Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 210 (Kyrgyzstan): Sary Tash - Irkeshtam (white out before China)

daily distance: 54km (+20km on a truck)
total distance: 11,407km
riding time: 6h

Bad night really - couldn’t sleep too well in the other guesthouse, although the lady was really really sweet. And she was shocked by what had happened. I had made up a plan for the day … wanted to leave as soon as I could, but also wanted to see that things were in order before doing so. It had snowed during the night, the road was clear however. Nevertheless, riding was questionable.

I had decided to go back to the house once again to see whether I could get my stuff back. Turned out that the pots were not the only thing that was missing. My water bottles are gone too. Which is inconvenient if nothing else. But that didn’t yield any results. The guy just walked past me when I approached the place.

I then turned to the police. This was surreal to the extreme. I had thought that maybe with their help something would turn up. What a mistake. They were completely drunk at 9am on a Sunday. The commander was nothing but a shame on any institution. He kept saying that he wanted to help me but wouldn’t even let me explain things. After I got through to him we drove up to the house, horns blaring because he had had too much to drink. The girl was there and she simply accused me again of not having paid up. The police turned against me briefly. I told them what was missing, the girl saying: “Look around if you can find it.” She was as cold as ice. I had enough. Said goodbye and thank you, when the policeman grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. Eventually I got rid of him, walked away.

Back to the guesthouse I was staying that night … the lady there was a great, great help. Don’t ever go to the Sary Tash guesthouse when you are there, head to the Leda Hotel. That is all I can say. I tried buying some things … of course, there were no pots to be had anywhere. And without them it would be bad in this kind of temperature. I bought some rope which was no good, but the guesthouse people helped out again.

Then I meant to leave after fixing the bike up. Here is a list of things that are missing / damaged.

1. front rack - bent
2. water bottle holder - broken
3. gears - completely messed up
4. brakes - both completely messed up
5. chainring - protective plastic torn up
6. water bottles - stolen
7. pots - stolen
8. rope holding a bag in the rear - stolen

Ultimately, I was lucky I suppose - the damage could have been far worse. I took off at 1pm in the end, but right after taking off I encountered more problems with the gears under load. And it was starting to snow. I ploughed on … decided to take things out on the road and at myself. The road was bad, the snow was driving in from the side, but I made decent progress for some time. At some point it was no longer possible to ride. It was almost complete white-out. The surface became slippery to the point that you couldn’t even push the bike uphill any longer, loose rock all over the place. After 45km I had to give up and tried to stop a truck. None of the Chinese trucks would stop, but the first Kyrgyz one did.

I didn’t feel bad about heading into the truck - this was a rational choice. Pitching a tent in these conditions was out of the question and so waiting it out was a no-go. Just before Nura I got out and continued cycling, passing the town of Nura. It was completely demolished with only a few houses standing. I thought back about how I could have been there had I not gone to Bishkek … had I not gone there I would have had a good bike still, too. But I could have been dead, too. Like 72 other people who had lived in that village. I didn’t want to take any pictures. Do an internet search if you’re interested.

I moved on to Irkeshtam - an abominal place. There are very few houses. The rest of the place consists of nothing but trailers. It is all business. By then, it had started to rain / snow again. But I was lucky. The guesthouse I was in had a wonderful family and the way they cared about me was extremely moving. I could cook my own stuff in their kitchen, the two sons moved out of their place for me (I realized this only later) and they invited me for dinner afterwards. They were extremely kind … and I had a wonderful conversation with their oldest son about his life and what he wants to do … as well as how things are for him in Kyrgyzstan.

A similarly awesome conversation followed with three travelers from Israel, ranging from events there as well as a range of other topics. A good day after all … but no pictures.


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