A 72-year-old resident of Zhanaarka village in the Ulytau region has captured the hearts of the entire nation by solo walking around Kazakhstan with nothing but a small cart with his belongings, Qazmonitor reports.
Sarsenbai Kotyrashov is a retired blacksmith who began his journey from his hometown on March 31 of this year.
Since then, Kotyrashov has been to Zhezkazgan, Kyzylorda, Shymkent, Taraz, Almaty, Taldykorgan, Semey, Pavlodar, Nur-Sultan and other smaller cities.
He arrived in Kostanay on August 1 where he was greeted by the sound of traditional music playing as officials, journalists, volunteers, and city residents stood waiting for a chance to talk to the charming guest-of-honor.
The traveler was in good spirit even after having covered a 4,000-km distance, generously posing for pictures and answering reporters’ questions.
“I reached [Kostanay] yesterday, on July 30th, and was welcomed with kindness and cheering! I was very touched. In regional capitals, I am always met with enthusiasm and gifts.”
Kotyrashov says that he walks about 40 km in a day and meets 300-500 people who stop him for pictures.
But the man does not seem bothered by all the attention, exuding the qualities of freedom and practicality that are necessary for an adventurer.
"I try to bathe under free showers - in the rain if I don't reach a populated area. Sometimes I have to spend the night out in the open,” Kotyrashov says.
His cart contains only the essentials: a tent and sleeping bag, toiletries, spare parts for the cart, a change of clothes, and food.
“In the case my shoes wear out, I have a spare. I've worn out six pairs already!”
People who cross paths with the traveler would often offer him a ride. But the elder refuses every single time. “My goal is to complete the route on foot – and I’m going to stick to it," Kotyrashov says.
“My journey has three aims: first, to tell people about the Ulytau region and its history. Secondly, to compile a list of craftsmen all across Kazakhstan; if I collect more than 1,000 names, UNESCO will open a website for them. With their help, we will be able to participate in world exhibitions abroad! And the third goal is to remind people of forgotten Kazakh holidays.”
After Kostanay, he intends to go to Aktobe, Uralsk and Atyrau. Kotyrashov’s final destination is Aktau.
“In general, I feel good, people support me. My family had a warm send-off for me and support me every step of the way."