Riding Along the Wild Mountains of Kyrgyzstan!
Hello again guys! Im back! Im alive! And kicking! And still going strong! Still cycling!! Yerrppp… u heard me.. im alive! The Russians didnt kill me! :D But firstly, im really sorry about not updating my blog for a long time. I even received some email from many ppl asking me wether im okay here, worrying about me since i didnt update my blog for a long time. Well, the reason was unlike China, it is really hard to get online here in central asia. I can only get connection mostly in big cities. All these while i was riding along the mountains here in central asia, mostly in Kyrgyzstan, home of the horse lords!
Well, many things happened to me since the last time i updated my blog. I didnt stay long in Kazakhstan. Its too expensive for a poor traveller like me. So after been spending money like water few days in Almaty, i made a desperate move, studied the map carefully and chose to leave the country as fast as i can. I just couldnt stay long in Kazakhstan. I then decided to leave the country via Kordey pass, crossing into the sexy Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan is flat, as flat as a pancake. But in Kyrgyzstan, its a different story here. This country is 90% mountainous. Snow mountains are everywhere. And it is much cheaper in Kyrgyzstan, of course its more expensive compared to China but at least its affordable traveling here. One thing i realized about the people here in Central Asia, both the Kyrgyz and the Kazakh, theyre serious type of people. They look serious all the time, unlike in China. I guess its the weather, surviving the winter here gives you a special character.
One bad thing happened to me tho. When i was in Bishkek, my sleeping bag got stolen. Its quite important for me, and that sleeping bag costs me 300 US dollar. Well, 300 USD might be nothing for most of you, but i could survive 6 weeks in China for that amount of money. Plus, i couldnt find the same or better quality sleeping bag in Kyrgyzstan, so i had to replace it with a lousy one. Its getting colder here day by day in Kyrgyzstan, especially in the snow mountains. Surviving the nights here, while camping in the wild, is torturing! The comfort level of my new sleeping is only at 0 celcius. While the temperature here in the snow mountains at night is constantly between -5 to -10 celcius. So u could picture me camping alone in the wild at night… freezing!! Uhhh… what a sexy moment!!
I was also riding around the infamous… sexy Issykul Lake in Kyrgyzstan! Its a very beautiful alpine lake, its a jewel to Kyrgyz people. Its surrounded by snow mountains and lies under the blue sky in the east of Kyrgyzstan. This is the second largest mountain lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America (Bolivia and Peru). Riding here is very relaxing, peaceful for me. The road is mostly flat, didnt climb any mountain pass here. Easy ride for the whole 500km ride. Unlike in China, i never worry cycling here. There are many small towns for every 5-10 km, i ride swift without heavy luggage, since i dont need to carry water or food. Food supplies is easy here, and water… i dont need to worry at all. Worst come to worst, i can just take the water from the lake for washing and drinking.
Only sometimes i had hard moments under the bad weather, were caught by heavy rain sometimes, icy rain is very painful when it hit my face. Being wet all over made me very cold. It got worst when i got wet, and still have to face the strong… cold siberian wind. But these are nothing to me anymore, the mountains in China and Tibetan-Himalayan especially had trained me well, trained me to be strong enough to face all these challenge. Now, after riding some 7000km since i started this long journey months ago from Chengdu in China, i think im brave enough to face almost any challenge. I even tried to cross into Afghanistan border but getting the visa is rather complicated, and dont think i can get the visa easily. I need recommendation letter from our Malaysian embassy and i dont think our Malaysian embassy will allow me to get into Afghan border, alone, with bicycle. Local people and other travellers warned me not to go there because of kidnapping problems, but my crazy mind tells me, why not get kidnapped. It might be another priceless experience getting kidnapped by terrorists and living under detention. But when i think again, i dont want to trouble anyone. I dont want my Malaysian government to waste the people’s money just to let me free by paying the ransom. Also, i still have a family back home. Dont think i want to let my parents worry about me living under detention in foreign land. So, i decided not to do it, i need to set my limit.
