Snooker with Kazakhs
When intrepid travel photographer David Baxendale visited a remote tribe of nomads in the Altai Mountains, he made a remarkable discovery…
Glasgow-based David was in the far west of Mongolia in early July on a photography expedition. During the trip he travelled to a valley close to the Chinese border that had never previously been visited by foreigners.
David said: “We decided to visit Kazakh Horsemen who live in the Upper Deyan Valley, which is a very remote area. No outsiders had been there before, according to our local fixer. After a three day drive from Ulgii, we eventually entered the valley and met the nomadic Kazakhs who live there.
“Among a small group of three Gers (Mongolian Yurts) I stumbled upon a full size, slate bed snooker table complete with balls, cues and a triangle! In such a remote community, cut off from the outside world with no telephone, electricity, running water or sewerage system, this was a most unexpected find.
“Some translation by our Kazakh fixer, Agii, revealed that the grandfather of one the nomads had appeared with it many years ago, and it had stayed with the group ever since. It is moved on the back of a truck when they move from winter to summer camp, while the family migrate on horseback with camels to haul their Gers.
“I played a few frames with the Kazakhs, using the ancient tip-less cues. The table ran remarkably well considering its location, albeit with a slight pull to the left. Whether I won the match was unclear as we were playing by different rules, but the memory of playing snooker at 6,500 feet, surrounded by yaks and wild horses, was unforgettable. The actual rules and scoring system of snooker were passed on to the Kazakhs, but they seemed to be scratching their heads a little. Maybe that got lost in translation, but we tried our best.”
More photographs from David Baxendale can be found on his website: www.davidbaxendale.com