Endless searching for the right tires, shit under your boots because you visit the cattle market or during one of the many times you have to wait for crossing horses, cows or sheep, liquid dinner with fellow travelers and countless crashes with our motorbikes. Kyrgyzstan gave us many new experiences. The detour through Kazakhstan, where we slept in a whore hotel, makes the story about these two countries complete.
Sunday 3rd September 2017 Border Tajikistan – Sary-Tash (Kyrgyzstan)
After a smooth border crossing, where we pay 500 Som (6 EUR) road tax per person for our motorbikes, we enter our 19th country, Kyrgyzstan. The customs guard warns us of the bad roads towards the first town, a few days ago a motorist has broken his leg on this road. We have already survived quite some bad roads, but with his warning we drive extra carefully. At the same time we drive as hard as possible to the first town to stay ahead of a coming thunderstorm. Just in time, we arrive in Sary-Tash, a town with a gasoline pump, some guesthouses and donkeys and cows. We agree with guesthouse Muras (GPS 39.723967, 73.247015) where we bargained to have a 4-person room for the price of two. And for the first time since ages we have a good working Wi-Fi network! During our trip, we are ok without internet for a few days, much information is available offline with apps like I-Overlander or Maps.me. But some time our blogs and videos need to be updated.
It is cozy in the guesthouse, a couple on a tandem bicycle and a strange guy from France are staying here too. Just before dinner, Holger and Anja also arrive and ask if there is a room left. The guesthouse ladies offer their own room and sleep on the couch tonight. Later on our trip through Kyrgyzstan, we find out that it is very normal for the owners to rent their bedroom to travelers, the trade spirit is well presented in this country. We eat at the guesthouse with the whole group and drink a few beers.
Monday 4th September 2017 Sary-Tash – Osh
When we wake up and wait for breakfast we find out that another traveler has arrived last night. A happy boy from London has arrived just before midnight from Osh on a bicycle with the value of a few dollars. In recent months, he was backpacking in Asia, but after a good conversation with a friend, it seemed a good idea to ride a bicycle for the change of backpacking. His mate, however, has serious injuries, but nothing will stop him, so now he is alone cycling with his bike to Dushanbe. His back and ass hurt a bit, but with a happy smile he will undoubtedly reach his final destination. Nice to meet cyclists who do not travel on a bike with a value of a few thousand euros. After breakfast, we refill the bikes for less than a euro per liter. It was a long time ago that we had these cheap benzin. Continiously we leave for Osh. We drive over beautiful winding roads and tight asphalt, thinking back and forth about our short vacation in the Eifel and we arrive after about 3.5 hours in Osh.
We make a stop at MuzToo, originally a tour operator for motorcycle trips, but this company has become a major motorbike garage where many travelers buy tires and do maintenance. The number and variety of tires in stock shrunk sharply late in the season but what’s still present does not meet our requirements and is quite expensive comparable to the European market. After negotiation we can get two sets of tires (Shinko E700) for € 490 while we would only have paid € 200 in the Netherlands. Our major drawback is that for larger motorbikes (with comparatively larger tire sizes than usual) quality tires are hard to find in the upcoming approximately 10,000 km. So we have almost no choice. We close the deal and drive to our guesthouse. We check in at Lovely Home For You Guesthouse and forget about the bad deal. In this guesthouse we have a large room and kitchen at our disposal, we can finally make a stew! A little later Holger and Anja also arrive. The dorm and third bedroom are not occupied, which means we are only with the four of us. Only the owner is present and behaves apathetic behind her laptop. With the four of us, we do groceries at the bazaar, a large covered market that we actually know and see everywhere since Iran. You can buy everything on these kind of bazaar; cow eyes, baby clothes. We buy vegetables and fruit and even find a big liquid store where we buy red wine and according to the seller we may drink it in his shop. We kindly thank him for his offer and walk back to the guesthouse through the big fairground in the park. We make a kind of Flemish stew with eggplant and potato and sip happy of our red wine. Life is good on the road.
Tuesday 5th September 2017 Osh
After a long sleep we make our own breakfast with coffee in the kitchen. Today Bertha works on the blog and Erik tries to exchange dollars in the city. But changing money seems to be more difficult than thought. In most countries, we are constantly pulled at our arms at the bazaar or people yell at us to change money. Here in Osh everyone just sends us to the bank. After endless searching, Erik finds an ATM that does not spit out the debit card and withdraws enough money for two weeks in Kyrgyzstan. Time flies and while Bertha is sweating because of the blog, Erik prepares a great stew with sausages in the kitchen! In advance we enjoy a cooking beer with Holger and Anja. The whole evening we enjoy our wines and finally we go late to bed.
