Where to start on a journey that’s taken us across some of Kazakhstan’s more remote and beautiful places over the past eight days and through the back door into Kyrgyzstan, where we sit now on the edge of one of the world’s largest alpine lakes. How about with the sound of two hundred hoofs thundering on the ground around us as a troop of at least fifty horses, their glossy coats gleaming in the afternoon sunshine, raced past us in a high mountain pasture?
Or maybe we should begin with thunder of another kind; thunder and lightening that chased us over bumpy dirt roads into Kyrgyzstan where we dashed for shelter under the eaves of a farmhouse. As the rain poured down from the heavens, over the edge of the roof and into our shoes, we found a local teenager standing next to us, eyeing us up with surprise and a smile. Apparently they don’t get many tourists in his tiny village.
Then there was the lady who insisted we come in for tea when we arrived in her shop to buy some food. “Chai, chai,” she said, beckoning us over with a wave. Out came two cups of tea accompanied by bread, sausage, cookies and candies on the small and rickety table in her crowded kitchen, which served doubly as her bedroom.
We were ushered in for tea as well in the farming town of Zhalanash. Our early morning arrival meant the shops weren’t yet open. As we waited, a man with dancing eyes smiled and pulled us into his home where a second breakfast of homemade pastries, bread and butter magically appeared before us.
These beautiful experiences made a nice change from a part of the world that, to be honest, was starting to leave us feeling slightly annoyed. We’re fast coming up for two years on our bikes and so far we’ve never met so many sour-faced people as in Kazakhstan, our waves and smiles from the saddle gathering only blank stares in reply. Shopkeepers tended to be particularly icy and we took to buying our food in the market from the first stall owner who smiled at us. Even people who approached us, shepherds who trotted up on their horses and cars that pulled up alongside as we rode, often barely managed to mutter a reply to our greeting.
Getting off the beaten track seemed the key to finding a better side of Kazakhstan and we weren’t wrong in our assumption. From the time we left Taldykorgan, the roads were so quiet we had them almost to ourselves; exactly what we needed after being literally pushed forward by an SUV in downtown Taldykorgan. The man behind the wheel wanted to wait for the green light beyond the stop line and the pedestrian crosswalk and decided the best way to do this was to push his bumper up against our panniers before stepping on the gas.
Our stress melted away as we left the city and slogged over a seemingly endless series of steep hills to find camping by fresh mountain streams nearly every night, set against snowy peaks and green pastures. We still wouldn’t call the Kazakh people outgoing but the smiles certainly seemed to flow more freely as we pedalled into increasingly remote areas. The change of tone put us in such a good mood that we didn’t even care when Andrew’s back rack broke. Zip ties are holding it together until we can find a welder.
Maybe it was our choice of route that kept the farmers grinning. We entered Kazakhstan on the best roads we’d seen for some time but our last days in the country took us into very rural areas where the smooth asphalt quickly turned to bone-rattling dirt and stone-covered tracks. Bump, bump, bump went the panniers, the bikes and our bodies. Sometimes the roads were so bad we gave up riding and pushed, both downhill and uphill. We rejoiced when we reached the main road into Kyrgyzstan and found it was paved but shortly after we crossed the remote checkpoint our little slice of heaven ended. Bump, bump, bump we went again, all the way into Karakol, some 100km down the road.
That last stretch was one of our hardest rides yet. We fought winds in every direction, thunder and lightening, pouring rain, hail and roads that sometimes deteriorated into a steep, slippery mud track. We had no food left to speak of, aside from a few cookies and a bottle of soy sauce, and no gas to cook food on anyway. We were also devoid of any Kyrgyz money that would have allowed us to stop at a store or cafe.
When we finally reached the last few kilometers into Karakol on real asphalt we found hordes of hyperactive teenagers, fresh from their high school graduation, in our path and they all wanted to shake our panniers as we passed. We played leapfrog with a tractor, whose young driver liked to ride alongside us and honk the horn constantly. Dusk was falling as we approached the city, found our hotel, revelled in a lukewarm shower and borrowed some money from a fellow traveller so we could buy supper. We were exhausted. A few days of rest in Karakol is definitely on the cards and then we’ve a whole new country to explore.
25th May 2008 at 9:36 pm #
Wow – your strength, courage and sense of fun is truly inspiring. I hope my kids grow up to do half as much as you have.
26th May 2008 at 6:33 am #
Hi Freedel & Andrew
I hope the people will be more friendly in Kyrgyzstan than in Kazakhstan.
Enjoy your time.
1st June 2008 at 7:58 pm #
Aj aj aj, Australia would definitely be easier to handle. Good Luck and drive your way! We’ll see us hopefully next year.
3rd June 2008 at 10:40 am #
hi Friedel & Andrew
il faut apprecier votre grand voyage. pour moi, c’est tres difficile de penser sur votre voyage.
un voyage inoubliable and extraordinaire.
profitez votre tems & voyage
18th December 2009 at 4:59 pm #
A pal recommended me to check out this website, brill post, fanstatic read… keep up the nice work!
12th October 2022 at 9:11 pm #
I like reading through an article that will make people think. Also, thank you for allowing me to comment.
25th October 2022 at 12:51 pm #
28th October 2022 at 10:15 am #
I like reading through an article that will make men and women think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment.
