Monday Reflection

Monday Reflection

20 Things I learned in Kyrgyzstan

Some of you will know that I went to Kyrgyzstan last month on a backcountry snowboarding expedition. Why? Because.  

I’ve been back home now for a few weeks and am still decompressing, getting over the jet lag, and making sense of what I learned out there. I’ll write a longer post covering the trip soon.

In the meantime, I want to highlight a few things picked up along the way.

I tend to keep a notebook in my back pocket and a pen in the front so I can catch ideas when they strike. As such, I wrote down the following over the course of two weeks between Istanbul and Kyrgyzstan.

In no particular order: 

  1. Take your time when traveling if you can swing it. If you’re connecting through some place interesting, take the time to look around. I took 3 days to look around Istanbul on the way to Kyrgyzstan and I’m glad I did.
  2. My friends and I stick out like sore thumbs. We’ll need disguises if we don’t want to be immediately tagged as Americans in less friendly neighborhoods.
  3. Ninety-plus percent of people on the street in Istanbul are wearing black at any given moment.
  4. Humans are largely the same everywhere you go. There are different cultures and norms across geographies, but generally speaking, everyone is working to get by, get along, live peacefully, and take care of their kids. I saw countless instances of basic humanity in action and it was a good reminder.
  5. If you are physically and financially able to travel to faraway places you should do it. Seeing how other cultures operate is enlightening and helps you to view your own culture through a different lens.
  6. Physical fitness is the gift that keeps on giving. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.
  7. Lack of sleep makes you noticeably less intelligent. Get on top of your jet lag asap.
  8. When in faraway places, get weird. Eat the food, explore the areas other tourists don’t, meet the locals, and do what they do. Starbucks will be here when you get back. Live a little.
  9. Do not miss your international flight – especially in a foreign country. Apparently, it’s a real hassle.
  10. Yahtzee is a phenomenal travel game. Fan favorite and easy to travel with.
  11. Morning workouts are a great way to get over jet lag.
  12. The harder the goal, the more satisfying the achievement of it will be.
  13. Trying to speak the local language, however poorly, is a basic thing you can do to endear yourself to the locals.
  14. No matter where I’ve been on the planet and how much fun I’ve had I’m always glad to come home to the US.
  15. Kok Boru is the gnarliest sport you’ve never heard of.
  16. When things get hairy, you want to be surrounded by people who get noticeably calmer and more focused on what needs to happen to complete the mission.
  17. Human beings are capable of much more than we generally think we are.
  18. Central Asian yurts are cool. They’re also similar to Native American wigwams. Coincidence?
  19. Knowing the basics of medical triage is a good thing if you’re going into the backcountry.
  20. Positive mental attitude is the most important thing to bring with you wherever you go. Wallet, phone, keys, PMA? GTG.