An early morning excursion to Karakol Livestock Market. Every Sunday, several drab-looking blocks on Karakol's northern outskirts are transformed into a vibrant spectacle, alive with energy and colour. The livestock market (mal bazaar in Kyrgyz) attracts an array of thousands of smallholders and nomads from all over the Issyk-Kul region. Jammed tightly together amongst the animals, this huge, jostling swarm of people barter over sheep, pigs and cattle, scatter the crowds by 'test driving' powerful stallions and stock up on feed for their new purchases. By dawn, the market is already underway with groups of white bearded men in fur-trimmed caps bargaining animatedly, hawkers pushing through the crowds proclaiming their wares and women in bright headscarves patting and prodding ewes to assess their rump fat. This is an unmissable Kyrgyz cultural experience.
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