Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Cycling through Clouds in Central Asia: Seeing Greenery Again; Today: 75 km; Total: 1318 km

May 26, 2014

I woke up at 6 am in no-man's land. We had nothing to eat for breakfast, no bread or water, so we packed up and left. One km after where we had camped, we saw the Kyrgyz border control. Had we known the border control was so close, we would have crossed the border last night.

Passing through the border guards and officials was easy. They didn't notice our one-day stay without a visa. In half hour, we were officially in Kyrgyzstan. As always, it is very exciting to enter a new country.  

The road was very bad for 15 km--big gravels, but soon, we were riding on smooth asphalt for 25 km to get to Sary Tash, the first village after the border. We had breakfast in a "cafe": some tea, a fried egg, and bread and butter.  We then bought some veggies for dinner.

We started a very steep road from 3200 meters to 3600 meters and then we went down 150 meters and up again, but after that, we had downhill to 2700 meters.

It was very surprising to see such a huge difference between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. For example, the border crossing on Tajik side was such a miserable place. The poor officers did not have the slightest facilities in their site. However, on the Kyrgyz side, the site had buildings, computers, electricity, etc. On the Kyrgyz side, the people were much better off than the Tajik. This was obvious by the houses they lived in, the cars they were driving, and the number of herds they were keeping. What is more, the Tajik land was much greener.

We enjoyed our ride on meandering good roads, and for the first time on this trip, I could go fast with my bike not worrying about bumps and pot holes. My maximum speed reached 68 although I was braking sometimes to control the coast down. We went through beautiful pastures full of horses and cows. People seemed very friendly too.

At about 4 o'clock, we met a couple who were cycling from Mongolia. They had a lot of information about our route ahead. We talked for half an hour. Then, the rain started, so we had to depart.

We continued for about 20 minutes in the rain looking for a place to camp. There was a very serious looking old woman in front of a beautiful garden. Radu, who knows a little bit of Russian, asked the woman if we could camp in the garden. She opened the gate for us! So unexpected from such a serious-looking woman!

The rain had stopped so we started to pitch up our tent as quickly as possible because it was not fun to do it in the rain at all. After 15 minutes, when our tents were up, the old woman, with the same seriousness in her attitude, brought us a big thermos of tea and a loaf of fresh, home-made bread. How hospitable! But in her look and her behaviour, you could not see any kindness--no smile or anything.

In an hour or so, the garden became full of people, all relatives I guess, and they started to play some kind of game with a soccer ball. There were about 50 of them, all ages. It was very interesting to see with how little, they had so much fun! They played games until dark when the rain started again. It reminded me of the only day of the year when Iranian people do something like this: the thirteenth day of Nowruz. Why shouldn't we learn from these people? I wish we could, especially in such day and age when digital life and cyber world is taking over most our face-to-face encounters. None of the people in the garden had their head down on their cell phones or iPods; instead, they were playing games and enjoying the moment enriched with each others presence.  

In two days, we will be in Osh where Fausto and I have to decide what to do for the rest of our trip. Where are we going after Kyrgyzstan? Are we still going to China. What about the visas for Mongolia and other places. 

Tea with fresh home-made bread

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