14degrees off the beaten track
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September 18th, 2006 | categorizilation: all categories

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after an epic seven days to get here that included diahorrea, near starvation at the hands of Kyrgyzstan pasta (made in the pits of pasta hell), no roads, roads but no bridges, and dodgy information. I will try to get all the action updated today, but may not be able to get all the juicy pics up due to slow internet. Tomorrow I head to Osh, hopefully along more civilized roads!

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    Permanent Link     Comments (35)

Comment by Miktibek — September 19, 2006 @ 4:40 am | post a comment

The road to Osh right from Naryn is much worse than from Karakol. Please, hurry up it might be cold there as well. I'll pray a lot for you.

Comment by Rob Thomson — September 19, 2006 @ 5:52 am | post a comment

Thank you for that information, Miktibek. I cannot imagine how a road could be worse than the Tosor to Eki Naryn road, but I will take your advice and get a hurry on!

To everybody – sorry for the lack of photos in posts. Internet connection here at the Naryn CBT (Community Based Tourism) Office is slow at best, so putting links in posts would take too much time. The photos are uploaded however, and can be seen in the photo gallery.

Comment by Aunty Lyn — September 19, 2006 @ 6:58 am | post a comment

My prayer is from Psalm 121 – the Lord watch over your comings and goings now and always!!

Comment by Ailsa — September 19, 2006 @ 10:07 am | post a comment

Wow! What an adventure, sounds hard work but amazing, glad you've made it through the last week. Keep on going!! I looked in to coming to Uzbekistan, bad idea!! Now really want to go but would be rather too expensive for only a week there, maybe let me know where you'll be christmas/new year. If it's somewhere in europe i'll maybe manage!!

Keep on going!


God is our refuge and strength,a very present help in trouble.

2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.


4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,the holy habitation of the Most High. 5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;God will help her when morning dawns. 6The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7The LORD of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress.


8Come, behold the works of the LORD,

how he has brought desolations on the earth.

9He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;he burns the chariots with fire.

10"Be still, and know that I am God.I will be exalted among the nations, will be exalted in the earth!"

11The LORD of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46

Comment by Daniel — September 19, 2006 @ 5:33 pm | post a comment

Hey Rob,

I've been reading Janne Corax's and Martin Adserballe's websites about their Tibet adventures the last weeks. When I read about their river-crossings with upright bikes I thought: Would that be possible with my SMGT? Now I know that it is, thanks to you.

On my Norway trip last year I've also had a moment where I was very weak and thought: "Now it's time to go home!" Unfortunately I had the chance to and did so. Since then I really do have some kind of regrets for that, thinkin': "You should have taken off one day and thought twice". Cause the adventures that would have waited for me would have been really great.

I hope that you'll master these situations great as you did the last time, if there are any to come on you way ahead.

I'm looking forward to accomanying you in Germany, I'm really confident you'll make it, now.

Cheers, Daniel

Comment by Haidee — September 19, 2006 @ 6:28 pm | post a comment

Hey Rob

So thankful you have reappeared and are still going for it.

Please take care and consider with wisdom the roads ahead. Great photos, camping beside mountains with snow on them and enjoying misty mysterious mornings. You`ve escaped!

May God bless you, be your stronghold in times of despair,

and guide you on roads of learning.


Comment by Aunty Jenny — September 19, 2006 @ 6:34 pm | post a comment

Hey Rob, you have certainly had a tough time of it lately. Our prayers go with you as you go into the unknown. I was talking to your good friend Malcolm on Saturday night. We were both at a Mempemology concert at the Regent Theatre in Dunedin. Its a band created by Sam Callendar's two brothers. It was a fantastic show! It must be hard for you out there at times, when you are feeling unwell, to keep yourself motivated. Well done for slogging it out!

Comment by Anna — September 19, 2006 @ 6:34 pm | post a comment

Hey Rob,

Am pleased to hear you are safe and well, i was a bit worried when you hadn't posted for a while!

All the best for the next leg of your trip – I hope you get a decent meal soon!

Comment by Mike C — September 19, 2006 @ 7:14 pm | post a comment

It looks like the best country is the hardest to get to! Your photos of the last week are amazing! Best you've taken so far!


Mike C

Comment by Aunty Jenny — September 19, 2006 @ 7:59 pm | post a comment

By the way Rob, I spelt Mephymology wrong in my last comment, so this is the correct one. I've been looking at your pics. What amazing scenery. I can't believe how you managed to get your bike over that rough terrain! You will be so relieved when the bad roads are over! You really will have to write a book about your travels when you get home. It will make very good reading.

Comment by Dave Monks — September 19, 2006 @ 8:13 pm | post a comment

Gosh, Rob. What an amazing few days. We all feel like we're along with you – except that I'm in a warm office on a soft chair wondering what to have for tea (and pudding…) – and wishing you all the best.

The photos tell a story on their own, don't they? Amazing.

Is all the livestock farmed nomadicly/communally? Or are there fences/owned lands/cultivated gardens? What are the stock eatting – grass/clover? herb? shrubs? What sort of rainfall are you seeing?

