years. Issyk Kul has some seriously ancient buildings, but its location and use by the locals as a holiday destination is what gives it a 50-year old patina. No doubt the small towns and resorts around the foreshores looked fantastic when they were first built, but over time and neglect have left them with a wonderful patina for photography.
The locals are like locals everywhere, taking in the tourists with a shrug of their shoulders and happily performing when there is a payment involved. We were under no doubt the game and performance were for the cameras, so nothing authentic, except the athleticism, of course!
When I first arrived, I was a little disappointed the riders were all wearing their sports outfits. I was hoping for them to be in furs and skins, I guess. A completely unrealistic expectation, of course. However, reviewing the images now, I actually love the strong reds and blues. There's something about the gaudy colours that makes the scene almost surreal - and I think this is a good example of trying not to have too many expectations about a subject, rather sit back and see what you find.