Greetings from Kyrgyzstan!
Adventurer´s Inn was cramped with Japanese and French cyclists.
In the last evening Australian guy (Andrew) appeared to the hostel with his F800GS. We had nice chat during the evening about his trip and my plans.
Woke up for the sound of discussion outside. Went to check what is going on and noticed that few Japanese were already awake. Well, they had been up all night drinking vodka, so looks like Japanese also know how to drink 🙂
Ate half of watermelon for breakfast and shared other half with Australian rider (Andrew).
Left hostel around 13:00. Rode to the edge of the city and stopped there for fuel. Guy asked how many liters I want fuel. I tried to tell him that I do not know how many liters I have left and that I want full tank. He did not understand me, so I just told him 25 litres.
After 13 litres tank was full and once again fuel was spraying all around, this time I was wiser and stayed a bit further away while pumpguy got soaked with fuel…
Smell of fuel was burning in my nose when I left Samarkand behind.
At the intersection I stopped for army checkpoint where they checked my passport and bike papers. I asked if Pamir is open, but it was still closed.
I was so close, but still so far…
In any case, now I was allowed to ride road #372, which has been closed for all foreigners for some time.
I expected that road must be in bad shape or something else over there had caused Tajikistan government to close this road.
Road was in good shape and followed river. Villages were looking quite poor.
Some of the kids were waving their hands to me so I replied to them by waving back. Some of the kids were just staring at me and few threw something towards me (apples maybe)?
This day I also killed my first chicken…
I was approaching one village and followed curve towards right when suddenly I noticed that chicken ran from the ditch straight to my bike. I saw it rolling on the road and was preparing to stop to check if it was still alive. Then I saw bunch of kids running from same ditch towards the chicken and decided to continue without stopping. I thought that stopping would make just a huge hassle and now knowing how much I would need to pay. In any case, someone had chicken for dinner now.
I started looking camping place early enough,but could not find any suitable place for tent (out of sight). Most of the time there was river immediately on the right side and mountain on the left. If there was a open space, it was place for village.
20km before Kirgistan border sun started to be quite low when I stopped to a second police checkpoint and noticed flat area behind their building. I asked officer if it´s ok for me to camp over night there. They agreed, so finally I had place to sleep.
While I was putting up my camp, one officer came to tell me that I could join them for dinner. Wow! This is nice!
Dinner was bread and tea and did not fill my stomache too much, but gesture was really nice.
During the dinner officers also warned me about the stray dogs which might try to bite.
Road was in ok shape, but nothing special along this road. Saw snow covered mountains first time since Georgian military road.
Woke up around seven when few dogs were barking around my tent. Got out and the dogs suddenly disappeared (no did not hit them and did not throw anything at them). Maybe they saw something more interesting to bark at…
Reached border really fast. Got a bit confused at the first gate where I should go, but after second attempt, I reached correct place and got through to the passport check. Got stamp to my passport without any questions, Tajikistan borders seem to be really easy. Officer wished me good trip and said also “Welcome back”.
To reach Kirgistan border, I had to ride around 10km dusty gravel road behind few trucks (took quite much time before there was enough space for overtaking).
At the Kirgistan border I was guided to one building where I got pass the queue straight to the front. Officer took my passport, checked it and asked “Finland, no visa?”, to which I answered “no visa needed”. PAM and I had entry stamp.
No customs, no luggage check, nothing. Now I was in Kirgistan and whole border crossing took less than 5 minutes!
Road from the border was really smooth. Rode around 80km from the border to a village, where I bought few beers and a bit food.
From the village I crossed one rusty bridge and took small gravel path towards Mount Lenin basecamp.
Few evening before I heard from Australian guy that there is one Bulgarian guy camping while his friends are climbing to the peak.
Mount Lenin should be one of the most easiest over 7000m peaks to reach.
Followed this gravel path around 30km, crossed few streams and scared few herds of lambs. Scenery was majestic, white snow covered mountains just kept growing higher and higher when I got closer to the camp.
At the camp site I found Bulgarian camp quite easily. Andrey jumped out of his tent to check who is coming. He was really happy camper and glad to have company.