Wednesday 6th September 2017 Osh
We wake up with the smell of freshly baked bread. Anja has baked a delicious white bread in the oven and we can taste some slices. Made with love, eaten with love. After breakfast Bertha continues on the blog and Erik brings the first motorbike to the carwash. For 50 Som (0,60 EUR) and with use of gestures, he may handle the high-pressure syringe himself. The motorbikes have become dusty after a few days offroad. A clean bike does not only look more beautiful, but is also better for all rotating parts. After the wash, Erik checks all the screws and bolts of the bikes, some of them are quite loose. It’s normal, the whole bike was shaking when we drove the Pamir Highway.
In the kitchen Bertha and Anja have prepared a delicious pizza with fresh products like tomato, salami and onions. Together with a good glass of wine, we enjoy our peace here, while the owner still sits apathetic behind her laptop while she is watching us every minute.
Thursday 7th September 2017 Osh
Running in Osh turns out to be popular. Bertha went for a run this morning along the river, towards the Lenin statue and back again. This hour she sees over 100 athletes, mostly men and soldiers, running. Running on this 1000 meter high altitude while it is still raising is a challenge, but it feels great to practice again after such a long time. When Bertha returns, Erik has been to the toilet three times, the traveler’s disease is present again. Erik stays in bed while Bertha books an extra night in the guesthouse. Now she cannot be disturbed by Erik while she translates the last part of the blog and puts it online. In the afternoon, Erik is feeling better and tries to find other dealers with better and cheaper tires. Through various Facebook contacts, he first contacts the president of the motorcycle club Pakistan who could arrange tires. The rear tire is just another size and the quality / lifetime of the tires is unknown. Then he finds out that there is a KTM dealer in Almaty (Kazakhstan) that appears to have tires. In addition, it provides a much better price than Muztoo’s offer in Osh. Almaty is not far from Osh and for Dutch people there is no visa requirement. After a short chat, we decide to change our planned route and drive through Almaty to do a tire change overthere. In the kitchen we make a delicious pasta with fresh vegetables and drink green tea, today no alcohol!
Friday 8th September 2017 Osh – Toktogul
After breakfast with fresh bread from Anja and Holger we leave on our clean motorbikes towards Toktogul. Before we leave the city, we first refuel the bikes, a special experience. It’s not like in the Netherlands first fill and then pay, but the exact opposite. You pay an x amount after which you can refuel. If you have paid too less, you have to pay again after you can refuel again. Fortunately, you get change when you pay too much, but we found out about this a few days later.
The view while driving is beautiful and we often forget our speedometers. Not smart in this country, behind every tree in a 60km / h area there is an agent with a laser gun. And so, for the first time, we have to stop and pay for a speed of about 80 km / h. We are stopped with the bikes while all the other cars overtake us with 100km / h. The agent’s assistant speaks English first, but when he finds out that we do not want to pay, he suddenly acts like he is crazy and deaf. The agent is quite aggressive and when we decide to leave after long negotiations we even have the idea that he grabs his weapon! Erik decides to go back to the police car. The fine of 150 USD can be dropped to 50 USD and so we can finally drive further. Later we find out that it is better not to stop for police. After all, the police can not read and register our license plates with their laser guns. To give your driving license and passport to the police is not recommended in this country by fellow travellers. Once when the police has got these documents you are obliged to pay to get the documents back.
After we have paid the fine, we lunch in a road restaurant with the dirtyest toilet so far! The heap of shit is almost higher than the toilet, we must use our motorcycle buffs as a dust mask to not fall unconsciously into the hole. Let’s ride on!
In Toktogul, a small village, we find the little Guesthouse Kaghan where a just as little old female runs the place. She does not speak English but she is glad to rent us the triple room for no more than € 14 including breakfast and a closed car park. After a great shower, we look for a restaurant in the town where we are surprised by the local dish.
Saturday 9th September 2017 Toktogul – Bishkek
After breakfast, we drive through the mountains towards Bishkek. After climbing 30 kilometers, we decide to return to a gas station, because we are not sure whether we will have another chance in the mountains to refuel. After this little delay, we stop again after 30 kilometers, now to pull our inner lining. It starts to get pretty cold and we have to dress warm for the pass of 3586 meters. We quickly drive uphill and the mountains get a red colour. It is great to do a world trip on our motorbikes! Just before the pass we have to wait for a red traffic light in front of a tunnel described as dangerous on the I-Overlander app, especially dangerous for cyclists. We pass a long line of waiting cars and lorries and put our motorbikes in front. We are an interesting distraction for the waiting Kyrgyz people who are bored to smoke or grap their balls. The motorbike is frequently touched, pushed and admired. When Erik asks a man to get his hands off the bike, the man asks Erik why there is a problem. But when he leaves the bike, a new car arrives in front of the tunnel. The surrounding men clearly disagree with this. Nearly a fight is created. After pushing and pulling, the car decides to go back in line. And then we suddenly may drive! Everyone is driving like idiots. Despite two-way traffic, we are overtaken in the dark tunnel on the left and right side. We try to breath in the low-oxygen tunnel like a fish. When we finally arrive outside and drive back down through many hairpin curves, we are still overtaken by many kamikazepilots across all sides. This is definitely the most stressfull road in Kyrgyzstan!
