Intro to Kyrgyzstan

Here we go again. Starting the new year off with another journey, this time with Kaisa. After years of travelling I wanted to start a blog that would allow people to follow my journey and share my experiences along the way.

Kaisa and I are both leaving northern Finland to embark on a journey that will first lead us to Kyrgyzstan. To give a bit of a background, we are visiting a friend, Saku. Saku and I met three and a half years ago at Tim Hortons in Prince George, Canada. A mutual friend, Geoff, recommended that we meet because we both have a passion for ice hockey. Saku is trying to develop the game in Kyrgyzstan and primarily in remote village of Naryn. As for myself, I have done community building and capacity building in cities and villages across the north, including: Finland, Russia, and China by using hockey. Therefore, we share a similar vision for ice hockey.

About a year after that meeting, Saku sent me and email asking me to come to Bishkek with two friends in order to play in the nationals for the Kyrgyzstan league. We would play for the Naryn team with the purpose of winning the tournament and showing that Naryn can play against the larger and more funded teams in Bishkek. After a rough tournament with corrupt refereeing that I have never seen anywhere else in my life, we came in second out of six teams. It was disappointing to come all that way for second place but I believe it helped build the foundation for future hockey development.

This now brings us to the present where Kaisa and I are now going to visit Saku and his family for two weeks. During this time, we will hopefully get to explore more of Bishkek and perhaps go to Naryn, where I will be coaching and spending time with the team there. Kyrgyzstan is very popular for foreigners wanting to hike, climb, and do mountaineering. The mountains here remind me of back home, especially in Vancouver where they surround the city and are easily accessible. Moreover, the people are friendly, always offering food and tea. I look forward to my next two weeks there!

Shaun

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Saku, Andrew, Janne and I
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Goalie from Naryn
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The younger Naryn team

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