They don’t grow rice in Kyrgyzstan as far as we can tell. But this past weekend Mark and I visited a couple who now live in a Dungan village called Rice Valley. Dungan are related to the Hui people in China. Most of them moved out here from China more than 100 years ago during the Qing Dynasty. Many of them have settled in Kazahkstan as well as Kyrgyzstan. They have maintained much of their culture and language. They speak a kind of Chinese dialect that I can understand about 20-50 percent. Because they left China a long time ago, their Chinese language has stopped evolving, however. So I hear words that might have been used in China like 100 years ago.
Since we arrived in Kyrgyzstan we had not had opportunities to go out of Tokmok much and to visit other parts of the country. We were very much delighted with the chance to meet this couple and to experience what life is like in the village. I enjoyed the quietness and slow pace in the village. Mark enjoyed walking through streets covered with animal manure, passing by sheep and cows wandering on the side of the streets, and witnessing a cowboy on his horse chasing after his herd of cows and sheep. We were also treated with great American home cooking during our stay.
Our friends in Rice Valley are some of the many people in this part of the world working with the Dungan. You may have never heard of the Dungan people before. Perhaps now you could remember the Dungan and people like our friends in Rice Valley.