After this wild adventure we arrive in Bishkek where we fill a tiny room with our luggage in Tunduk hostel. After a deserved shower, we eat a too hot meal in a Korean restaurant, Erik’s forehead is sweating!
Sunday 10th September 2017 Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) – Almaty (Kazakhstan)
We are the first people who attend the breakfast, which seems to be for two people but which must feed the whole hostel. After breakfast we discover that Claudia and Bernd are also in this hostel. This couple is in the same China group. After a short conversation we leave the hostel on our motorbikes towards the border crossing, today to Kazakhstan! Through a beautiful landscape with a lot of agriculture (it almost looks like the Dutch polder!) we arrive quite soon at the border crossing. We have crossed borders that took 4 hours, but today everything goes in less than 10 minutes, with a happy smile and a wink to Bertha! Before we recognize, we are standing in Kazakstan without having paid one Tenge. It would be great if all border crossings were this easy! With a big smile we drive through the meadows towards Almaty, meanwhile we wave to all the cheerful Kazakh residents. Apparently in this country almost all cars have their lights on, which is something we have not seen for a long time since we left Europe.
After about two hours driving between the cornfields we arrive in Almaty, a city with candle-lined streets and traffic everywhere. We are completely stuck and get black from all exhaust gases. Kazakhstan is 44 times as large as the Netherlands, but has as many inhabitants. Almaty is not even the capital of the country, but has almost twice as many inhabitants as Amsterdam. Most inhabitants of the country can be found in the big cities.
The hotel turns out to be a bit of a mistake, it is located outside the citycenter. Upon check-in we find out that you can also rent rooms for an hour, the man checking in next to us takes his scarily dressed girlfriend into the elevator. However, the hotel is not bad, we have a big room and a lovely big shower. After we have dressed up, we order a taxi and go to the city to eat delicious food at a highly rated restaurant on Tripadvisor. During the taxi ride we see a McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King! We have not seen those American companies for a long time, probably not since Turkey. In the Netherland, McDonalds is hangover food for us, we do not go there usually, but now it possible … we put the McDonalds in our GPS and decide to come back later!
After dinner, we drive back to the hotel by taxi, make some arguments about the meter price and play billiards in the extinct neighboring hotel for an hour before we go to bed.
Monday 11th September 2017 Almaty
We get up early, today we have an appointment with Mister Orange for new tires! After a long wait we get a nice breakfast downstairs in the lobby and we leave on our motorbikes to the KTM dealer. We are welcomed by a bored seller who does not understand why we visit this place. From Osh we made a reservation for two Heidenau Scout front tires and two Mitas rear tires three days ago. We walk to the tire department and without a muscle, the F-seller tells us that he has only one Heidenau front tire in stock and not two. Are we coming here all the way to Almaty for this?! After Erik gets some color on his face and his muscles are relaxed again, we let him know how we think about the situation and have a look in the stock to find another front tire. After finding a Shinko front tire, the seller indicates that they do not change tires here, but maybe 20km ahead, there is someone who can help us. Again Erik is steaming and almost starts a fight, but Bertha keeps the head cool and walks to the adjacent motorbike garage. We are assisted by the chief engineer who speaks fluent English and he advises us on the right choice for the front tire and he also likes to help us to change the tires today! We leave the motorbikes behind and go into the city on our bike boots, at the end of the day we can pick up the motorbikes again.
Unfortunately, the Almaty Green Bazaar is closed, so we have to go on foot to our next tourist attraction. In the nearby Panfilov Park, we visit various memorials of the civil war (1917-1920), World War II (1941-1945) and soldiers who died during the war in Afghanistan. After that we take a look at the Zenkov Orthodox Cathedral. Here in Almaty, and especially around churches, we see many swords. Also many young men who probably do not buy bread with the money.
Suddenly the McDonalds appears in front of us. We must take this chance! We order a milkshake and a hamburger, but as always at McDonalds, after a few minutes we are already sorry. We have not missed this food in recent months, we have tasted much better food!
