The 2 days off we took in Bosteri were worthwhile. After our unwanted break in the “sanatorium” the weather got cold, but it was sunny and beautiful again. We have a last breakfast at the hotel, this time in our room, as we do not want to leave too late. We are happy to pack our bikes and pedal again. We enjoy the ride along the lake, look at the white snowy mountains and the coloured trees and allees. We are crossing small villages that look like ghost villages, all shops are closed and prepared for winter. It is understandable that everythin is closed, as only very few touriste as we are here at this time of the year. The last apples and vegetables are sold along the street, in the fields the potatoes are harvested by hand. From time to time women or men are sitting in front of their houses, enjoying the warming autumn sun. Schoolkids are waving at us, some boys riding a bike accompany us for a short time.
During these last hundreds of kilometres of our trip we experience a mixture of different emotions; it feels strange that our trip comes to an end, partially the motivation is missing. The streets are difficult to ride, they are bumpy and full of wholes or it goes uphill; and last but not least – the headwind is with us…does it ever stop?
The drivers in this outback are crazy drivers, passing us as close as possible we do not feel save at all. On the other hand we are compensated by the beauty of the nature; the fresh snow on the immense high plateau before passing the Kasachian border, the sun gives it a special glance, it is just incredibly beautiful.
In this lonely area there are no accommodations, it’s again time for camping. The first night we find a beautiful place with view on the Issyk kul. The second night we spend on 1800m asl, close to a river, in a depression which gives us some protection against the wind. Markus is preparing a fire, but in this heighth it does not help a lot. Even the tea with some brandy does not change the situation. After the dinner I creep into the sleeping bag being chilled through and smelling of smoke. Markus, handsome as usual, prepares a bed bottle with hot water, that helps.
The next morning our tent is covered with snow and ice. The last ascent before reaching the border to Kasachstan is waiting for us. We have already been riding some hours along the gravelroad when a car overtakes us and stops. And guess who gets out of the car? Corinne and Christian whom we had met in Khiva have caught up with us. What a surprise. We agree to meet in the Hotel Kegen in Kasachstan and to spend the evening together. Before getting to the border we reach for a last time 2000m asl and arrive in Kegen late in the afternoon. Kegen is a lonely village, it has exactely one hotel, the restaurants are all closed at 1800. We decide to buy some samosas, bread, cheese, beer and brandy and make ourselves comfortable in the hotel to have this good meal with our friends.
On the 9th of Oct. we plan to visit the Charyn Canyon, which is worthwhile riding an extra tour. In the canyon thre is even an eco lodge, where we can spend the night, a perfect fit. Already the first part of the drive is beautiful: quilt as far as you can see, horse flocks crossing our way, nice sunny weather and warmer temperatures. The last 10km to the canyon is dirt road, corrugated- never mind we look forward to see the the sunset in the canyon. After an hour we arrive at the gate of the park and realize that the lodge is 3.5km down in the valley. We are still positive to get there in time, but when we look at the path leading down into the canyon we realize that we somehow could manage walking down, but how would we get up again…? It is simply too steep.
Ok another night of camping lies ahead of us, but in such a nice scenery, the sky full of stars and nobody around, it is just terrific.
The next moring we enjoy the sunrise, a good breakfast in the sun, surrounded by a great scenery of the canyon.
First of all we have to ride back the gravel road to reach the main road and then head towards Chundzah and Zahrkent, the last town before reaching the chinese border. After 2hrs we take a rest as usual, look at the internet, chat a bit and then continue our ride. After about 20km I need a bio break. Suddenly I hear Markus saying “so, so.. “ What is he trying to say? He explains that he has forgotten his handy at the last stop 20km back!
There are only 2 possibilities to get the handy: bike back the 20km or hitchhike. Markus decides for the easier solution. He doesn’t have to wait for a long time: the second car already stops, after half an hour he is back again, the handy was still laying where he had put itJJ
On the 11th of October we are riding a big part of the day on a brand new highway that connects Almaty with Khorgos (China). I looks as if this is already a part of the new Silk road that lately was mentioned a couple of times in the papers. It is really relaxing, we have our lane and on top there is hardly any traffic. Only when we leave the highway the hassle with the cars starts again, we are happy to arrive savely in Zharkent. In the evening we shortly go out for dinner, the air is full of smoke/smog.
As the temperature is around 0°C during the night everybody is heating his house with wood and cole, that pollutes the air incredibly. Once more we realize how good it is back home.
The 12th of October is our big day! Exactly 7 month after we started our journey we reach our target, the chinese border after 10’615km. It takes another 30km from Zharkent to get to the Chinese border /the first Checkpoint. As we have no visa for China we are not allowed to go any further. Already some km before the last checkpoint in Kazachstan the trucks are queing up and waiting for the opening of the border. As soon as the turnpike opens a truck rallye starts, overtaking left and right. We move to the side and watch fascinated, being covered of exhaust smoke.
We find an old truck tyre where we sit down and have a toast to celebrate our achievement and simply enjoy the moment.
On the way back to Zharkent we are in thoughts. What is going to be next? We do not have anylonger a program. What are we going to do the next few days…
Friday 13th we take a taxi to get to Almaty. We are not in the mood to ride the 300km of boring sights, flat landscape and nothing to see.
Now we are in Almaty and prepare our return, look at the town and enjoy the sweet doing nothing. Yesterday we went out for dinner with Guido and Rita, another CH biker couple that stays ln Almaty as we do.