Etape 798. Bishkek - Mynkazan. 96 kms.
Etape 799. Mynkazan ‚Äď Taraz (+voiture env 70km). 75 kms.
Etape 800. Taraz - Shakpakbaba. 80 kms.
Etape 801. Shakpakbaba - Shymkent. 95 kms.
Etape 802. Shymkent ‚Äď Tashkent (+voiture env 80km). 33 kms.
Etape 803. Tashkent - Daehqonobod. 84 kms.
Etape 804. Daehqonobod - Jizzax. 130 kms.
Etape 805. Jizzax - Samarcande. 106 kms.
I stayed two weeks in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, to request and obtain the Iranian and Uzbek visas, spending the days doing web development on the computer, playing tennis table and drinking beer with other travelers from the "friends guest house". There were a lot of bike travelers and a lot of French travelers with stories all the more beautiful and each other. The hostel was ideally located next to the big bazaar of the city. In Central Asia, the bazaars are huge permanent external markets covered by open metal structures, in which one finds everything. The Bishkek Bazaar was beautiful, huge, and the prices incredibly low. For example, raspberries and strawberries were at 1.2 euros per kilo, which is 10 times less expensive than in France for raspberries. It was good because I love raspberries! I bought every day 500 grams of raspberries, 500 grams of strawberries and a small jar of cream and I ate from morning till night mixtures of fresh red fruits crushed in cream and powdered sugar. After Bishkek, I continued the route westward, not eastward to Japan as originally planned, since China has not issued tourist visas since this year from its Central Asian embassies, and Russian tourist visa can only be requested from France. I chose a route to return to Iran and continue to explore this beautiful country, see the main tourist spots that I missed while crossing the north in July, before taking a ferry to Dubai and a flight to the France before christmas. As in July, I did not apply for the Turkmen visa, at the end very uncertain for a transit visa of only 5 days. I preferred to make a long detour to reach Iran via Azerbaijan after a ferry on the Caspian Sea from Kazakhstan. The road to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan made me spend 5 days in southern Kazakhstan, the landscapes consisted of huge plains with low grass and dry, a view of the mountains to the south, and always a few meetings interesting with locals. I went twice in cars that offered me to advance a few kilometers for various reasons (rain and cold, road forbidden for cyclists) and one night I was also invited to sleep in a hotel in renovation held by very nice workers who offered me food and a bed. They offered me lots of glasses of vodka, in this country you have to be careful never to have the empty glass or they fill it up right away and you can get drunk. They take vodka with fresh vegetables or bread dipped in a spicy tomato sauce, it's interesting and good. I then crossed the Uzbek border, its Tashkent capital, and traveled to the very touristy Samarkand, a major milestone of the Silk Road, and therefore very rich with beautiful buildings from the 1400/1500/1600 years. It was difficult to find places to camp because of intensive agriculture (cotton) irrigation, low-lying plains and urbanization. One night, as I was crossing a security fence to pitch my tent down the road, I was caught by a policeman who told me that I could not sleep there and found someone one to house me in the next village.
Another very nice guy who gave me everything, I will keep his reflection identical to that of Kazakh workers a few days earlier: "In the US, there are mass killings and hurricanes, in Japan there are hearthquakes, in Asia there are tsunamis, in Europe there are migrants, in France and there is terrorism, in africa there is ISIS: we in Uzbekistan, we never have any problem. They are proud of their boxers who reported Rio's Olympic medals, their chess champions, and live happily with few money. Tthen I went on my way, and my arrival at nightfall on the Samarkand ring road was stopped by a policeman crossing the road, to confiscate my camera when I had just photographed a huge sign with the word Samarcande on it. He told me that it was forbidden to take this sign in photo and that I could only photograph the next sign, which a pedestrian confided to me The policeman summoned his colleague and then began to talk to me about dollars and jail, drawing bars with his fingers and mimicking a key that turns in a lock to make himself understood, his level of English being lower than my Russian level, itself very close to the zero level. Send me to jail for a photo of Samarkand, a tourist city par excellence, when I had a tourist visa in order? The embarrassing situation lasted about twenty minutes. I could not get rid of them, I suspected them to be fake policemen and I could not see myself on board, but eventually they ended up erasing my disturbing photos, as I had originally requested them to do. On leaving, they explained to me that in addition to taking this official sign of Samarkand, which was forbidden, I had photographed a small radar which was fixed on a projector which illuminated the panel, and with which they made speed checks. I was able to drive back to the center of Samarkand.
