03-04 June – Kyrgyzstan – ~414 miles
Kyrgyzstan has a lot to live up to after the near-constant-awesome of Tajikistan… but it’s giving that challenge “a red-hot go”.
It’s a very different landscape/scenery – but still very cool. Tajikistan – was a lot of LARGE but barren surroundings. Kyrgyzstan, so far, is much more green, and without the sheer scale – but still some cool ranges, rivers, ravines/gorges, etc.
From Osh – it was a full day riding to the middle of nowhere (a beautiful scenic nowhere) – to stay the night in Oson – not sure if that’s even a place name, or just the name of the hotel/motel. The riding was a mixed bag… initially just getting used to having actual traffic to contend with (and dodge, with any modern car being driven by a crazed lunatic – sometimes overtaking cars which themselves are overtaking… with oncoming traffic. Great fun).
Then – as we got further into “nowhere” – the traffic dwindled, and the scenery, terrain, and therefore riding – became much more enjoyable. The last couple of hours were pretty much just riding lovely twisty roads, around a lake, alongside a river, through ravines… to arrive at our accommodation on the very bank of a river. Drinks were had, celebrating the first night in some time where the altitude wasn’t too high for significant libations.
Today – riding from Oson to the capital city of Kyrgyzstan (which, as everybody knows, is Bishkek) – was another day of two halves, but much shorter.
The morning – continued in the vein of the previous afternoon – lovely twisty roads, great landscapes, through a tunnel we’d been warned was a local version of “the Tunnel of DEATH!!!” – but turned out to be “the Tunnel of Mild Discomfort”… with much better lighting than expected, over a couple of reasonably high-altitude passes, passing by lots of yurt-clusters;
before joining the main highway into the capital, which quickly became a solid stream of traffic, with occasional chances to “filter” past other vehicles.
Assorted other points:
- Today I drank some fermented horse milk offered by the service station crew (with a smirk on their face, daring the foreigners to try it). It wasn’t bad… although after the first couple of sips – I spent quite some time trying to insist that they promise me it didn’t have any whisky in it, and that there was no alcohol involved.
- Met a group of 4 kiwis riding the other way, on dirt bikes – just doing a bit of Central Asia on rentals
- It turns out that if you want to reduce speeding – a great combination is a slightly corrupt police force, and speed radars. At least 4 riders got pulled over for speeding yesterday, and paid “fines” which went straight into the officers’ pockets – no paperwork involved. Another talked his way out of it pretending not to understand anything. I got pulled over, and was super polite… shaking hands, immediately got in that I was from New Zealand – not some dirty English or American yobbo – and somehow got away with just a warning that I shouldn’t have been overtaking where I did. I rather suspect they had a photo of me speeding – but with other vehicles in the same photo, so wouldn’t be able to prove it was me if pushed.
- After a little too-boisterous play with a large German-Shepherd about a week ago – I (ie: the dog) may have hurt something in my hand. It feels fine most of the time, but after a few hours of riding-vibration, it’s feeling rather sore. I’m hoping some ice-packs in the evening, and 2 days’ rest in Almaty should see it right
- And – got given a gift by some locals… a car I was following for some time, slowed down, signalled for me to overtake – then tried to pass me a little rolled up Kyrzyg flag as we were both moving… after a couple of rather dangerous attempts at this – success.