Keep up the good work, Dave

Comment by nobbie — September 19, 2006 @ 10:48 pm | post a comment

Hi Rob,

I have been following your journey for a few weeks now. It sounds and looks like you are having quite the adventure. I know you have had a heck of a time lugging your gear and recumbent around. But, overall, how has the recumbent performed? Is it everything you expected? Anything you wish was different?

Thanks for sharing your adventure with us!


Comment by Aunty Les — September 20, 2006 @ 3:21 am | post a comment

So glad to hear from you again. I haven't seen all the photos yet as they take ages to download. Perhaps the Chinese spicey noodles weren't sdop bad afterall considering the culinary delights of Kygyzstan! I hope the tummy upset has completely resolved. Did you lose much wieght because of it? You must be nothing but skin, muscle and bone by now!

The garage at 6 Santa Rosa Ave is rapidly filling up with our stuff. We will doing our main move next Saturday with the help of LBC folk.

I had unexpected surgery last Thursday. I haf an appointment to see a plastic surgeon about my carpal-tunnel syndrome and he offered to do the decompression right there and then. it was done under local anaethetic and took all of 10mins. i can remember the days when people were admitted to hospital for the procedure which was done under a general anaesthetic! It's great to sleep right through the night instead of beiong woken up 1-3 times with a painful tingly-numb hand.

Thje plans for the new miniastry centre for LBC are starting to look great. The whole complex will be very simple in design but very striking. The architevts will have all the elevations plus the computer 'walk through' all ready to present to the congregation in another couple of weeks. Once the final approval is given, the architects will be able to comence detailed drawings and hopefully the building will begin soon.

By the way, ther's a cycle track now from Prebbleton to Lincoln, put in as part of the rail-trail to Little River. It goes right passed the LBC proeprty so means that people will have an ashophalt path to walk to church on should they wish to do so.

Comment by Aunty Les — September 20, 2006 @ 3:58 am | post a comment

Have just looked at the photos. Amazing country. I like the area around Barskoon, as there are some trees which seem to be very absent in most of the other pictures. One of the shots looks very Switzerland-like. Lake Isikul looks very large, although I can't see it on any of the maps.

Is the road always obvious? Parts of it seem little more than a sheep track!

Comment by Aunty Les — September 20, 2006 @ 3:59 am | post a comment

By the way – did you try any of the mutton jerky? It would have been a change from dry pasta.

Comment by malcolm — September 20, 2006 @ 4:38 am | post a comment


what the heck are you thinking. You nut. That place sounds insane. Seriously though Rob. I am stoked for you at the moment. You'd better write a book when this is all over. far out. So many people are enjoying the outdoors vicariously through you. It is great. my parents are following along. Dad thinks you might have taken a wrong turn back there somewhere. I am meant to go back to the island tomorrow but it is super windy so the wee cessna wont fly. I started a photo business too (kinda). First product comes out tomorrow all going well. (www.purefocus.co.nz). So yeah. I wont be able to check up on you really for 4 weeks but look foward to hearing the next installment when I get off the island..

Comment by malcolm — September 20, 2006 @ 4:44 am | post a comment

also – I hope that cooker hasn't let you down

Comment by Murdo — September 20, 2006 @ 7:56 am | post a comment


Wow mate, what a week you have had. Otsukare! Put it this way, it sounds like Beppu had a bad typhoon..so you aint missing any good weather back there! haha Keep up the good work and don't give up!

Comment by Chris J — September 20, 2006 @ 8:10 am | post a comment


Still following your adventures and cheering you on from here in Nagoya. The photos, as always, are amazing.

Bit of a typhoon blew past Kyushu last weekend. It managed to cause a small tornado that tipped over a JR train in Miyazaki near Nobeoka. Only light injuries according to the news (thankfully). It sounds like it really couldn't compare to your last week though…….Hoping that better roads and better food are ahead for you!

Comment by carl w. — September 20, 2006 @ 1:51 pm | post a comment

good to see that atleast your still ticking along.

Try to find when you have time the James Elroy Flecker poem about pilgrims, It about the journey to samarkand. It's very good I use to know it by heart. Sadly years of alcohol, parties sitting on the sofa watching soap's and thinking about paying the mortgage has sadly left it's mark.

It's something like this…..

Go as a pilgrim and seek out danger.

far from the comfort and well light avenue of life.

Pit your very soul against the unknown and seek stimulation in the company of the brave.

Experience cold and hunger, heat thirst and survive to see another challenge and another dawn.

Only then will you be at peace with yourself

and be able to know and to say.

I looked down on the farthest side of the mountain, fullfilled and with understanding and all truly content

That I lived a life that was my own choice

We are the pilgrim's master, and shall go always a little further

It maybe beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow

Across that angry or glimmering sea

there's loads more but alas I don't recall it all. Enjoy your cycling old mate and try to find something to eat which sticks it all back together….

regards from darkest surrey

Comment by carl w. — September 20, 2006 @ 1:58 pm | post a comment

hold on a minute was that cow thing licking it's arse! in the pictures? it flashed past so quick it took my brain a minute or so to work it out!

hahahahahahaha brilliant that's cheered me up a treat. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH and lol need more pictures of that sort of thing!