Etape 783. Route M41 - Route M41. 52 kms.
Etape 784. Route M41 - Gul'cha. 72 kms.
Etape 785. Gul'cha - Osh. 84 kms.
Etape 786. Osh - Myrza-Aryk. 48 kms.
Etape 787. Myrza-Aryk - Suzak. 62 kms.
Etape 788. Suzak - Arlsanbob. 70 kms.
Etape 789. Arlsanbob ‚Äď For√™t Arsanbob. 11 kms.
Etape 790. For√™t Arsanbob - Kyzyl-Unkyur. 24 kms.
Etape 791. Kyzyl-Unkyur ‚Äď Chemin Kirghize. 8 kms.
Etape 792. Chemin Kirghize - Chemin Kirghize. 25 kms.
Etape 793. Chemin Kirghize ‚Äď Hotel Lac Toktogul. 42 kms.
Etape 794. Hotel Lac Toktogul - Toktogul. 64 kms.
Etape 795. Toktogul ‚Äď Route M41. 59 kms.
Etape 796. Route M41 - Route M41. 88 kms.
Etape 797. Route M41 - Bishkek. 124 kms.
I went a little further, picked up some wood, made a fire to boil the water of the torrent, brewed Nepalese tea and planted my tent at 11 am because I did not feel able to pass this high pass. Once put my air matress I leaned over and quickly fell asleep. Waking up two hours later it was a little better. So I packed the tent, made another fire to make a liter of water drinkable - maximum capacity of my pot ‚Äď from a torrent and I attacked the ascent. Afterwards, precise measurements on Google Earth indicate a rise of 5.3 kilometers to 16.5% and not 4 kilometers to 25%, the straight line of 4 kilometers on my Open Street Map map being wrong. Nevertheless, it was a difficult climb, on a stony path, enought difficult to force Tarus and Eric - I learned it later - to take off their saddlebags and walk twice in long portions, the difficulty being too high for push the bike by hand. Despite the illness but with a much lighter bike I managed to cross the pass by pushing the bike at one time but at the cost of terrible efforts and long breaks during which I saw my reserve of a liter of tea going down and down. There was no more torrent or wood along the way, so I had to take breaks not too long and especially pray so that on the other side I can find both a torrent and wood to redo drinking water. So it was with a lot of stress that I climbed the end of the pass with maybe the instincts of survival that gave me the necessary forces to finish with the last slopes. The descent was not a reward because the stones were sometimes of big size, still forcing me to walk but after two or three hours of descent I finally found a torrent with trees nearby and I could remake the tea and pitch the tent. The next day at sunrise I spoke with a shepherd who was walking with his sheep and cows, I had not seen humans since 10 am the day before and it was a very special meeting because he was particularly astonished to see a cyclist here, just like me I was surprised to meet him in such a isolated place at such an early hour. I made a new fire to boil a liter of water and then continued the descent. At one point the path was cut by a landslide, on the side of a very high and steep mountain. Two days after a terrible fall it was difficult to pass this new obstacle and make several trips by climbing the landslide by carrying the bags one after the other then the bike trying to stay in balance and without looking down. Down, I ended up getting there, in one piece, alive, and with my dear bike but it was still necessary to cross a new obstacle: a river whose bridge was destroyed by the current. I took the saddlebags again and made several trips to climb the remains of the concrete bridge, taking care not to slip into the water, because the powerful current would have taken me. On the way down I was slowed by a horse rider who was going up the road holding a bottle of vodka in his hand, he looked well drunk but I was able to get rid of it without much difficulty. I met another in much better condition and much more fun on the other side of the bridge near a farm and cannabis fields. Then instead of going up on the next mountain (500 meters of climbing) I chose to make a long detour to follow the downhill river and go to find the M41 road and a hotel at 40 kilometers. On this better road I fired up a new liter of tea and met a new Kyrgyz horse who was coming back to the farm with a bag filled with bottles of vodka. Particularly drunk he wanted to give me vodka and it took a long time for me to get rid of it because it was also accompanied by two big dogs and didn't want me to leave. When I finally joined the road and the civilization I was really thirsty and I quickly crossed two bagged cyclists who spun me water and I reached the hotel at night as planned. I dreamed of a shower and comfort but there was no shower or running water or wifi, the electricity was often cut off and there was a stench 20 meters around the dry toilets that were outside. 