Saturday, 27 December 2014

Cycling through Clouds in Central Asia: From near the Second Pass to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan; Not fun Riding into Bishkek; Today: 120 km; Total: 1924 km

June 6, 2014

In the morning, I woke up to pangs of hunger. Fausto was still asleep when I made some tea and had it with bread and concentrated milk. I was still feeling weak, but at least, I knew that we were going to take it easy for a day, and then ride easily to Bisgkek the next day.

We broke camp at 9 and after climbing for about three horse, we got to the pass where we had to go through a tunnel, in which 4 people had died a couple of years ago because of smog inhalation as a result of a car crash in the tunnel. The tunnel was 6 km long. Fausto had already gone through the tunnel. It was pitch black inside which made it very difficult to see the many big pot holes. With my lights on, I also passed through the tunnel without a hitch nervously. After the tunnel, it was all downhill for 45 km.

The strong head wind forced us to pedal even in downhill. After two hours or so, I needed a break, so I asked Fausto to stop, but he kept riding for another half hour, at which point, I got annoyed and stopped suddenly and rested under a tree by the river. I was still fighting the bug in my stomach, so I had to "go". The horse milk or contaminated water or whatever the bug was had no intention to leave my system. Inevitably, Fausto also stopped and had a little rest. l,  after an hour of resting, felt better, and we started again. The wind was not as strong anymore.

We were riding fast for about 40 km, we were doing 35-40 km/h nonstop, and I was cutting the wind. Soon we got to a point where we had to decide whether to go on into Bishkek or camp. We had 60 km to the city. Given the circumstances, we knew it was going to be difficult. It is always difficult to get into a big city. But it was 2 pm, and we thought we could make it if we didn't stop. What we didn't know was the fact that the drivers were the worst in this region. They wouldnt give any right to a cyclist, nothing. The road itself was full of potholes with no shoulder. Besides, it was rush hour. What else could push us to the edge? Hunger. So we stopped and had some lunch in a relatively good restaurant. I still didn't have my appetite back, but I forced myself to eat.

Fausto was also complaining about diarrhea. So, it was not the milk. It must have been the water.

The traffic got worse and worse as we got closer to the city. With no exaggeration, Bishkek drivers are the worst I have ever seen. We had so many close calls already!

I used the information on my GPS to lead me to a guesthouse. On my GPS, I had Silk Road Guesthouse, but when finally we got there, we saw a posh hotel at our destination with $125 a double room a night! That was too rich for our blood. We then looked for Saberbek Guesthouse which was recommended in Lonely Planet guide book. Riding 120 km in the wind, dealing with diarrhea, inconsiderate drivers, rough roads, and being mislead by GPS were enough to make us irritable.  

Fausto took the lead and found the Guesthouse after asking many people. The guesthouse didn't look like a guesthouse at all. It more looked like a construction site. There was no sign or anything. However, we rang one of the three bells, hopelessly. As we were about to look for another guesthouse, a young girl opened the door, and sure enough, it was Saberbek Guesthouse. Good or bad, cheap or expensive, we decided to stay there.

The guesthouse is a very old house. It is not equipped for being a hostel or homestay. The owner rents out the rooms to tourists. There is a kitchen we can use, but there usually are many people there. The owner's son with his family is visiting from the Netherlands, so, it is quite busy, but we are OK. 

The People Living in the Yurt

The Way Down


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