Within one week we passed 3 countries. We left Usbekistan, travelled through a small part of Kasachstan and moved on to Kirgistan. At the border Usbekistan/Kasachstan we got a privileged treatement. When arriving there we noticed a long queue and were wondering how we would be able to cross the border with our bikes. Fortunately an officer waved us to pass on the other side of the fence, bypassing the whole queue. We showed our passports and were directly guided to the passport control. We received our exit stamps without control of the lugguage, nor scanning nor waiting…it can be so easy. On the other side of the border we were already welcomed in Kasachstan by another officer. What a reception.
Full of energy we start our next etap, neglecting the headwind, our persistant companion. At the beginning we follow the high way, later whenever possible we use the smaller roads if there are any. The landscape is the same over long distances: On the right side there is a mountain chain with peaks up to 3000m, parallel to it is the railway track, the power cable and then comes the highway. On the left side is a plane, looking like a steppe. From time to time we see a herd of sheeps or cows with their sheperds on horses. The pictures remind me of the moovy of Dr Schiwago! In the late afternoon we find a nice place for camping close to a village. Unfortunately it is not possible anymore to enjoy the evening outside , it is getting cold. The weather changed suddenly from summer to autumn. In Kivha we still had temperatures over 30 °C, now we have to get warm clothes in the moring, the temps are below 10°C in the night. The colour of the leafs are changing. Along the streets the farmers sell the last tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, as well as potatoes and onions packed in big sacks for the winter.
After 2 days we reach Shymkent. This city has not much to offer. We visit the Abay Park and have an apero on the way back to our hotel.
We need 2 more days to reach Taraz. On the way we pass many villages, which remind us of Rumenia. Hotels or guesthouses are not available. The only option is camping. With time passing by we are getting better to find nice places. We stay close to a small river and enjoy the sunset. As we are already in the tent and in our sleeping bags we get visitors: some cows craze around our tent. We fall asleep with the sound of the chewing and snuffling of the cows.
In the meantime we are efficient in packing and preparing breakfast in the morning. We enjoy the hot coffee, the honeybread and the yoghurt out in the nature. With fresh energy we start the new biking day. On the way we stop to buy water in a small store. 2 little girls cross the street and give us a pear as present from their fruit stand. Very nice..!
Some 30 km before reaching Taraz we meet two other biker, Marleen and Sera. It has been some time since we met some other bike travellers. They are coming from Thailand and are on the way to Europe. We have a lively discussions, and as usual we have a lot of information to exchange. It is always very interesting to figure out which route the other party came from, what they experienced. The time passes by, we have to hurry up to reach Taraz before it’s getting dark. Before reaching Taraz we visit a Mausoleum, Aisha-Bibi, but we are spoiled from good sights, it was not worthwile to stop there.
Shortly before it gets dark we reach the town. The hotel we booked is not that easy to find, we have to call the owner to get guided to the slighty hidden hotel. Once more we use google translator to communicate with our host Mansour. In Kasachstan we do not meet many people speaking English. Russian knowledge would be helpful, but the kyrillic alphabet is tricky. While chatting with Mansour, he gives us a lesson on how to use google even more efficient. For dinner we are driven to his brother’s restaurant and the back transport is organized as well.
The weatherforecast predicts rain in the upcoming days, so we decide not to spend time in Taraz and to continue our route to escape the rainy weather and reach Bishkek before the showers come.
The next day is a highlight for us! Since we have left Mashad, more than a month ago it is the first day we can enjoy tail wind! What a feeling to ride with more than 20km/h. We have the feeling to fly and even ascents are easy. After more than 100km we start to look for a camping ground. We even have the idea to buy some brandy to enjoy a drink for dinner. We need three attempts to find a shop selling alcohol in a country that is known for vodka and beer consumption!
To find the camping side is not that easy, the first suggestion of Markus I do not like. Markus is not really happy about it, but we continue to ride. Finally, after 125km we find a good site with view to the mountains, wide planes and a flock of sheep. The sundowner, cognac mixed with apple juice is delicious. We are happy with the day and enjoy the last light of the day.
The next 2 days are not very nice to ride. Kasach and Kirgise people are mad drivers, they do not care about bikers. We are passing the border to Kirgistan without any problem. The landscape does not change much, one village follows the other. The big difference between Kasachstan and Kirgistan is the quality of the roads, the amount of wholes are increasing, there are many Mercedes old and new models and old trucks that cover us with their exhaust smoke. It’s not really healthy.
Wherever we stop the locals always ask us where we come from and where we are going to. For us this became almost a ritual, waving at people, answering, smiling…stop for a selfie.
After another night in Kara Balta in an old sovjet hotel we arrive in Bishkek. Shortly after arrival it starts raining. We happily managed to escape the rain.
Today it is raining the whole day. We leave the hotel only shortly to do some shopping, the rest of the day we use to do the planning of the last etap. We deviate from our original plan and will follow the Issyk-Köy lake instead of passing by Almaty. It shall be much nicer, let’s get surprised.