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September 1st, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories,highlights,Kyrgyzstan

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Distance / 距離: 95.39km
Time / 時間: 7h 38m
Average speed / 平均速度: 12.5km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 1990.7km

I sit in my tent here about 1km from the Kyrgyzstan border after just crossing over only a hour ago. Compared to the China to Kazakhstan border, this was a piece of cake. Only 10 minutes and I was through. The Kyrgyzstan border guard asked if I had any documentation for my bike, I said of course not, and that was the end of the matter.

The day began with more of the sandy road from Sharin Canyon to the main road. This morning I was in more of an accepting mood, so I did not complain about the regular patches where I had to push the bike through the sand against the head wind that still existed.

Vibrant orange morning leaving Sharin Canyon, Kazakhstan / 朝日inカザフスタン(シャリンカンヨン)

The main road however was a different story. Cycling in a different direction meant that I had a tailwind up the small pass across the hills to the plain on the other side. Unfortunately my camera batteries were dead, so I had no opportunity to take pictures of the amazing scenery on the other side of the Sharin Canyon mountain range. The canyon continued on this side of the mountains also, and the road I was on went straight down into it. Imagine a massive plain heading downhill towards a massive cayon in the center of the plain. The canyon and plain are so expansive that you need to turn your head 180 degrees to take it all in.

The mission for today was orginally to get to Kegen, the last substantial town before the border in eastern Kazakhstan. I arrived at a small town on the way at about 11am and asked how many kms till Kegen. The guy I asked held up five fingers and said something in Russian followed by ‘kilometer’. Great, I thought. Only 5km till Kegen where I can get some lunch. 10km later, still no Kegen. I continued up the hefty pass. By 20km I was sure that the helpful guy had either messed his calculations up, or was just trying to be nice to the poor cyclist by making him feel good about being close to his destination.

It was about now when I received another 1000 (money) from a passing car, along with a 750ml bottle of fermented horse’s milk. These Kazakhstanis are a generous bunch, I tell you (the milk I threw away after getting a few kms away). These fellas held up two fingers when I asked about how far away Kegen was. Sweet, only 2kms!

20kms later at 3pm I roll into Kegen. I had finally worked it out. If Kazakhstan people want to say 50km, they will hold up 5 fingers. I really should have got them to write it down.

The road to Kegen was in very good condition and ran through massive wide steppe with locals collecting hay for the winter. Kegen itself presented itself to me on that particular day as a desolate has-been town. Many of the shops were closed, and a cold, dark wind blew through the streets. Locals were out and about wrapped up in warm coats.

My very late lunch was again yummy dumplings in soup, a dish called Permenyi. I had indigestion most of the day, and this seemed to calm it down. After buying some food for the road (two loaves of bread, cheese, sour cream, crab sticks, soup sachets, snickers bars, water), I headed out again towards the border, intent on getting just as close to the border as I could before nightfall. As I left, some local taxi drivers made indications that I should be prepared for some very cold weather and bad road conditions up in the mountains.

The road after Kegen did indeed deteriorate after passing through another very small lonely settlement that had adolescents asking me for cigarettes. The road wasn’t overly bad however, and it was possible to dodge most of the bad potholes with ease. This was helped again by a hefty tailwind.

At 6pm I was just about to set up my tent when I saw in the distance a gate-like structure over the road. According to how far I had come since Kegen, and how far the border was from Kegen according to the map, the border should have been about 15km away. I decided to go and invesigate ayway, and in the end found that it was indeed the border. The border guards also told me “This is a very bad road, you should go over the other border to the west. You will be cold and there is nowhere to stay here.”

I assured them that I had at least two days food and plenty of water, and I was on my way into Kyrgyzstan.

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