18. Travel Report: Kyrgyzstan 23.8. – 17.9.2008

Osh – Karakol – Bishkek

After passing the border we got pampered with 20 km of asphalt and expected it to be like this further on too, only to find out, that for another 200 km rocking and shaking and disappearing in the dust each time a truck passes us was the reality. On one of the passes lies a truck about 200 m deep down in the valley, totally wrecked, and the locals collect the Chinese trumpery.

The valleys here in Kyrgyzstan are greener and many mountains very colorful. When we finally reach the city of Osh after a rather hard time full of privations, we feel like entering cockaigne; plentiful fruits and vegetable to buy and restaurants at each corner.

We decide to take the main road to Bishkek, because we were fed up with corrugated, dusty and stony gravel roads. And how great this felt, to roll on nice tarmac – the joy of riding a bike was back immediately.

One evening – while I rest in the shade of the tent – Pius wants to cook coffee. Suddenly the steppe around us is ablaze. Pius was for one second careless and the fire of the cooker ignited within seconds the drouthy grass of the steppe. The wind luckily blows up the hill, away from us and the tent. And on top of the hill there is a little bank which stops the fire, and on the sidelines we can kill it with our shoes. The only souvenirs we have from this incident are minor burns and a melted tent. Some time later, a car pulls up and the farmer and 1, 2…7 men et out of it with big sticks in their hands. Oh oh, wonders Pius what does this means? We explain what has happened. They look at the damage and let us know that this is no problem since we managed to get the fire under control – and they wish as a pleasant stay in Kyrgyzstan.

The fertile and irrigated Ferghana Valley with its cotton and corn crops is appealing. On the bazaar we buy Samsa and Manti s’Kartoschkoi (with potatoes), delicious.

One incident turned peaceloving Pius into a furious wrestler. A drunken Kyrgyz seems to mistake Pius’s bike with a donkey and jumps on the back of the bike. Both fell into the dust.

Pitching up the tent near a village made us next morning leave with a 5 kg melon in our stomach and two 5 kg melons in our luggage, together with some onions and a beautiful bunch of flowers.

Through valleys, over passes, along a enormous deep blue lake and clear mountain streams, we enjoy riding our bikes and then reach a stunning high valley surrounded by mountains. Many Kyrgyz spend the summer here in the yurts with their livestock. It’s a postcard view, the only thing I hated were the dogs shooting out of each yurt, chasing after us cyclists.

A fantastic drive on a serpentine road brings us to a 3500 m pass. When we nearly reached the top, it starts to snow. When descending, a freezing wind is blowing against us, making us shiver inspite of wearing gloves, fleece- and wind jackets.

In the capital Bishkek, we try once more our luck with a Chinese visa – without success. This is the reason for changing plans. Now the flight is booked to Bangkok. On the 17th of this month we will eat our first tasty Thai curry. After a hammock week in Koh Chang we will go on to Laos and then Vietnam to meet up end of October with Nicole and Beat. How great.


Yurt in Kyrgyzstan

Sales booth on the road

Salva farewell, farewell to Kyrgyzstan