Kazachstan on our way to Kyrgyzstan

This is our first time ever in Central Asia, our first time ever cycling in a (former) Russian country and arriving at the airport and being dropped right in the middle of a new culture is always a bit overwhelming.

I’ve never seen police men wearing such huge hats! They’re enormous! We smile and continue our way to get our luggage. In the arriving hall we assemble our bicycles and start cycling into Almaty or Alma’ata. Hurree for the GPS, makes these rides into large towns a lot easier. We look around and take in all the new culture things; people selling lots of veggies and fruits on the street, the strawberries smell great! We see new cars and every now and then an ond Lada. No cyclists though. People look Asian to us, but modernly dressed and all carrying mobile phones. The streets are broad, we see expensive clothing brands: Gucci, Moschino, D&G. And the food: meat, meat and meat. Russian signs, Russion menus, da, njet… we don’t have a clue! But, he, Central Asia, here we come!

Endless roads

A slow climb and busy road lead us away from Almaty on route to Chilik. With smelly exhaust from the cars and dogs chasing us for about 40 kilometers, then it turns quiet. No more gas stations, no more restaurants but nothing more than a dry, barren landscape. The trees by the side of the road keep us cool, since it’s 32 degrees Celsius. We find ourselves a watermelon from a shop by the road, I think we drank more than 3 liters each, but still we’re thirsty. We pass Chilik and continue through mountenous region towards the Sharyn Canyon. Here we ran into Laura, living in a yurt. We ask her of we can camp next to her yurt, but she invites us to stay inside. That evening we communicate making drawings on a piece of paper and Laura gives us Kumys.. yep, horse milk! Yikes! Very sour! For dinner we eat goat, goat soup, goat-something… well, something with goat! We flush the goat down with gassy water.., that’s all they sell here! Tastes funny in our water bottles!

The next day we continue towards Kegen, here we look around for a hotel and we finally find the only basic lodging in town. It’s nothing more than 4 walls and a roof.. I ask where the toilet is, and the guy points to the street! He’s asking too much money for it too! So, we decide to continue cycling into the open field and find a spot to camp out of sight. Two drunk men make us continue a couple kilometers more and we wait until darkness sets in, before we pitch the tent. Feels a bit safer…

The unpaved road crosses green fields and we pass a clear stream before we reacht the border in the middle of nowhere. Formalities are quick and we are cycling in Kyrgyzstan! It’s still hot and we sweat our asses of in those lycra pants. I guess a shower is no luxury, but we have to wait one more day. Dust is caking on our sweaty bodies and we find ourselves camping one more night in a field not far from the road. Dark clouds are covering the mountains in the distance and we fall asleep with the noise of thunder and rain ticking on our tent. One more day and we cycle into Karakol where we finally find our shower at Turkestan Yurt Camp! It’s shashlick time! And baby-powder for our poor little asses…

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