3 euros the night anyway. Then to reach the capital Bischkek by the road there were still two big passes, one day I climbed 70 kilometers without interruption from the morning to the evening and 5 kilometers from the summit at nightfall I was invited by a living family in an isolated yurt near the road. It was an opportunity to discover Kyrgyz ancestral culture from the inside: a very good moment in a very beautiful place in very good company. I was amazed by the knowledge of the French culture of the grandfather, who quoted me french writers Jules Verne and Victor Hugo (books have been translated into Russian), and Kyrgyz in general because two days earlier I had also heard of french singer Patricia Kaas and they also know a French actor with big nose and who now lives in Russia. The yurt was heated with fire from the excrement of cattle, the wooden structure was beautiful, as well as the colorful rugs on the walls. The father was stirring a liquid mixture in a high wooden receptacle, I did not risk drinking his preparation, it was certainly still fresh mare milk or perhaps fermented or another of their local preparations that made me sick several times in Kyrgyzstan. I left this beautiful family of the mountain, descended for 100 kilometers, climbed 1300 meters of elevation with big slopes and then went down again on the other side and arrived in Bishkek where I spent two weeks in a great place with excellent company.
(continuation of the preceding article) In the Arslanbob forest, there was no more road, just a path. A steep slope forced me regularly, as well as my caramades Tarus and Mimille (Eric), to push the bikes. We slept in this strange forest, were disturbed by some very bad policemans who should be very bored, then the next day we continued on a descent even more hard than the climb because we took the wrong paths and because at one point the path has become an invisible path with many traps. On several occasions we had to remove the bags to avoid falling in big holes or to cross a muddy area. Even an mountain bike could not have passed. On the end of this perilous descent I left my friends to risk me in a more direct way following the bed of a torrent, I crossed the icy torrent on foot several times and carried the bike many times. Arrived at the bottom, near a village, I found a real trail and I naturally relaxed. As I walked quietly to the village, shouting victory, my left foot skidded into a ravine, taking me in a free fall of 3 to 5 meters high on a slope to 60-70% approximately. I managed to stop this crazy fall by clinging to herbs and injuring my finger but the bike that left at the same time did not have this possibility and felt with the saddlebags on 10 to 20 meters of high stopping just one meter from the big river that was down. Superficial scratches everywhere for me and for the bike that a villager managed to recover before the arrival of Tarus and Eric 20 minutes later, he also did well with just a plastic broken of the speedometer, a broken pot, a big scratch on the screen of my smartphone and the main structure of my front basket broken. However, I was shocked by this free fall and the worst memories of the past have come back. The next night I had nightmares. What a emotion but it was not completely finished because the hardest was yet to come. Indeed after this village we had to cross a pass passing from 1500 meters to 3000 meters of altitude with at the end 4 kilometers to 25% on a way of which we did not know everything. Mimille and Tarus were good companions with many qualities to face these days. Mimille is a savoyard who knows the mountain well and Tarus is a traveler who has a good experience of cycling trips (every year he leaves his girlfriend during his vacation to go on adventures of all kinds solo) and who has more good Russian language skills and a very positive, adventurous and open mind. A free and happy French (but with which I still had noticeable differences). Also with the long duration of the journey together (Mimille 27 days, Tarus 13 days) appeared differences in the way of traveling of each because as you might know I travel the world by bike while developing a company in France which requires a lot of organization and rigor while my friends (on a summer vacation for one, in a sabbatical year for the other) were 100% in the Travel. The next morning, after two short steps of 11 and 24 kilometers long, and after my morning office hours I waited a long time for them to leave, without really understanding why, then two hours and 8 kilometers further we already finished the stage at 1pm because of a risk of storm, going to find refuge in a family of shepherds, being invited to eat and spend the night. The next day however we had to put the alarm clock at 6 o'clock and at 7 o'clock we were on the small mountain path. I was sick again and the lack of appetite and diarrhea the night before added to me a terrible tiredness that was shortening me and forced me to take a break every 50 meters, as well as bloating and nausea very unpleasant. In better physical condition, Mimille and Tarus went ahead and I did not see them again, they could not wait for me because Tarus had his flight back to France three days later. I found myself alone isolated in these giant mountains, sick, with a pass of 4 kilometers to 25% to cross and without drinking water because I was dependent on them for the water since my water filter no longer worked (following of the story in the next post).