After visiting the yellow M we continue to the cable car (Kok Tobe) and float over the highway to the statue of the Beatles. This statue was set in 2007 on the initiative of the Beatles fans of this city. It would be the only statue in the world where the members are complete and in real size. During the photo shoot, Bertha is sitting on the top of the couch which is forbidden. The guard wakes up out of his summer sleep! No No No !!! With a smile we are posing for a slightly brave picture.
After our Beatles adventure we find a taxi that brings us back to Mister Orange where our motorbikes are already standing outside with brand new tires. We thank the mechanics for their good service, give the tire dealer an evil eye and and pull a rubber stripe on the parking lot!
On our new tires, we drive uphill towards the Medeu ice skating complex, famous for skaters because of the many records that were broken here. The complex is located in the middle of the mountains at 1691 meters altitude, making it one of the highest skating rinks in the world. Due to its special location in the Medeu valley, under certain circumstances, backwind can occur throughout the entire round. From 1951 to 1980 this was the fastest race rink in the world. Also the Dutch people won medals, Atje Keulen-Deelstra achieved the first place here in 1974 at European Championship woman all-round. The cableway that goes over the skate rink is unfortunately closed but we can still have a look on the ‘ice’. Bertha takes her chance and joins the peloton!
Bertha exchanges her ice skates for her motor boots and together we drive to Almaty’s hardrock cafe, where all the cool bikers go! But what an outdated concept is that! We are the only bikers, there is no life music and for two beers and a cheese platter we pay even more than a round of beers in Amsterdam! We quickly drink the beer (alcohol free …) and drive to another restaurant with regional dishes. A much nicer atmosphere and prices are normal again. After we have finisted the diner, we drive back to our hotel in the dark.
In the other Stan countries, we have not seen any motorcyclist with Western big motorbikes. Now in Almaty we see big bikes all day long, but on the way back to the hotel, it’s one step further. Suddenly we are overtaken from the right by two fast motorbikers at about 150 km / h which drive crisscross between the cars, followed by two pimped racing cars. We witness a street race across the city! Wow!
Tuesday 12th September 2017 Almaty – Kegen
When we want to check out, the management has to check our hotel room before we may leave. We are waiting in the garage as we still have to put our luggage on our motorbikes, but we do not see the management again. When we want to leave, Bertha finds out that her rear wheel is not well adjusted. In front of the hotel we remove all luggage to adjust the chain and the rear wheel. After adjusting and measuring, the rear wheel and the chain are good again and we leave the hotel behind us. The Mitas rear tires are nice and it gives a good feeling that we start our China adventure with new tires.
Through a gravel road of about 10 km, we drive into Charyn Canyon, the second largest canyon after the Grand Canyon, where we try to pay an entrance fee of $ 5. Try because the wind blows that hard that it is almost impossible to stand still with our motorbikes or to reach the office. We feel the sand everywhere! Ultimately, we make it until the office and drive into the Canyon.
According to the map, there must be somewhere a Yurt Camp where we want to sleep, but after a windy road, we reach a dead end where a sign warns us: “Dangerous for life !!” We decide to return and park the bikes behind a tourist bus out of the wind and continue on foot. The canyon is beautiful but it’s hard to enjoy because the wind blows so hard. After a flash visit, we are blown back to the bikes and drive back across a the washboard road to the highway.
We change our plans and decide to go towards the border to find a hotel right there. The temperature is now at the freezing point and we can not find a hotel in the few villages. The last village appears to have a open hotel. At the front a cafe with a decent entrance fee, but at the rear an old property that appears to be a hotel, Hotel Inside OK (GPS: 43.014863, 79.236324). When Bertha enters, she interferes with three old men who appear to be busy with their card game. However, after some mocking we get a hotel room with two separate beds.
We take the room and leave in our motorsuits to look for some food. In the village we eat a simple chicken- with rice dish and we buy a bag of chips and a bottle of vodka in the shop. Strong liquor is even cheaper than a bottle of coke and warms up the body!
Back in the hotel room we start a movie, sip straight out of the bottle and slowly warm up. When the movie is almost finished, the old owner knocks on the door with additional warm blankets and we see more guests behind him. In the short while we sat on the bed, the hotel was flooded with guests! The adjacent ‘disco’ with VIP rooms is open now and we decide to dance too! Everyone is dancing on the dance floor in their Sunday chill outfit, we do not stand out in our motorbike suits!
Wednesday 13th September 2017 Kegen (Kazakhstan) – Karakol (Kyrgyzstan)
With a slight hangover and shaking hands we make a breakfast ready in our hotel room and dress up again warmly.
Through a beautiful mountain route, where we often have to stop for crossing horses, we reach the border crossing. Even now, the border crossing is almost an European affair, we are laughing a little and a while later we are back in Kyrgyzstan. We continue through the now-known landscape and have a lunch in the middle of the cornfields.