Evening went fast just chatting and wondering how cool the night might be.
I do not know how cold it was, but after weeks of blazing hot weather, this cool temperature made my whole body to shiver while I crawling deeper to my sleeping bag.
Slept quite well. Woke up few times when I noticed I was gasping for air.
Finally decided to get up around 7 and noticed my headache was gone!
So, it took one night for my body to get used to this altitude.
Mount Lenin looked amazing when morning sun slowly revealed whole mountain.
I was wondering why it looks so different compared to the alps, where you can always see dark spots in the mountains, this was totally white. I guess it is due to altitude and the fact that it is covered by snow all year long.
Around noon I left the camp to head to my next destination, Osh.
Once I reached the main road again, I had to stop few times to take some photos. Scenery from the valley was just breathtaking. Snow cover mountains one after another as long as I could see…
Thanks to Chinese road builders, I was able to enjoy smoothest ride for a long long time.
I stopped at few gas stations, but they had only either 80-octane fuel or no fuel at all. Luckily I still had enough fuel to continue so that I would not need to get this fuel again.
Road started to climb up and I got new record with the paved road altitude. It climbed up all the way to 3600m. At the top I stopped to have a break when local teenagers approached me and asked if they could take a photo next to the bike. Of course I agreed and as a reward, I got offered some local bread.
After the pass, I found gas-station which claimed to have 93-octane fuel, so filled tank with it. Later on I started to doubt what it really was, because bike did not feel normal (but kept ongoing on in any case).
Scanery was really nice almost all the way to Osh. Closer to Osh landscape got flatter.
I had rough of Osh to guide me to one hotel. Spent some time going round and round again of the city, but could not find this hotel.
Finally I saw one building which had hotel signs on it, so stopped there to ask for a room.
Got 2-person room for 800, but before they gave it to me, they asked me to check the room. So, went to see it, was quite “rough”, but it had a bed and hot water from the shower, good enough for me!
Evening went by reading emails and having dinner in the hotel restaurant.
At the breakfast I noticed email from Uli and Annaleen (fellow riders who have been travelling already around 2 years Alser on tour) that they are also in Osh! We are going to cross China together, so met them at their hotel to get their plans for coming days.
I noticed that they had new tires on their bikes. Heard that carrying tires to China might cause some issues at the border, so decided to change my rear tire also in Osh.
Other plans were to change engine oil and do some laundry.
I got GPS coordinates from Uli for tire changing place and also for place where I could get my bike washed.
Bike got really good treatment from a little guy, price was only 150 (2.5€).
Next I got to a tire changing place. Handed new and old tire to a guy who used his tire changing machine for few minutes and voila´I had new Heidenau on the rim.
I could have used old tire still for 3-4 thousand kms, but decided to get it changed here (last known place where I could get it changed).
Guys at the tireshop also gave me instructions where I could buy some oil and change it.
Got to this place, found Castrol oil, took my tools and started the process. I told them few times that I will do the change (do not want anyone to touch my baby and overtighten any of the screws), but still there was hands coming from all sides which wanted to touch my wrenches and help me…
In any case, got the job done without any problems.
Next task was to find a bank where I could get my Tajikistan money exchanged. Checked 4 banks, but none of them accepted Tajikistan currency… Decided to forget this thing and just hope that I would see some travellers going to opposite direction.
At the hotel I washed my riding suit which was really dirty, had to rinse it several times, but finally it looked like grey again 🙂
After the laundry was done, I walked to nearby grocery store. While walking I saw couple riding F800GS. Hmmm, I was 100% sure that these guys were tourists 🙂
Spent evening with them in hotel restaurant having dinner, few beers and nice conversation.
At the breakfast we decided to meet Uli and Annaleen in the GPS coordinates, where they were planning to camp.
Riding out of Osh, my GPS guided us to a really bumpy gravel road.
Exhaust touched the ground few times, but this is quite normal (SR-racing exhaust is hanging too low in the front of the rear tire).
