Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 209 (Kyrygzstan): Osh - Sary Tash (black day, bike damaged)

I had hoped to be in Sary Tash by mid-day, but that didn’t work out. Another traveler, Dean, and I headed to the taxi stand and were ultimately there for five hours before taking off. The place was craziness. No one wanted to go it seemed, but to be fair, people only start heading out when the car is full. But the weird thing was that there were people coming and going, all wanting to go to Sary Tash or beyond, but the cab drivers didn’t seem interested to pool them. It was a nerve-wracking experience. We could have taken off at 9 am it seemed, but didn’t until about 1 pm. So much for leaving Sary Tash today to get some mileage in and leave the place.

It wouldn’t have happened anyway … when we got to Sary Tash it was dark and it had snowed when we drove over the last pass. The ride itself was grueling, 4 peope on the back bench - the usual thing here - and so the fun was somewhat limited.

As we were heading to Sary Tash I was looking forward to heading out the following day. Little did I know what would happen over the next hour. Dean and I went to the guesthouse where I had left the bike, a Korean tourist group being there. I wanted to check what was going on with the bike, just to make sure. I asked about the key for the room that we had left the bike in and was told that the son had the key, he would be right back. Fair enough, I thought. Then, when coming back from the toilet, I saw my bike standing outside, thinking: “What is my bike doing here?” Unsure about things, I checked the bike out and found it damaged. Nothing major - the fender mounting was broken. A nuisance maybe, but I left the bike in the owner’s care. Then I had a look at the bike computer and found that there was a lot more kms on it than when I had left it, to be exact 145km more. Ouch … I was not a happy person.

Things became ugly then. I confronted the son - he said that he didn’t know anything. Why was my bike in a different place? The father said that he should put it closer to the house. Not a good answer, things had been locked up before. Everything was fishy … I checked my bags and found that some things had been taken out. The pot bag was missing, including some other items. More confronting … no one seemed to know anything. He pretended as much at least. It was all frustrating and any trust that I had had was violated. The damage didn’t seem substantial, but the fact that the bike had been ridden really riled me.

One of the Koreans confirmed that he had seen the son riding the bike. The guy was about 20 and vile. Things got ugly then … he kept demanding money from me, claiming that I hadn’t paid up when I stayed the first night. I had. Then he wanted money for keeping the bicycle, which really annoyed me. He kept pushing a piece of paper under my face while I was going through my stuff to check whether anything else was missing. For some reason, I didn’t blow off steam at this point. There wasn’t any point. For a short time, I felt anger rising inside … thinking back about it (geeky me), Star Wars comes to mind.

“Are you going to stay here for the night?” - the answer was clearly no. And I was in no mood to pay anything for leaving the bike. My hunch was that the bike was rented out ultimately. The whole time, the guy was nonchalant and cavalier, with a big grin on his face. His sister just backed him, accusing me of not wanting to pay for the time the bike was in their “care”. I was about to leave when the guy locked me in, saying that he demanded $50, otherwise he wouldn’t let me go. I couldn’t believe the chuzpa.

I made as if I called friends to get the police and all of a sudden the door was open. I left rather despondent, figuring that there was more wrong with the bike than I could see at first glance and someone waving a piece of paper into my face.

Here is part of the damage - the only one that I saw that night.

1 comment

1 Kaija { 10.23.08 at 7:57 pm }

WOW! You made it to China!! Congratulations, Markus and keep up the spririt. You can be so proud of yourself!
Take care, Kaija

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