When we enter Karakol we stop at a tourist office where we get information about hiking in the area and trekkings on a horse. We also buy a hiking map that we will not use and present to other hikers later in Hostel Nice. In the hostel all double rooms are occupied, but we can set up the tent in the garden. We choose a beautiful place between the apple and pear trees and decide to stay for three nights. In the supermarket we buy fresh vegetables, cheese and of course a snickers for the way back to the hostel. There we wash our clothes while Bertha starts to feel increasingly bad. The aftermath of our party at Inside Oké Hotel! When we lie in the tent at night, it turns out to be cold, we snuggle up the sleeping bags and fall asleep into each other’s arms.
Thursday 14th September 2017 Karakol
In the big kitchen, we make a delicious omelette with coffee and tea, after which we drive full of energy on our motorbikes towards Jeti-Oguz, a seven-pointed red mountain that appears in the middle of nowhere.
After a short drive over the highway, we need to continue over the sand and gravel roads, meanwhile we are used to a bit of offroad driving. We park the bikes in the woods between the horses, dress up and walk at ease to a waterfall. Bertha has some startup problems or difficulties with the height but after a while we walk together in a beautiful landscape.
Arriving at the waterfall we see that it has been dry for a long period of time, a small stream of water from the mountain drops down. The water that comes down is cold. Erik builds a small dam like his father always does, while Bertha prepares the lunch on a rock. The apples we picked around our tent taste delicious!
Back in the town we buy two warm hats for our upcoming adventure and vegetable for dinner. Erik makes a delicious cauliflower curry dish while Bertha explains to an Englishman why we like to cook ourselves. He looks at her with a non-understanding head and slurps his noodles. He is too lazy to cook himself and “enjoys” his ready-made noodles. Later we find out that he is volunteering at the Hostel, and that the only thing he does is drinking tea and eating noodles. A strange guy. After dinner we play Qwixx, with a remise we fall asleep. It’s a little cold but we have borrowed an extra blanket from the hostel.
Friday 15th September 2017 Karakol
We sleep a long time, getting up at 08.00 and heading for a self organised city tour through Karakol. We visit a wooden mosque which is unfortunately closed because it needs to be vacuumed, but we laugh at Bertha’s clothes. In Iran she used to dress up more charming!
After visiting the mosque, Bertha decided to go to the hairdresser to cut the dead ends. A bad decision, the hairdresser cuts wildly and destroys the beautiful long hair! Bertha and Erik’s desperate attempts to stop her cutting have no immediate effect, Bertha leaves the hairdressing salon deeply unhappy and cries some tears. Even the brownie and a good cup of coffee in the cafe around the corner brought no smile on her face. If you want to have adventure, then you get adventure!
The visit to the Holy Trinity Cathedral with the local young sworders is not very special, so we decide to visit the local zoo. The entrance is a few Euro cents and we soon notice that this is not so strange. The zoo is quite outdated, the animals have to life in small boxes. A bear walks lonely past the fence, the wolves look around bored and the lonely lion hardly needs to receive a visit from a female lion. The educational value of a zoo is important for children, but for us this visit to the zoo is a little sad. After the misery of the hairdresser it is not really a booster.
Back in the hostel, Bertha makes delicious Dutch Wentelteefjes (French Toast) while Erik edits a movie.
After we have finished the last laundry we go out for dinner, pizza! We found a place where the pizza should be good, and sure he was! Lovely Pizza is a restaurant with two girls in the kitchen who know how to make a pizza. Delicious!
Saturday 16th September 2017 Karakol – Kochkor
We get up early so Erik can upload Iran’s video without other people using the network. And after a quick 10 minutes the movie is finally online! A little Eureka moment !!
We eat a yogurt and jump on our motorbikes to the next village. With beautiful views of Issyk Kul Lake and snowy mountains, it is a great drive today. We choose a shortcut which also gives us a view of the Orto Tokoy Reservoir. Kyrgyzstan is truly a paradise for motorcyclists!
When we enter the small town of Kochkor we visit the CBT tour organization. A bored man tells us how to spend a couple of days riding through the mountains. If we want a better price, we have to come back later, then there are more tourists who want to rent a horse. We doubt a little but decide to come back at six. There is already a German couple waiting who also plan to do the tour, they look nice and with a larger group we could lower the price per person.
When we arrive back just before closing time, there is also an Israeli man, in addition to the German couple. He is shouting and crying out loudly and says that he is the best negotiator. However, a little later we booked a tour for 6 people, three days on the way of which two on a horse! Bertha has driven a horse before, but for Erik it is a completely new experience! We walk back to our Guesthouse Nur where we sleep and where we could leave our motorbikes and luggage the coming days.
