Distance / 距離： 68.91km
Time / 時間： 6h 32m
Average speed / 平均速度： 10.5km/h
Distance to date / 今日までの積算距離： 3070.3km
Tough day. The tail wind that I had enjoyed yesterday had turned on me and was for most of the day a headwind. Without mention is the fact that it was all uphill today also. This road is heading up up up into the highlands of Tajikistan…
To my surprise there were three cafe places along this stretch of road. All of which were in the middle of no where. Certainly not in tows. The first I stopped at and had some colourless but tasty enough permenyi (mutton wrapped in pasta). The second place I gave a miss, and the third I bought some bread. My guess is that these places make their money from the regular truck traffic along this road. Most of the trucks seem to be coming from China loaded with bales of cotton of all things.
There were some small villages along this stretch, but I wouldn’t count on finding any stores to buy food.
I’ve had a real mix of experiences with the locals today. Kids are a delight but a little annoying when they run along behind you and hang onto your bike. This means you’re dragging them up the hill too! At the third cafe a couple of drunks were having goes trying to ride my bike while I bought my bread. They started getting agro when I refused to let them continue playing on the bike when I needed to leave. I got really close to yelling at them. After their friend dragged them off into their car, I noticed that my map and a water bottle were missing (always attached to a pannier).
I was 98% sure that the drunks had taken off with them, but gave them the benefit of the doubt, figuring that they may have fallen off the bike on one of the short downhills further back. This did not stop me from getting more and more upset that they would steal my map! In the end, to my immense relief the map (in a map case) and bottle were on the road about 3km back.
The best experience of the Kyrgyz people has been left to last it seems, however. My image that I had built up regarding Kyrgyz people was ‘look, a foreigner – let’s see how much money we can make off him!’
This image was broken down this evening when two local lads (I’m thinking twins, since they were brothers but the same age – they were 20) discovered my tent and promptly set about spending the entire evening with me. They spoke no English, I spoke no Russian or Kyrgyz. No problem. We managed to have a conversation over dinner (my rolled oats, potato, tomato, egg, onion, cheese and carrot stew), them sitting around the entrance of the tent where I sat.
While I was preparing the stew, one o the brothers, Jilkalbek, said “You’re going to need some more potatoes! And how about some eggs?”
I explained that I would love to have some more potatoes and some eggs would be great. How much do you want for them?
Jilkabek would hear nothing of it. It was his gift for me. He sent his brother Ulanbek off to their house (apparently just over the hill) to get them, and sure enough he came back half an hour later with about 2kg of potatoes, several onions, three eggs, and to top it off, 1.5 litres of freshly milked cow’s milk (like, it was still warm).
I wasn’t quite sure what to say. Thank you seemed pathetic.
It was pitch black by the time Jilkalbek and Ulanbek left to go home (about 8:30pm). I offered to light the way with my torch, but they said they knew the way. I suppose when you live in what I consider to be wilderness, you get to know your way around…