Day 890 – NEW ZEALAND: Re-discovered

Some readers may recall that way back in Uzbekistan, the un-thinkable happened. I was using a small portable hard drive to back up all my photos and videos, and on the very day that I decided I would back the drive up (all 20GB of it), it stopped working ( I thought all was lost, until the other day, my brother Chris calmly and confidently ripped the hard drive to bits, exchanged the small 1.8 inch hard drive from my portable unit with the 1.8 inch hard drive in his Ipod, and promptly proceeded to download all those lost-forever photos and videos onto my computer.

So here is a wee taster for what is to come. When I get the inspiration and time, I’ll put a couple of full edits together. Most of the footage is not particularly good (I have come a long way in video skills), but should make for some interesting videos.

Youtube version here:

Day 98 – Panoramas!

I have installed the Photo Stitch software that came with my camera onto this computer, and have put together a few panorama photos. They give the best idea yet of the kind of terrain I covered in Kyrgyzstan and recently through the Pamirs in Tajikistan. Enjoy.

  • Click on the photos for the bigger versions (you will be directed to – the place where I store all my photos)
  • Place the mouse pointer over the picture, and the title will appear

Near Kerege-Tash Pass, Kyrgyzstan

Kerege-Tash Pass, Kyrgyzstan

West of Urumqi, China

On the way to Naryn, Kyrgyzstan

On the road to Kazerman, Kyrgyzstan


Aqbaital Pass, Pamir Highway, Tajikistan

Near Alichur, Tajikistan

Khargush Pass, near Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan

Sharin Canyon, Kazakhstan

Day 40 – Sharin Canyon (English Summary)

Distance / 距離: 31.89km
Time / 時間: 3h 57m
Average speed / 平均速度: 8km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 1895.3km

English Summary: Definitely worth a visit. Absolutely stunning. But don’t come on a fully loaded touring bike. The access roads have regular sandy spots that cannot be cycled through. Lots of pushing.


Sharin Canyon, Kazakhstan / カザフスタンのシャリンカンヨン


On the road to Sharin Canyon, Kazakhstan / カザフスタンのシャリンカンヨン

Dark skies on the way to Sharin Canyon, Kazakhstan / 暗い空(カザフスタンのシャリンカンヨン)



Campsite on the way to Sharin Canyon, Kazakhstan / シャリンカンヨンへ行く途中のチャンプ場所(カザフスタン)

Day 39 – Tasqarasuw to near Sharin Canyon

Distance / 距離: 69.93km
Time / 時間: 6h 35m
Average speed / 平均速度: 10.6km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 1863.4km

The Kazkakh’s generosity and desire to make me feel welcome became legendary today. I received:

- A full sized braized cooked chicken
- Four small loaves of bread
- 2700 Koktal, the equivalent of about US$23
- A pair of sunglasses to replace my broken ones

I was also offered two 1.5 litre bottles of mineral water. Those I declined because I already had 3 litres on me. That is not to say that I also declined the other things. It’s just that the ones that offered the chicken, bread, money and sunglasses would hear nothing of it. And they were drinking vodka. Especially the large fellow with his arm around me:

Very generous blokes (at the turn-off for Sharin Canyon, Kazakhstan) / やさしいカザフスタン人たち

I tried last night to sleep in my tent without actually pitching it. Therefore I was woken many times with the mosquito net in my face. The reason for not pitching the tent was because I couldn’t be bothered since it was unlikely to rain, and I just wanted to see what it would be like. Due to the lack of rain through this area, I think a bivy bag would have been more than sufficient. Just something to keep the ants and buzzing mosquitos out.

Being woken by the mosquito net also meant that I was only running on half power today. That was not helped be a gutsy headwind in the afternoon that is still blowing now. Although that same wind did help keep my temerature down in this very barren, desert-like terrain.

Gravel road to Sharin Canyon, Kazakhstan / シャリンカンヨンへ行く砂利道(カザフスタン)

By the way, I do wish now that I had accepted the extra 3 litres of water. I only have 2.5 litres on me now, and I am not sure when I will be able to get more tomorrow. The heat really sucks it out of you…

Massive (on the way to Sharin Canyon, Kazakhstan) / 広い(シャリンカンヨンに行く途中)

Day 38 – From Khorgos to Tasqarasuw town (English summary)

Distance / 距離: 102.26km
Time / 時間: 5h 52m
Average speed / 平均速度: 17.4km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 1793.4km

English Summary: Well, I didn’t really know what to expect from Kazakhstan. All I had in my mind was Ali G’s Borat and Edward Genochio’s experiences of being robbed (sorry, can’t seem to find the link to his blog entry on the subject). The Kazakh people however are very friendly, but in a way much different from the Chinese. Very easy going, they often remind me of New Zealanders.




Run down rest stop on the way to Tasqarasuw Town, Kazakhstan / 古いレストラン(カザフスタンのTasqarasuw町へ行く途中)


Kazakhstan sunset near Tasqarasuw / カザフスタン夕焼け(Tasqarasuw町の近く)

Day 37 – Kazakhstan, baby, yeah!

Distance / 今日の距離: 3km
Time riding / 乗っている時間: 20m
Time to cross China-Kazakhstan border / 中国・カザフスタンの国境を超えるのにかかった時間: 10h 30m

No joke. It took 10 hours ad 30 minutes (11 hours and 30 minutes if you include the one hour wait before the gates opened) to cross from China to Kazakhstan today. I was let through the gates to the China departure processing buiding at 8am, and walked out of the Kazakhstan customs building at 6:30pm.

It took the longest on the China side. Both sides had very bad crowd management systems in place, and people would all try to cram through the same small gap to get through processing, all at the same time. If people just chilled out and lined up, then I’m sure things would go so much smoother and quicker. The border staff utilised scowls and rude remarks as their method of getting things done which didn’t help much either…

My situation was complicated as I had a big clumsy bicycle to contend with, which meant that I inevitably ended up at the back of the constant scrum.

Unfortunately cycling the 500m or so from China to Kazakhstan is strictly prohibited, so I also had to endure 2 hours on the bus to cover that 500m. I witnessed the same behaviour amongst the bus drivers as I did the people trying to get out of China. It is is a ‘if you see a gap, go for it, even if there are four other buses also going for it’ behaviour. There was a Kazakhstan border guard directing traffic, however as soon as he let one bus through, the remaining three buses would try to zoom through the one bus sized gap while the guard couldn’t see. Absolute chaos. Once again, if the buses ust lined up orderly, things would have gone so much more smoothly.

Due to the novelty of the utter chaos, the 10 hours did go fairly quickly, and I was euphoric to be on the road in Kazakstan. I only went about 2.5km from the border before turning off the road and riding behind a small hill to set up camp for the night.

Tent site just after the border in Kazakhstan / カザフスタンの国境の近くのキャンプ場所

Just as I was thinking to myself ‘I hope noone comes along’, two guys on horses some galloping by. The younger of the two can speak basic English, so we are able to ascertain that I am from New Zealand and am cycling to England. They take off suitably impressed and return 20 minutes later with a watermelon for me. Fantastic.

So basically, I am just absolutely rapped to be in Kazakhstan. All apprehension has faded, and has been replaced with a sense of freedom for what lies ahead. More of the unknown.