TASH RABAT, KYRGYZSTAN: When the Soviet Union collapsed, a collective farm near the Kyrgyz border with China was carved up. Some workers got goats, others yaks. Jyrgalbek’s father received a home attached to the collective farm in the carve up.
It would probably have been worth nothing were it not for the fact it lay some 200 meters from a 15th century caravanserai. With borders opened after the Soviet collapse, foreigners started to come visit the Caravanserai and pitch tents to sleep overnight.
The family noticed this and considered the potential to make money from tourism. Jyrgalbek, a mechanic who lost his town job after the Soviet collapse, took over the house in the mountains, moving his family there.
At first, he started by cooking food for the foreigners while attending to the livestock he owned in the area. Around 1997, he started to set up some yurts for the tourists to sleep in.
Nearly 20 years later, he and his daughter have about 20 yurts, which helps generate a good portion of their yearly earnings. The rest comes from selling livestock, such as horses, yaks and sheep at the Sunday market.