Location: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Counter: 3634 kms
I was not already entered in Kazakhstan, I knew that it would be crazy!
First contact with three Kazakhs truckers when I arrived in Korgas, last station in China before the border. It was midday, and they energically invited me around their table, and offered me an avalanche of Kazakh food, irrigated with beer. It was a tornado of swat in the shoulters, fat laughs with gold teeth, dances, 'repeat-after-me' russian rude words...
The first 50 kilometers after the border, car and truck drivers, driving suicidally fast, welcomed me with half of their body outside of the window, shouting louder than hell: 'welcome in Kazakhstan, my friend!' What a change after China!
I rode a really small part of Kazakhstan, but it was more than 650 kms: this land is huge! I cruised through beautiful landscapes, knowing that Philippe would arrived in Bishkek 5 days after my entry in Kazakhstan, and with the idea to spend one day off in Almati.
The road went through crazy landscapes, changing everyday from flat desert, to 5000 m peaks, canyons, gorges, lakes... I wasn't expecting to see so many beauties. Putting the tent was easy and the places were grandiose. A taste of Mongolia.
I enjoyed Kazakhstan a lot!
On the road, I met Andrew, a 23 year old american, who started walking one year ago from Napoli, and made his way to Kazakhstan across Europe and central Asia. Incredible! When he walks, it is from dawn to dusk, and then he put the tent. If he needs money, he plays violin in the street. Apparently he just has one rule: doing all his way by foot. He is heading to China, Mongolia... We had a really nice moment together. I'm still feeling really impressed, Andrew, and wish you all the best for this insightfull trip! If you come to France and Germany to close the loop, I'd like to walk some days with you!
Kazakh people were all a bit crazy, even the police. At a speed limit control, the two policemen in charge ran after me, pushed me, encouraged me like the people at the Tour de France, calling me 'Vino' - I assume the diminutive of Vinokourov, a Kazakh cycling champion. A few minutes later, I stopped at a bar-restaurant, and the two came inside. I asked for a Kwas, this delicious honey based beverage. It looks a bit like a beer, so I joked, asking if the barman put some alcohol inside, wondering if the two policemen will control me after lunch. They just exploded in laugh, and I didn't understand why at the moment. The barman said: 'look, police!' And the policemen drank each half a liter beer to down, celebrating it with a loud burp... And they took another one. I followed them, and knew after a few minutes that the ride in the afternoon would be creative and not long.
People were so nice, and never hesitate to invite me for a vodka shot or some food. In a failed attempt to join Bishkek from Almati in a day, I had to find a shelter before being swallowed by a huge storm. I ended in front of a small house, and was quickly invited inside by a old couple. I had kebab, an invitation to sleep, a shower and a washing machine: the first in two months! I spent the whole evening going around with a towel around the waist, all my clothes having definitely deserved a wash.
I'm now in Bishkek, enjoying the presence of other cyclists coming from everywhere. It is really great to hear from others. Most of the people here spent years on the road, and have a bunch of advices and ideas for the following.
Now begin a new part of the trip. I won't be alone and will spend the next two months in beautiful mountainous sceneries. Central asia is a paradise for cyclists and outdoor fans: here we go!
Life is just so great...