Between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan the neutral zone of 20 kilometers of descent between the two borders was beautiful. Below snow-capped peaks at an altitude of 7,000 meters, the road went into rocky mountains to an astonishing valley, wider and slower. The mountains became multicolored, the bed of the river whose icy water was a great purity was lined with stones also multicolored, such as precious stones. The river was fed by small others whose water could sometimes be red. The sky was blue. Surely a place of paradise. The road then crosses the Kyrgyz border and the show continues until reach a more ordinary agricultural plain. At 26 kilometers after the border, and 14 kilometers before the first village, Sari-Tash, I met my first Kyrgyz: Nourkutane, a 12-year-old isolated child who was holding a donkey at the end of a rope and who blocked my way with his donkey so I had to stop. In the same way that the little prince would have asked to draw a sheep (french story of Antoine de Saint Exupery), his first words consisted of asking me for a pen. I took a pen in the front pocket of my front bag hanging on my front basket, and gave it to him. Then he asked me for a "notebook". I took my notebook out of the computer bag / desk of my back-left bag and handed it to him. But he did not want it. He then took out a red box from his backpack and put it in my basket. I took the box in my hand and I read the following inscriptions in french: "Small sardines ... Extra virgin olive oil ... Fished in the Mediterranean ... To consume until 2021. ..PREPARED IN BRITTANY ". This box was good because I had only 6 US dollars to change in Kyrgyz currency in Sari-Tash, village without any ATM. I was hungry, I had bread left and these sardines could very well match my bread. As I had two pens I left him the pen and I kept the sardines. Then he asked me for my computer, my phone, a watch etc ... I refused, I gave him my water filter bought 2 euros instead of 4.5 to Mashhad that was broken and I went on my way. I learned much later that it was Tarus, french partner who ware here an hour before me, who gave him this box. Nourkutane seems to do a small business with the cyclists who comes several times a day on this road. The road to Osh, the first big city in the country, was relatively easy. Passing a pass from 2800 to 3600 meters above sea level, there was a long descent of 90 kilometers to 2.2% to fall back to 1600 meters altitude before climbing quickly to 2300 meters to enjoy a new descent of 70 kilometers to 2.1% to Osh. The group of 6 a little scattered (some clung to trucks in the pass to go faster, I was sick) ended up in Osh around well-deserved pizzas and beers in a friendly atmosphere between cycling travelers from everywhere. It was the end of the journey with the \ HELLO <_BIKE> WORLD! Team who then left to join their families in Uzbekistan. I will have spent 18 beautiful days with them. After a good rest I continued the journey with only Tarus and Eric. We continued on the M41 road, until Bazar-Korgon where we bifurcated to take a shortcut that allowed to gain 100 kilometers at the price of crossing a high mountain range. The 51 kilometers from Bazar-Korgon to Arlsanbob on a small, gently sloping road were easy then it was seriously complicated by entering the Arslanbob Forest, which is the largest and oldest walnut forest in the world.