2nd January 2023 at 12:18 am #
This unique blog is no doubt entertaining and also amusing. I have discovered a lot of handy advices out of this source. I ad love to visit it again and again. Thanks a lot!
4th January 2023 at 8:41 pm #
Thanks, I’ve just been searching for information about this subject for ages and yours is the best I have came upon so far. However, what concerning the conclusion? Are you sure about the supply?
28th March 2023 at 2:46 pm #
Im thankful for the blog post. Fantastic.
29th March 2023 at 5:41 am #
Normally, players could convert their cash to chips and vice versa. For one, if you make a poor play, or consider a poor beat, you don’t lose your seat. To determine your hand odds, you need to know initial how numerous outs your hand has.
2nd April 2023 at 7:54 pm #
Very well written article. It will be beneficial to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work – can’r wait to read more posts.
8th April 2023 at 3:03 am #
Im thankful for the blog post. Really Great.
12th April 2023 at 4:20 pm #
Bardzo interesujący temat, dziękuję za wysłanie wiadomości spirometr domowy.
17th April 2023 at 11:18 pm #
natural treatments for ed erectal disfunction – ed causes and treatment
22nd April 2023 at 12:09 am #
Nicely put. Regards!help with writing an essay dissertation research help in writing
23rd April 2023 at 11:25 pm #
willow run apartments rentberry scam ico 30m$ raised apartments for rent in allentown pa
25th April 2023 at 9:27 am #
I cannot thank you enough for the article. Fantastic.
28th April 2023 at 8:42 am #
Thank you, I’ve just been searching for information about this subject for ages and yours is the best I have discovered till now. But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?.มด21/9
28th April 2023 at 7:23 pm #
46247 95838Slide small cooking pot in the cable to make it easier for you to link the other big wooden bead for the conclude with the cord. 490455
4th May 2023 at 3:51 pm #
CPD,ICF,UKCP AND BACP accredited qualified staff members
12th May 2023 at 12:31 pm #
I precisely had to appreciate you all over again. I do not know what I could possibly have taken care of in the absence of these solutions shared by you regarding such a theme. It previously was a very frustrating issue for me personally, but witnessing the specialised form you handled the issue made me to cry over joy. I will be thankful for your assistance and as well , hope that you really know what a great job you have been carrying out educating men and women through the use of your blog. I’m certain you haven’t met any of us.
12th May 2023 at 4:54 pm #
Im thankful for the blog post.
13th May 2023 at 8:03 pm #
I’m just writing to let you know what a useful discovery our child went through visiting yuor web blog. She noticed several issues, with the inclusion of how it is like to possess an excellent helping nature to get other individuals with no trouble learn about specific complicated subject areas. You actually exceeded our expected results. Thank you for giving these great, dependable, educational and even cool thoughts on this topic to Gloria.
16th May 2023 at 12:05 pm #
ivermectin stock market how long for oral ivermectin to kill lice
19th May 2023 at 2:23 am #
I must show some thanks to you just for rescuing me from this particular challenge. After browsing through the search engines and coming across suggestions which are not productive, I was thinking my life was well over. Being alive devoid of the solutions to the issues you’ve fixed as a result of your main site is a critical case, as well as the kind which may have negatively damaged my career if I had not come across your blog. Your primary mastery and kindness in maneuvering all the details was very helpful. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had not discovered such a solution like this. I’m able to at this time look forward to my future. Thanks a lot very much for your reliable and effective guide. I will not be reluctant to recommend your blog to any individual who should have guidance on this topic.
23rd May 2023 at 11:08 am #
Р°СЂС…РёРІРЅС‹Рµ СѓСЃР»СѓРіРё РІ РјРѕСЃРєРІРµ РїРµСЂРµРґР°С‡Р° РґРѕРєСѓРјРµРЅС‚РѕРІ РЅР° Р°СЂС…РёРІРЅРѕРµ С…СЂР°РЅРµРЅРёРµ
27th May 2023 at 8:23 am #
Thanks so much for the article. Want more.
31st May 2023 at 7:29 pm #
I would like to voice my affection for your kind-heartedness giving support to those individuals that need help on this one topic. Your real dedication to passing the solution all through had become amazingly useful and have in most cases made individuals much like me to achieve their pursuits. Your own helpful hints and tips denotes a great deal a person like me and especially to my peers. Warm regards; from everyone of us.
1st June 2023 at 8:24 pm #
I must voice my admiration for your kind-heartedness in support of all those that really want help on that question. Your real commitment to getting the solution all over became wonderfully useful and have all the time empowered workers just like me to attain their dreams. Your amazing interesting guide can mean much to me and far more to my colleagues. Many thanks; from each one of us.
3rd June 2023 at 11:45 pm #
I simply wished to thank you very much once again. I’m not certain the things I would’ve taken care of without the type of opinions contributed by you about such situation. This has been a real frightful problem for me personally, nevertheless taking note of the professional mode you processed it took me to leap over joy. I am thankful for your work and even believe you know what an amazing job you are undertaking educating people by way of your websites. I’m certain you have never encountered any of us.
5th June 2023 at 8:08 pm #
Awesome Les,Wishing you all the best on your exciting digitally infused exhibition.
5th June 2023 at 9:08 pm #
The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.