6.08 - 6.14
So after 7 km of somewhat difficult cycling through no mans land, I pulled into Kyrgyzstan immigration/customs. The Kyrgyz immigration office was basically two trailers in the middle of nowhere.
"Do you speak Russian?" - Kyrgyz immigration officer
So a stamp was delivered and after registering in a few books, I was on my way. At the Chinese border I met Peter, a German cyclist who had been cycling the majority of his 52 years (some 100,000 km). He had just cycled through China some 3 months from Hong Kong, so we kept each other company while we enjoyed the beginning stretches of Kyrgyzstan. It was cold, the scenery was drastically different from the last few days in China. The Pamir range of Tajikistan came into view, which was absolutely breathtaking.
The last 4 days of China were mostly dry deserty mountains with every type of vegetation trying to stick into my skin and poke a hole in my tire. Now it was grassy rolling hills with white giants in the background. All of the road signs were now in Cyrillic (Russian), people were talking to me in Russian and I had absolutely no idea what they were saying (nothing new), I was indeed finally out of China. The road degraded from beautiful asphalt to noncompacted stones and gravel. I chose to bypass the majority of this washboard nightmare of a road and cycled mostly on the grassy plain that surrounded the road. The views were absolutely incredible
Finally standing on grass (Pamir Mountains in background)
We cycled until sunset and were waved into a house by an english speaking Kyrgyz girl. This was my first encounter with Kyrgyz people and their unprecedented hospitality. They cooked us diner, made us a bed of blankets on the floor and charged us absolutely nothing. I spent the night eating potatoes and naan, drinking chai and writing down Kyrgyz words to study while I cycled.
This is the house we stayed at
So I continued to Sary Tash, a beautiful town that connects Kyrgyzstan with Tajikistan. After a meal of 'Akaretchka' (Chicken in Russian) and Monteu (dumplings) I continued cycling towards Osh. The roads in Kyrgyzstan were much different than those in China. Most of the grades were a steep 12% and the roads were mostly dirt intermixed with rocks. The Chinese were rebuilding the road but were still a long way from completion. This was an epic day, the terrain turned into beautiful grassy rolling hills, the color green overwhelmed my sights. Kyrgyzstan has only been a country for some 19 years, previously part of the Soviet Union. Kyrgyz people are mostly semi-nomadic, like Tibetans, during the summer months they live in yurts high in the mountains to let their livestock graze on the endless grassy resources and in the winter they relocate to mud huts and houses in warmer areas. The average Kyrgyz person makes a whopping $300 per year. The population of Kyrgyzstan is said to be outnumbered 10 times in number by sheep, horses and donkeys. Kyrgyz kids are put on horses at early ages, I saw many kids who couldn't have been over 6 years old riding gigantic horses.
So I cycled some 250 km towards Osh, through some beautiful terrain. Along the road I was passed by a car with a Kyrgyz family on vacation in the mountainous region of Ali. They invited me to be a guest in their home if I was ever in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
You can get a good view of the butcher by sticking your head up a t-bone's butt....wait