Sunday 17th September 2017 Kochkor – Song Kol Lake
We get up early, let’s go horse riding!! We get a delicious breakfast from the hostess, after which we walk towards the meeting point in the citycenter. The busy Israeli is already there with his girlfriend. Despite the temperatures just above the freezing point, she is shining in a short navy shirt. Together they bounce through the room like a skippy ball. This will be fun! By bus we leave for a small village where we gather for lunch.
We have a fluent English speaking (female) guide who talks a lot about local uses. However, we do not get any explanation about the horse riding itself. Outside we are put on a horse and just have to see how it is going. The horses are quite easy and walk their familiar path, but if you have never driven a horse before it’s a bit scary.
Nevertheless, it is going smooth at first, and we are soon out of town and climb uphill to the pass of 3100 meters. In the mountains we start to enjoy the horse riding, in a quiet pase we ride uphill and we enjoy the beautiful view.
When we are at the highest point, we all get off the horses, dress warmly and can go for a pee right behind a rock. The two horses with luggage shed down on the spot. They are so tired of wearing all luggage. We only took a little bag, but some tourists have taken all their luggage, the Israeli couple even brought a tent and food. They did not want to sleep in a Yurt because of the costs.
When the horses eventually get the whip they rise again and slowly walk downhill towards our first night of rest. We sleep tonight in a Yurt, overlooking Song Kol Lake!
Together with the German couple we eat delicious fish out of the lake and enjoy the surroundings. The first day is very good, we even feel like a real rider!
We sleep with 5 men in a Yurt where it is pretty cold, this time no stove fuelled by yak-shit or shank of a sheep. The horseman (who cares for the horses) also sleeps in the yurt and snores peacefully when we go to bed. Especially Erik’s blankets smell a lot like horseback riding and probably many other tourists. Still, we finally sleep well and long.
Monday 18th September 2017 Song Kol Lake
We have breakfast at 08:00 in the Yurt after which we leave with our horses around 0900. Today we ride along the lake, it’s still pretty cold, but with our motorbike suits on it’s all right. Erik’s horse reacts a lot better than yesterday, presumably because now he has a whip. Two strokes is enough to make the horse listen better and even to go faster! Bertha’s horse is so compassionate and always follows Erik’s horse, even when he goes faster! We are laughing at a slightly higher speed along the lake! Now horse riding is really cool!
At lunchtime we arrive at the next Yurt Camp where we will also stay overnight. We have a delicious lunch with fish and salad and in the afternoon we are free to do what we want and to enjoy the surroundings.
We walk together with the German couple and a kitten in Erik’s arms into a mountain where we chat on a picnic dress all afternoon. We actually wanted to ride a horse in the afternoon, but now we are sitting in the mountains we enjoy the nice time.
After dinner, we chat for a long time with the girl and her mother while we are drinking tea. The girl speaks German very well which results in conversations with a mixture of German, English and Kyrgyz. When we go into the yurt to sleep we notice that it is warmed up. Luckily we have a stove!
Tuesday 19th September 2017 Song Kol Lake – Kochkor
When we go out early in the morning to pee, we step almost in vomid. The German girl got sick last night and did not reached the toilet in time. She is not in for breakfast this morning and she is still pretty weak and suspects that she can have some struggles today. The last day we have to hike along the lake towards the last gathering point. Fortunately, today we will not be irritated by the Israeli couple, who decided to go back on a horse yesterday afternoon. We decide to carry the German girl’s luggage, Erik wears her backpack and a small bag. Bertha wears our heaviest backpack and so we start our hike.
The German couple soon gets behind, but we decide to walk on to hopefully send a taxi to them later. We walk the approximately 20 kilometers, instead of the 10 kilometer indicated by the travel agency, and we arrive at 1 o’clock at the meeting place. Bertha convinces the taxi driver to drive back and pick up the German couple, otherwise the group will not be complete before the end of the day! Looking along the lake we are talking to various yurts to ask if the couple is hiding here. Then suddenly we see the girl in the back of an Australian motorcycle rider. We thank the motorcycle driver for his help and drive back to the place where he picked her up to pick up her boyfriend and their luggage. They are very happy that we have helped and drive back to the gathering point where Erik is still waiting.
The way back to Kochkor is a crazy ride on bad roads. The ride is so wild that Bertha suddenly has a hole in her motorcycle pants! When we arrive, not only is the German girl sick but everyone is weak and sick of the taxi ride.
We say goodbye to each other and walk to the bazaar to see if someone can make Bertha’s pants. There is one sewing studio open. For a few cents the pants is as new again!
