View From Here To There By Bicycle in a larger map
View From Here to There By Bicycle in a larger map
Heading to Kyrgyzstan the feeling of intrepidation came back that i`d felt a few times before on the ride, once on setting off, the other heading into eastern Europe and another time arriving to Iran. Each time being proven wrong on the stereotyped cultures of the countries. One thing with Kyrgyzstan recently becoming a visa free country makes the border crossing fairly straight forward with a quick stamp in the passport and a friendly welcome to Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan is a country with a population of 5.2 million people, wedged between Uzbekistan to the west, China to the east, Tajikistan to the south and Kazakhstan to the north. Looking at the map cycling towards Kyrgyzstan there was always a thought that the next step to China was probably going to be the toughest part of the ride mentally and physically, with the weather and isolation playing a role. From Osh to the Chinese border is 158 miles of interesting rural nomadic life along the famous central Asia silk road, via small hamlet villages such as Gulcho, Akbosogo, Sary Tash and Nura. Nura being a place that suffered a horrific earthquake in 2008 where 75 people lost their lives, the turquoise colored fabricated houses that have recently been built by the Red cross & Crescent charity standing out in the hillside valley. Six km`s after Nura is Simhana, a small gathering of old railway carriages turned into home stays situated directly on the Kyrgyzstan to Chinese border.



Arriving to Osh the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan to Bishkek, is a place which locals believe is older than Rome. Feeling like the last city on earth, winter was set in, the weather was considerably more colder than Uzbekistan people were wrapped up wearing thick coats and hats, market traders were shouting out amongst the shuffling around of people minding their step as not to slip on the icy floor. Along the roadside was stalls of sheep heads, hooves, offal, dried fruits, mobile phone gadgets imported from China and surprisingly fresh fruit and vegetables which i had`nt seen since Iran, imported from hotter climates such as Ecuador and South Africa. I needed to find a cheap hotel for some rest for a few days and have time to look around and get things organised for the next step to China. Not long after booking into a hotel i met an English guy called John, he`d been spending the last three years traveling around Asia, renting out his house back in the UK. It was good to chat to a fellow English guy, though felt at times i`d actually forgotten how to converse in English with not speaking the language for so long. Christmas time was around the corner and could`nt help feeling at times this was making the next bit of the adventure a bit more difficult on the brain, China was feeling so close yet so far away.



Setting off on the Monday to make my way to China, the only guide i had of the route was a photograph on my phone of an article from a tour guide book, which turned out it was more aimed at someone travelling in a motor vehicle rather than a bicycle. Snow had been coming down through the night, I was having doubts whether to set off or wait another day for the weather to fair a little. On leaving Osh and cycling towards Sary Tash in the back of my mind was the conversation John and I had about if the weather is like this here, what`s it going to be like higher up over the pass. The scenery along the Irkeshtam pass, coupled with the higher altitude was literally breathtaking.



One morning after waking the sun was skirting the tops of the mountains, the normal thought to see the sun rising was ahh warmth!!, the opposite would actually happen, the temperature would plummet to -8 degrees colder somewhat. Looking into this it`s something to do with the earths atmosphere which is given the term Semi-Diurnal Tide, where the suns rays take time to reach earth and heat the air which has already been warmed from earth through the night. When the temperature plummeted down to -20, things got cold, a small hamlet of houses were up ahead, I thought to myself, I need to get warm, looking for a house with smoke from the chimney, a guy standing in a door way beckoned me in for a cup of tea, he must of read my mind. Sitting with his family inside, we shared a tin of caramel with some bread, followed by sardines in tomato sauce. By the time I left the temperature had risen to -10 degrees, which felt like t-shirt weather compared to -20.





Arriving to Simhana a small hamlet town of old railway carriages built directly outside the Kyrgyzstan border gates to China, I took a seat made of old truck tyres on the steps to a carriage, glancing up at the line of trucks looking at the Chinese lettering on the cargo containers and having a surreal moment of being so close to China after months of cycling.


Facts

The capital of Kyrgyzstan is Bishkek.

The currency of Kyrgyzstan is the Som.

Kyrgyzstan is famous for it`s walnut fruit forests that are the largest walnut forests in the world.

Kyrgz and Russian are the official languages.

The main industries of Kyrgyzstan include small machinery, textiles, food processing, cement, shoes and sawn logs.

The highest peak in Kyrgyzstan is 7437m, peak Popeda.

The main industries of Kyrgyzstan include small machinery, textiles, food processing, cement, shoes and sawn logs.




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1 comment:

  1. Fantastic Rob! Looks like the best journey and hard won too. Keep on!

    ReplyDelete