A visit from our Kazak Cowboy at sunset

We had set up camp in the middle of a field somewhere as the sun was setting during the Kazakhstan leg of the Mongol Rally. After pulling off the highway, we followed some tracks to the top of a hill where we started to pitch our tents. In the distance we saw a horse and rider running in the fields.

He disappeared, but a while later we saw him atop a ridge behind us. He stood there awhile contemplating and examining us from a distance. In a few minutes he started his approach.

With dog following behind, he came upon our camp and waved hello. He was a young man with kind eyes. We couldn’t communicate, but he was content to watch us prepare our accommodation for the night.

Rick took notice of something that he was carrying and made the mistake of showing interest. As with the custom of so many cultures, when a person shows interest in something, it is in their nature to offer it up as a gift. He could not refuse and accepted.

I made sure to give him something in return and gave him a Track24 Solo golf shirt. They had given us a few in London and they have come in handy as bartering options. He gladly accepted.

I noticed him smoking and wanted to give him something of value so I also gave him a pack of wooden matches that we had bought in Russia. These he seemed very happy to accept.

As we became more comfortable, he told us his name, Beket.

Beket was curious and surprised to see us but happy to watch. With a headless jackrabbit hanging off of his saddle, we asked him (in the language of mime) how he caught it. He pointed to his dog and we thought to ourselves, that’s one tough dog.

As usual, Dave made fast friends with him and took his photograph. We got his address and will send him a copy of the picture and pray that it makes it there. We gave him our card with hopes that one day he will have email, but for now we will both always have the memory of that moment in time when we met in the middle of the field in Northern Kazakhstan.

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Leave a comment


  1. Johnny Bravo

    Fantastic photo & a brilliant story.
    Hope you’re enjoying the rally.
    Entered for 2012, really enjoying following this year’s rally & cannot wait for July 2012!

    Have fun.

  2. Thristhan

    Wow, I really love your photography skills. Wonder whether you edit any of the photos using graphic tools or are they straight from the camera?

  3. Simon Lee

    i visited kazakhstan last year on business, this is really a good country and hope to visit them again early next year on personal trip:)


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    1. davendeb

      Thanks Pete. We hope he gets the photograph as well. As soon as we get home we’re sending it. We had hoped to send it from within Kazakhstan but we had a hard time finding anything there and we moved through really fast because we had Visa deadlines with Russia and Mongolia. . Fingers crossed.

    1. davendeb

      That is strange that your dad has spent a lot of time here. Has he come for work? It is such a rapidly developing country. Wait until you see the photos from Astana, it is out of this world and so modern. Quite the contrast from the rest of the country.

  5. Vera Marie Badertscher

    Could be Montana, couldn’t it? Very curious about Kazakhstan. Met some women from there who were visiting Tucson and read and reviewed a terrific book about it at A Traveler’s Library. The book is Apples Are From Kazakhstan.

    1. davendeb

      That is what Sherry was saying a lot, it totally reminded her of the midwest. I will check out the book, thanks for the recommendation.

    1. davendeb

      Hey Raymond, we were totally tempted to. We had a pot of rice boiling for our rice, he could have popped it right in!

  6. Don Faust

    Wow – great shot, Dave! Most might be tempted to use a low flash setting on the subject, but I like the low light mysterious silhouette. Did you burn the edges a little bit in the post-processing?… it’s possible the intensity of the set sun created the natural vignette look – pretty cool.

    1. davendeb

      Hi Don, Dave didn’t bring his flash on this trip as we were very short on space and some things didn’t make the cut, so he couldn’t be tempted:-) It was such a quick moment to capture the shot that he never would have had the time to dig it out anyway. :-)Yes, he did burn the edges a bit. Thanks for taking the time to study it. Much appreciated.

    1. davendeb

      Hi Don. That is amazing that your Nephew is from Kazakhstan. The people we met there were so kind and welcoming. The landscape is varied. We spent most of our time in the Desert area, but there are mountains as well. It was beautiful and we definitely want to go back and explore more.

  7. Lisa Wood

    Gosh what an amazing story! How incredible that you guys were not able to talk but still able to communicate :) Love that the farmer found you, and that he was kind! Thanks for sharing his photo.


  8. Natalie T.

    Amazing shot! When I first looked at it, I didn’t notice the rabbit but it’s quite shocking to see it and even more interesting, that it’s just another day for this cowboy. Hope you’re having the time of your lives!

    1. davendeb

      It’s true, he’s just getting dinner for the night. Kazakhstan was truly amazing and I look forward to coming back to take our time and explore the country.

    1. davendeb

      Isn’t that the truth. Farming is a difficult job and for him we think very solitary. he is out in the fields with his cows, dog and horse all day.

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  14. Alex

    This is a great picture, I love it. It really makes me feel like I’m there. My favorite part is the dog in the background – he looks like he’s alert for his next prey!

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