A villager in a remote part of Kyrgyzstan is offering rural shepherds the chance to rest their aching limbs with a scenic spa inside his van-cum-sauna. Ernist Ymanov re-designed his old wagon by adding a stove and water canister inside, and has found local herdsmen eager to give the machine a try. Jim Drury reports.
STORY: This van's best travelling days are behind it.....but now it's making its Kyrgyzstani owner a living as a mobile sauna. The wagon's been fitted with a stove and water canister, which he fills from the river. Inventor Ernist Ymanov says his travelling steamhouse is popular with nomadic shepherds, for both relaxation and keeping themselves clean. SOUNDBITE (Kyrgyz) ERNIST YMANOV, MOBILE-SAUNA INVENTOR AND OWNER, SAYING: "As soon as I arrived locals formed a queue because everyone wanted to wash in the sauna. I don't have enough time to accommodate everyone." It takes a matter of minutes to heat up the steamroom. Shepherd Aibek says he's happy to pay the one dollar fee to use it. SOUNDBITE (Kyrgyz) SHEPHERD AIBEK SAYING: "The arrival of the sauna was like a present for us. It's very comfortable, he remade everything inside the van. We thank Ernist for what he's done." Reports suggest that a third of Kyrgyzstanis live below the poverty line, but Ymanov sees room to expand his business. He's applied for a government loan to build two more sauna vans to service nearby rural valleys and says he's fired up and ready to go.