" Kyrgyzstan has been called "the Switzerland of central Asia" because of its unspoilt mountainous terrain that shares borders with Kazakh-stan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.But beyond a preponderance of snowy peaks, including the forbidding Tian Shen mountains that separate the country from China to the east and loom over Temir Kanat, the legendary land of the 40 tribes of the Kyrgyz bears little resemblance to its European alpine counterpart.
Mournfully, he said: "It used to be that the skills of shepherding, hunting and riding were passed on from grandfather to grandson.
What child will now spend 40 years in the same place to care for a hunting eagle?
But between 20, about 800,000 Kyrgyz men, and increasingly women, scratched together the $100 to $500 required to make the journey from Kyrgyzstan's agricultural hinterland to work in often wretched conditions on building sites, tobacco farms and sweatshops from St Petersburg to Siberia.
With up to 90 per cent of migrants working illegally in their host country, the true figure could be higher.
For generations, life in Temir Kanat has stood still.