When we arrive at our guesthouse our motorbikes are still there but we have another room. Now unfortunately two separate beds, but again a hot shower! We dress up and go for a dinner in the village. Here we also meet the Swedish sporty couple Marcus and Linda, whom we had previously met in Murghab. They cycle faster than we drive by motorbike! It is a pleasant company and with a broad smile we spend the rest of the evening in the restaurant.
Wednesday 20th September 2017 Kochkor – VIP hotel Lepota
It’s still early when we get pancakes and an omelet from the older lady. It tastes delicious and with a full stomach we leave the guesthouse, luckily again with some more horsepower! It is quite cold this morning and shivering we drive towards Arslanbob.
At Aral we decide to take the shortest road that is still under construction but on the reference boards. The first part is about brand new asphalt and we enjoy the beautiful scenery! This route is almost more beautiful than the Pamir Highway! But slowly the road is getting worse, first we have a gravel road that is laid tight but later we only have sand and stones. When Erik takes a picture and drives around the corner, he sees Bertha with the motorbike on the ground. Bertha crashed her motorbike in a sharp curve and turned the bike 180 degrees. Fortunately, Bertha is still ok and we arise the bike back again quickly. The bike is still alright, but one pannier has been struck off.
We decide to also have lunch on this crash site and think about the route. It must be that we can drive further, right? And so we decide to drive further, which turns out to be not really wise. The road becomes worse every meter and now we are rising extensively. The width is no more than 2 meters, and we only drive over stones and rocks until we eventually reach the excavators that have to dig the road for the most part. We decide that this is too dangerous and unfortunately we have to drive back all the way.
After two hours of driving we arrive at a turn that we can take according to our navigation. But also this turns out to be not a wise decision. There is no deep ravine here, but here the road is steeper and again full of stones and rocks. When we try to drive back, Bertha falls again. With the two of us we cannot rise the motorbike because it is laying against the mountain slope, but fortunately, we are quickly helped by a guy that drives by. What must he have thought: “what are those people doing here on a motorbike”?!
After long struggles we meet again at the junction where we were 5 hours earlier and where we also meet disappointed cyclists. They have gone by the bike even further than us, but have finally decided to turn their bicycles. The route was beautiful, the road impossible!
We have lost so much time that we need to adjust our plan and have to stay somewhere halfway through the route. After another 50km and 2.5 hours off road, a road that is in fact shown as a highway on the map, we are on the tarmac M-02 highway. Just before the dark we find the VIP hotel (GPS: 42.234477, 73, 743999)! An unforgettable truckers hotel located directly on the highway with a supermarket (with drinks of course) and folded beds. But with a closed garage and hot water! We check in while it is already dark outside and eat a decent meal with our last cash in the adjacent restaurant. After the many gravel roads we are completely exhausted and fall asleep.
Thursday 21st September 2017 VIP hotel Lepota – Arslanbob
At 5 o’clock we wake up because of the engines outside, the car park in front of the hotel is fully filled with lorries. The shopkeeper and hotel owner must have done good business tonight!
When we want to pick up our motorbikes, the owner is not awake yet. We find his keys at the hotel and “break in” at the store to get our bikes out of the garage. When we are ready to leave, he arrives outside half asleep. He laughs a bit and does not look strange that we have already picked up our bikes and waves at us when we leave.
With our last money, we refuel the motorbikes and drive to the first city of Toktogul to withdraw money. We watch our speed, but the environment also demands attention. Suddenly we see police standing in the shade of the trees, but it’s too late and we are get stopped by the police. Bertha will have the chat this time and pretends she’s sick. But the agent is not impressed, pointing to the bunches where she can surrender and says we have to pay. Meanwhile, Erik finds out that many people who are called by the police are just passing by and he thinks we should do this next time. The agent begins to call and when his attention is more at his cellphone than at Bertha, she takes her opportunity. Soon she walks back to the bikes and together we decide to drive away as fast as possible. The agent yells something and blows on his whistle but does not make any efforts to take action. We swing the throttle and and leave the police behind us. The first few kilometres we often have a look in our mirrors to not be followed, but after a while we are relaxed and happy with our kamikaze reaction. We can enjoy the surroundings again!
Between the mountains and along the blue waters we reach the village of Arslanbob, mainly Muslim-oriented but famous for the walnut forest. We got a tip from a fellow traveler and after a while we find the cute Guesthouse Number 12 with fantastic views over the valley. We decide not to do the hike of two hours to the viewpoint, this is already beautiful enough.
To have dinner in town is not a good choice, everything closes at 1800 o’clock and alcohol is not sold. Together with a French couple, from which we receive one glass of wine, and a German traveler, we eat a Kyrgyz meal at the Guesthouse.
