Arslanbob is a small village in the Western province, Jalal-Abad. Arslanbob's population are made up mostly of ethnic Uzbeks and as such the area is considered to be more conservative/religious than the rest of Kyrgyzstan. All of the women don headscarves and most of the men wear traditional Uzbek hats. It is most famous for its vast and beautiful walnut forest, so big it is actually the biggest walnut grove on earth, something the locals rightly so are very proud of. Harvest time is October-November and luckily we arrived slap bang in the middle of it. Many families spend the autumn months within the deep forest, in makeshift tents or yurts searching through leaves for walnuts as they fall to the floor. It is usually the job of the women and children to collect the harvest, whilst the men spend this time as respite from the rest of the year and keeping in charge of livestock.
The golds, reds and greens glitter in the evening as the low sun shoots rays of light through their branches. We took in the forest at this time and it was truly a spectacle. As we passed kids on donkeys and women with bags of walnuts on their backs, we met a man and his baby. He ushered to us to follow him and we soon found ourselves sat outside his family's tent enjoying a cup of chai. The conversation was made up mostly of sign language and pigeon Russian as none of us really spoke it, but it was pleasant and beautiful. Desperate to try a walnut we gestured to one on the floor and asked if he could open it. He then showed us how to open a walnut with another walnut using just his hands and obviously we were impressed. We spent the rest of our time in Arslanbob trying to recreate this method. Needless to say we couldn't and after a while a friendly Uzbek girl ran over with a nut cracker trying not to laugh.