Be honest you've not gone there for the cycling have you! that picture is way wrong!!!!!!!

ahahahahahaha I've got chest pain now, damn it it might be a heart attack….

Comment by Aunty Jenny — September 20, 2006 @ 4:01 pm | post a comment

Rob, I've been looking at your pics. That woman wasn't milking a horse was she?! the thought makes me shudder!

Comment by Dad — September 21, 2006 @ 3:05 am | post a comment


Just got caught up on the most recent photos and adventures – hang in there mate, you are doing well.

The photos are amazing and I can only imagine what it must be like to be experiencing it in the flesh. I am looking forward to when you are home and can tell us all about it.

We have just got some e-mails from Chris in Canada. He has found a flat and is going for job interviews. It won't be long before he is into satisfying work.


Comment by carl w. — September 21, 2006 @ 2:25 pm | post a comment

Don't knock it till you've tried it is what I say. You could make a new national sport out of it "The horse milking championships" perhaps if enough people get into it, it could in the Olympics… Brilliant England might have a chance at winning something at last…

Sorry still sniggering about the cow creature… brilliant!

PS I broke my wrist, came off my bike it hurts, lots! Mental note to self do not try in future to stop the earth using nothing other than poor/ non existent super powers you are NOT superman.

Comment by sshhhhhh — September 22, 2006 @ 6:00 am | post a comment

Dude, I dunno bout food but chicks sure look edible here http://www.meniki.com/gokyrgyz/2006/09/11/miss-to…

Comment by Martyn — September 22, 2006 @ 11:22 am | post a comment

Hi Rob – great expedition – great photos – thanks for sharing, and may the road get a little easier!

Comment by Aunty Jenny — September 23, 2006 @ 3:12 pm | post a comment

The milk might taste okay, but it just looks weird! Of course horses must produce milk, but it's just not something one thinks about all that often!! I wonder why us as westerners chose to milk cows?

Comment by Jean — September 23, 2006 @ 4:13 pm | post a comment

Hi Rob, great to see you're still alive, if a little thinner. I just googled diarrhea (something I do every day!) and it backed up something I remember mum telling me years ago: avoid greasy foods if you've got a dodgy tummy. I know your food options are a little limited but Olive oil might not be the best thing to eat when you're crook… greases your tracks, so to speak. anyway, best of luck for the rest of the trip!

Comment by Mum — September 24, 2006 @ 2:01 am | post a comment

Glad you decided to keep going. Hope and pray that you get the food you need but avoid the dirarhoea! Definitely not nice when you need all your energy for biking.

Comment by carl w. — September 24, 2006 @ 2:54 am | post a comment

I guess people milk what ever they can get their hands on so to speak. I also guess in South America they milk some other creatures depending whatever stands about long enough (Llama's milk now that sounds wierd!)

oily stuff is a good thing to avoid when your turning yourself inside out, also any wierd spices as your various pipes will want to reject whatever it is. Hence that will also want to exit faster than you might have wanted it to. I would also say you might want to take a break from it just for a day or two in a good location cos pooing through the eye of a needle at times not of your choosing does really take it out of you in more ways then one.

Keep pedalling after your better as becoming a science expriment for a load of friends you've just not met yet does not sound all that nice. Finally the dead sheep hanging from the bridge what was their crime? I would urge you not to hang around there too much, if that how they treat the live stock it's a bad sign! "Stay on the Path don't venture onto the Moors at night!" from american werewolf in london never a truer word spoken I think.

All the best from darkest surrey.

Comment by Jim Gagnepain — September 25, 2006 @ 10:22 pm | post a comment

Hang in there Rob! My wife and I are following your adventures closely. I've been ill in foreign countries, but I wasn't touring on a cycle. I can't imagine…

We saw your Google Japanese video on recumbents. My wife is fluent in Japanese, and says you speak very well!

Comment by Rob Thomson — September 26, 2006 @ 7:19 am | post a comment

Carl W., no, that is not a picture of a cow licking its bum. I'll have you know it is a picture of a yak licking its bum. That is why it is such a funny picture. I laughed when I looked at the pic at the end of the day too, trust me.

Comment by Rob Thomson — September 26, 2006 @ 7:22 am | post a comment

Daniel, don't you worry about the SMGT. I am convinced without a doubt it is the strongest bike in the world. It has been lapping up every hit I've been dealing to it on these bad Kyrgyz back-roads.

Comment by Rob Thomson — September 26, 2006 @ 7:24 am | post a comment

Dave Monks, the livestock is grazed nomadically. Most of the high country (3000m plus) I have covered now only have empty camps sites as all the nomad Kyrgyz have left for warmer pastures lower down. They will be back in March next year. There are no fences, and the livestock eat all those things that you mentioned. They just eat everything in their path.

Comment by Rob Thomson — September 26, 2006 @ 7:27 am | post a comment

Malcolm, the cooker is going like a bought one. It needs a shake every now and then with this 76 octane (?!) petrol they have over here, but it's a good thing alright.

By the way everyone, Malcolm lent me his MSR stove for the whole trip. How ledgendary is that? Very, I say. Very.

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