Deep in the mountains of eastern Kyrgyzstan, close to the border with China, lies Engilchek (Inylcheck), a former industrial mining town that was once part of the Soviet Union. Nearly 30 years after the breakup of the socialist state, the town remains, with empty factories and a selection of forgotten buildings. Photographer Thijs Broekkamp travelled there as part of a project on Central Asia, documenting all that was left behind.
“I got the feeling that people just dropped everything and left in an instant. Notebooks, payslips, newspapers and worker’s hats were lying around. Even plates and cutlery and cooking utensils in one of the construction shacks were still on the table and in the cupboards, as if any moment somebody could walk in and make a cup of coffee. I could just imagine the workers having a break in the room, when somebody walks in and announces the Soviet Union has ceased to exist,” Thijs told Lonely Planet Travel News.
The shoot was part of a wider project focused on Central Asia, which saw Thijs visiting countries that included Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. With a special interest in locations that were central to the former Soviet Union, he also visited the town of Ming Kush in the west of Kyrgyzstan, one of the largest uranium producers during its existence.