Just before getting to a paved road, a car from opposite site drove straight in to a deep water puddle and splashed lot of muddy water on top of me… So, now my suit looked like it has not been washed for a long time 🙂
Next few hours were in a really boring ride to avoid crossing through Uzbekistan. Nothing to see even the road was in good shape.
Met Japanese couple who have been cycling around the world for past 3.5 years and now they were on their way back home to Japan.
After Taskomur started nice curvy road in a narrow canyon which followed small river river.
Really enjoyed this part of the ride after such a boring morning ride.
At some point I saw two F800GS bikes parked next to a road. License plate looked familiar, so knew that Uli and Annaleen were close.
Spent one hour chatting and drinking tea next to a small stream. Really relaxing 🙂
But, we still had quite a long way to our planned camping area, so needed to continue.
Spent some time close to the GPS-coordinates searching good place to camp (near toktogul lake) and finally found suitable spot away from the road.
Evening was nice, warm and we had really good dinner under the full moon.
Woke up when sun started to warm-up my tent.
We had nice breakfast together and then started riding again. Our target for the day was to reach Song-Kul lake.
100km on a M41 and then started gravel road for the rest of the day.
Road A367 and smaller road closer to Song-Kul were in the middle of gorgeous scenery. Sometimes going in the narrow canyon, sometimes getting higher.
Roads were in quite good condition even spring flood had destroyed quite many bridges.
Got wet again in one stream crossing which I crossed with a bit too much speed. Did not chrash, but water just sprayed all over me and over my helmet.
Song-Kul lake is roughly 3000m above sea level, so I was expecting night to be cool again.
We found good place to camp next to yurt-village.
Jeff had urge to climb on top of nearby hills with his bike, so while he was doing this we prepared dinner. Dinner tasted super good after a nice gravel day (dinner was rice with onion-sausage-paprika-tomatoe-ketchup-sauce).
Day had been excellent, riding in a postcard scenery has been one of the most memorable rides during this trip so far.
Woke-up quite early for the sounds of locals preparing their horses.
Yurt-village was full of tourists and now they were going to have ride up in the mountains. Might be nice, but I still have doubts of riding with a horse…
Night had been quite cool because there was thin layer of ice on top of the water (dishwater). This time I did not suffer from the cold as in Mount Lenin basecamp.
When we left from the camp, I noticed familiar looking car near the road. Damn! It was Bulgarian guys from Mount Lenin!
Had to go and quickly wish good morning for these guys. Nice meeting again always smily Andrey.
Not so far from the camp we met older german cyclist. He was short on water, so I gave him one litre of water. I can reach next store really fast, but with cycle it could take several hours.
Up in the pass road turned totally black. Really fine black dust was from nearby coil mine. Due to dust it was hard to see if there was and rocks or holes on the road, but got through without bigger issues.
Gravel road to paved A365 was quite rough (at the pass), but easily doable. At the pass we met several cyclists from USA, Germany and Australia.
Few km before A365 we met Italian Marco and his wife (I met them earlier in Samarkand). They were going to opposite direction (towards Song-Kul) to spend a night in a yurt.
A365 had road construction ongoing, so dust was problem again. This time there was no chance to avoid it due to other traffic.
At the gas-station we got tanks filled and got a good laugh for the chaos what locals arranged at the gas station (they do not know a word queue…).
From a gas station it was boring coastal road ride (coast of Issyk-Kul lake) towards our B&B-place.
Small thing worth mentioning was one time when we got stopped by a police due to claimed speeding (actually Uli was stopped, but we all stopped next to him). No ticket.
B&B-place was hard to find, but we got lucky because one guy stopped next to me and asked what we were looking for. Told him and he led us to this B&B-place. Actually he was the owner of the place 🙂
It was a bit expensive place, 750/person + 250 dinner, but dinner was nice inside a nice yurt.
Felt really good to have shower after several days of riding and camping.
Rest of the evening we tried to locate problem in Jeff´s bike. Engine just stopps without warning and then keeps ongoing again until next stop.
Unfortunately I did not had time to add many photos, but will create later a gallery where more photos will be visible.