In October the Kyrgyz guides Maksat Aitkulov and Adilet Muratov came to Europe for a study trip. After a long preparation with a lot of paperwork, the boys finally managed to get a Schengen visa. They first had to travel to Lithuania and then on to the Netherlands.
Immediately after arrival, Peter took them on a road trip through Europe. In the Ryce Travel camper van they went to visit partners in Austria, Italy and Switzerland. In Vorarlberg they have seen the ski villages Lech, St. Anton and Stuben. In the Zillertal they have been to Kaltenbach, Mayrhofen, Gerlos and Königsleiten. It was a different world for Maksat and Adilet to see how commercially the ski resorts in Austria are. State-of-the-art gondolas, snow cannons and luxury wooden accommodations. They don’t see anything like that in Kyrgyzstan.
After an overnight stay in Zell am See, the journey continued to Saalbach Hinterglemm, Kitzbuhel and Kirchberg. In Kitzbuhel they have visited our partner Winkler Sporthütte. They have been sponsoring us for years with old ski equipment. They have met Leo Fuchs in Itter. He is the owner of Fuchs Skiverleih but Leo is also on the board of the Wilder Kaiser Brixental ski area. For the ski resort he had a tow lift for sale. Including toboggan tubes and other infrastructure. This was offered to us and next month the equipment will arrive in Kyrgyzstan (read more)
After the Austrian Alps they drove on to South Tyrol. The drive through the Dolomites was fantastic and of course a visit to Venice could not be missed. After strolling through the narrow streets for a few hours, the boys were tired of all the impressions. Just continue to Lake Garda then.
We drove to Switzerland via Lake Como and Lake Lugano. Here we had a tour in the ski area of Crans Montana. Together with former participants of the Kyrgyzstan trip we enjoyed an extensive cheese fondue. Experiencing an all-season destination like Crans Montana has made a big impression on Maksat and Adilet. There are so many options in their home country, but they are not always used. Of course it remains difficult because the visitor numbers cannot be compared.
More than 200 million people probably live in a 1000 kilometer radius around Switzerland. 10 million people no longer live in a 1000 kilometer radius around Karakol. Where the border with China is inaccessible. Moreover, the inhabitants have a lot less to spend. Nevertheless, it is good to look at the options that are available in Switzerland. Why would the Kyrgyz reinvent the wheel? They can learn from the good (and bad) things of the Alps.
The return trip to the Netherlands was via Stuttgart in southern Germany. They have the bright idea of buying a Pistenbully. This allows local boys to set up a cat ski company in Kyrgyzstan. A local investor has already indicated that they are interested in bringing such a Pistenbully to Kyrgyzstan. They asked us to look into the possibilities in Europe.
Peter, Maksat and Adilet encountered a site of more than 60 Pistenbully’s. (In this post you can read more about the Pistenbully project). With a stop at the Kyrgyz community in Cologne they drove back to the Netherlands.
We have visited with many partners and friends. Of course a visit to Amsterdam, Leeuwarden, Hoogeveen, Rotterdam, Utrecht and the Afsluitdijk could not be missed. We have seen polders, greenhouses, windmills and dikes. We ate cheese, stroopwafels and kale. In short, we have experienced most of highlights of the Netherlands.