The Naryn and Syr Darya bridges we have now are not spectacular. They are not celebrated like the San Francisco Golden Gate or other famous bridges. These roads over rivers are mostly treated like background infrastructure. And yet, a big fish monster is said to lurk under the main bridge in Naryn town. Right next to the road bridge, a foot-bridge has been cobbled together with boards and girders slung across the wild Naryn waters below. Ladies with bags of shopping pick their way across what local people call a ‘devil’s bridge’.
Bridges make people independent of the river, they assure a crossing. Bridges are so important that they are often named after the decision-maker or sponsor who initiated their building. Though bridges are also often damaged by high water and debris: people say the river ‘eats’ roads and land. How many failed crossings there were, how many lost souls and cattle and bags of corn, before a bridge was built?
This remote bridge across the river Ak Sai in Naryn province has been heavily damaged for several years: now locals are cut off from an important hot spring mazar (healing site).