Friday 22nd September 2017 Arslanbob – Osh
At 8 o’clock everyone is ready for breakfast, we eat watermelon, omelette and bread with homemade jams. Of course with tea, everywhere and everything with tea. When everyone has taken a picture of us and the motorbikes we drive back across the narrow and steep streets to Osh. Before we enter the city, we first clean our bikes, mainly to remove the loose sand and dust. After the motorbike wash, we drive clean towards Guesthouse Lovely Home For You, where we have slept before. Here we want to rest, wash our motorbike suits and ordinary clothes and clean the motorbikes. Unfortunately, this time the guesthouse has been fully booked. Especially Spanish cyclists have occupied our place at the table outside, and the kitchen is completely seized. But at least we have the same room. We take a shower with our motorbike suits to get rid of all the dust and mud. That we have not caused a sewage can be called a miracle! When we walk toward the supermarket we meet Paul with a German guy, they go out for dinner. We decide to join them but first we do some groceries.
When we come back and find Paul in the restaurant after a while, we find him sitting at a table full of travelers. Also the constant fuck-female woman from Germany is at the table, one of the strangest people we have met up to now. We ask her to her destination: Almaty. Surprisingly, we say that we enjoyed it enormously for three days and that we have been along the McDonalds. While she uses bad words she says that she wants to spend no more than one night in that dirty big city and finds it incomprehensible that we have been to that American fucking fast food chain. We wonder if there is something in this world that she does like. Either way, the food in the current restaurant tastes delicious and we still fit exactly within our budget for cash we have on our pocket. The whole group seems to sleep in Tess Hostel and we split up. The German f-woman had already left before, because she did not allow people to eat meat and to smoke cigarettes. We walk back to our Guesthouse where we fall asleep after a glass of red wine.
Saturday 23rd September 2017 Osh
While Erik is still sleeping, Bertha runs through the almost familiar park. After breakfast and doing some laundry, we head for the Bazaar. We need to buy new underwear. Erik needs some boxershorts and Bertha needs some new strings, because the old ones could be better used as shoelaces. Underwear for Erik has been found soon, but strings for Bertha is another story. Everywhere we see underpants but simple strings are nowhere to be found and sexy strings with a lot of lace and meticulous fabrics do not hold it for a long time on the motorbike. After a long search we finally find a perfect match, everyone happy 🙂
After a short afternoon break we go to hostel Tess, where we will meet Karin and Dave. Bertha has been in touch with Karin frequently for tips during our trip. They travel about the same route, but travel for about a month in front of us, and we also go with them in the same group through China. The hostel is filled with people we know, Holger & Anja, Paul and Bas are all in this hostel. Bas his parents have also arrived and offer us Dutch drop! Delicious to taste after a while without having drop! With Karin and Dave it is cozy right away and we hardly have enough bottles of beer. We skip dinner and empty our food stock of chips and salami, because we can not take any food into China. A little tipsy we go back to our guesthouse late in the night.
Sunday 24th September 2017 Osh – Sary-Tash
We wake up late, today everything will go a little slower. Perhaps because of the liquid dinner of yesterday, but also because we have enough time to drive to Sary-Tash, the China-group-meeting-point. After we left Osh, we visited the cattle market on the edge of the city that is held every Sunday (GPS: 40.538594, 72.856912). Cows, horses, sheep, goats and donkeys. Everything on top of each other, next to each other and everywhere people negotiate (with their hands)to buy an animal.
It’s not like in the Netherlands, here we see shit everywhere and here we see people running behind unleashed sheep. A wonderful experience, though, it is sometimes a bit sad for us as westerners to see.
In the cold we drive towards Sary-Tash where we sleep again in the same Guesthouse Muras.
All motorbikes entering China are parked here too, a real motorhouse this time!
After dinner we go together to another guesthouse where the owners of the three cars of our China group sleep. At a large table we get to know eachother and finish our last bit of wine before we enter China. A nice group together, although it will be difficult to travel with a group. Through the snow we walk back to our Guesthouse and go to sleep early. Tomorrow the great China adventure is waiting for us and we have to leave early!
Monday 25th September 2017 Osh – Border China
We get up early because Bertha has put us on the shower schedule first. We slowly leave the room to not wake the other sleepers and pull our motorbike suits on after the shower. We agreed to drive to the border in one peloton. Should someone or a motorbike have some problems, we can jointly solve them. We find it challenging but great to drive to the Chinese border with seven motorcyclists. During the first checkpoint, Karin’s motorbike falls on the ground because of the wind, but after a bit of struggling with the steering wheel everything is right and we drive further. At the first Chinese border post, the long waiting starts and this is only the beginning!!