Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Shortcut through the mountains to Bishkek

Day 77 - Friday 26th August - Kazarman - 260kms 

Finally we left Osh for the last time. We had spend way too much time in Osh two years ago, and this time again! 

We first took the main road to Jalal-Abad, although, as usual, the GPS took us through some shortcuts of its own! 

The shortcut ended  in a  near dead end. This bridge had collapsed and was closed to traffic. 

After further inspection we decided that it was solid enough for our light motorbikes. 
Alistair went first (he is the heaviest!) and I Followed quickly! 

Then, in Jalal-Abad, the GPS tried to take us through the wrong track. Fortunately, as we hesitated, an old man told us how to pick up the correct road to Kazarman.

Once on track we left town. The road out of town had new Tarmac, and the locals seemed to use half the width of that road  to dry sunflower seeds. 

Finally the Tarmac ended. The road was also less busy and we were able to relax a bit.

We started climbing into the mountains. The region is very dry.

We didn't  really cross any villages of significance during the day, few farmers here and there. 

One guy was guiding his cows by the side of the road. His very large and very aggressive dog ran after  Alistair and then tried to get me, his teeth just inches from my legs. I stopped  and gave  a superb mouthful to the farmer who found it funny. Moron! I wish I could have been able to taser his rabid dangerously aggressive dog. 

I am losing patience with dogs and crazy drivers now. I tend to give them my opinion using a very colourful language! 

And we climbed even more....

Eventually, in the evening, we arrived at Kazarman. My guide described the town as a poor, dusty bowl settlement with a reputation as a tough mining town, down on its luck. That's one way of describing it. 
I could think of other terms, but would be less flattering! Oops!

The GPS took us to a Bed and Breakfast. Well... It is how it was called. The place was a bit under construction. 

It had no running water so the toilet was the usual hole in the ground in the back of the courtyard, and they had a sort of shower: a plastic hut with a big bowl of water on top! 

After taking a  look at the kitchen, we decided we would  not have any dinner or food at the place. After our adventure in Osh we have decided to stick to processed food or biscuits, in places without running water! 

So we went in search of a shop. We found few. Each was so small it hardly had any food at all. One had two boxes of pot noodles left. After closer inspection, the expiry date was still to come. Once again, we have learned our lesson the very hard way about checking expiry dates! 

Back at the guesthouse, we sat inside the yurt that was used as a dining room. We asked for boiling water. The look of disapproval on the middle aged woman running the place was a story in itself! I shrugged, I did not fancy a trip to the hospital. 

The dining room had small jars of jam, uncovered,  sugar, bread and others foods in one table. And lots of flies around making the most of it! Nice!  
I have observed food covered in flies often enough to convinced me not to touch anything! Best to be avoided! 

We ate our chemical pot noodles. 

As there was nothing much to do, we had an early night and asked for breakfast at 7:30. 

Day 78 - Saturday 27th August - Kochkor - 310 kms

I was up and around very early. We packed everything and we were ready for breakfast at 7:30. We asked for green tea only but yesterday's bowl of bread and croissants were still there. The woman also brought some butter covered with sugar and unidentified stuff. Happy flies! 

After having our tea, we were ready to go. There are places, no matter how simple it is, you feel at ease. Some places are the opposite and you can not wait to leave. That place was one of those were I just want noted to get back on the road as quickly as possible! 

The first 80 kms out of Kazarman, we rode a very bad gravel road. It was also very busy as it joined to the main road to Naryn.

Eventually we took the turn toward the Moldo Ashuu pass.... No one but tourists would use it. We stopped at the turn off, near a derelict bus station, to have a drink and eat few peanuts.

Then it was time to negotiate the stunning pass. 

We met some cyclists on the way and we had a good chat with them. They were on a 3 years tour! 

The climb to the pass was spectacular. Shame we don't have good pictures of it! 

From the pass, we followed the gravel road to the Song Kul lake, another major tourist point. It is set at 3000 m altitude, and with the many yurt settlements and animals roaming free, it is a bit picture perfect! 

The road went along the lake and through another pass. 

We finally picked the main road to Bishkek. 

We arrived in Kochkor by late afternoon. 
We rode straight to the hotel Adamkaliy. We had been staying there one night, three weeks ago, on our way to Naryn. We had liked the place and the family was welcoming and friendly. 

The place was empty this time so we took a room with private bathroom! Luxury! 

It is funny how perception can change. After so much time in little places, Kochkor seemed almost like the height of civilisation! It had a mini market that  actually had stuff you wanted to buy, and aisles, so you can pick your stuff yourself , rather than ask someone over the counter and pointing ; it had a touristic cafe with a menu in English and food that would not cause too much problems to our stomach.... Civilisation! 

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