A funny thing about the local people here tho, most of them thought Im african lol! People in China always guess that im Pakistani or Arabs, but the Kyrgyz, they guess that Im either American or Africans. LOL! Well, if u see my dressing, I look sooooo…. Melayu! But yea, they never seen a Malaysian cyclist before, i think im the first one who cycle around this part of the world. And my skin is soo…. dark now… uh.. i couldnt find any english word to best describe it. But wait… i think theres a malay word which could describe my condition well. It is… “hitam legam!”. Hehe, well i dont have any protection against the fierce sunlight, my skin burned real bad and yea, i could look like im from black africa. I just laughed when the curious locals asked me wether im american or african.
One thing about the Kyrgyz people here, the hospitality here is as great as the chinese. Plus the Kyrgyz people here are muslims, theyre happy to meet a muslim brother from another part of the world, from the malayan jungle! :) Thats another reason why i didnt update my blog for so long. While staying in the wild, riding along the mountains, i spent most of my time spending with the people here. They let me live in their house for free. I see this as an opportunity to seek new friends, and to learn about their culture. They showed me around the village, communication is hard since they speak mostly Kyrgyz and Russians, and i speak English. But as usual, I used my magic, we had fun communicating using our body language and scribbling on paper.
Another interesting thing was, while i was riding towards the Issykul Lake, i met some chinese road builders in Kyrgyzstan! Theyre building roads from Bishkek all the way to Torugart Pass, China-Kyrgyzstan border in the south. While i was riding, it was already dark and need to camp. I then passed by them, asking them with my poor Russian wether i can camp near them and asked for water. I then realized that theyre chinese, and proudly speaking to them with my chinese! I was like, “Ni hao… nimen Zhongguoren ma?” (are you chinense people?). Theyre amazed that i can speak good chinese and i told them yeah, i spent 5 months riding in China, im now kinda fluent with my chinese! Thank god 2 of them can speak good english, and instead of camping, they let me stay with them… and even cook me dinner! We then had a long discussion over dinner about my experience riding in China, and theyre proud when i told them the chinese hospitality that i received in China was amazing! Just that they pity me when i told em about the bad experience i had with the chinese police in Xinjiang. They even wrote down my blog address and wants to keep in touch with me. They told me to come back to China and even told me to find a chinese wife lol! They said, if i ever come back to China and have any problem… just give them a call. They will help me out. Looks like they like me so much hehe. But yea, so far, the best hospitality i received is definitely in China. Even tho we are in different religion, but they really treat me well, respect me as a muslim. How nice if the whole world is like that. People respect each other even with different faith.
One last thing i want to mention in this post is, i think i will stop riding for now. Its getting colder and colder here. Winter is coming. And riding at this part of the world at this time of the year is not a very good idea. Been camping and sleeping in the wild at around -10 celcius is not something sexy. I need a rest, after some 7000km of cycling, i think it is time for me to take a rest. I will stay long here in Kyrgyzstan. I love this country very much. Plus, i have the intention to pay back the fasting month of ramadhan when im here. So in few days time, Ramadhan will begin for me. I only fast 5 days in Urumqi in China, i have some 25 days left to fast. I will do it all here in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I will start looking for a job and will find a cheap place for me to live. I like it here in Bishkek. It is a small city and unlike KL, its quiet, fresh air and surrounded by mountains here. Kinda a perfect place for me. Those of you who know me personally, sure u know i dont like living in KL because of its dusty polluted air, heavy traffic and all, here in Bishkek is perfect for me. I can go anywhere in the city just with bicycle. No traffic jam! Air is so fresh here, its perfect for a cyclist! Even tho i will stop cycling temporarily, I will still keep fit, will do a lot of running, gym and eat good food here.
And another important thing, my plan might change. I might not cycle to Russia, ive cycled some 500km in Kazakhstan, honestly i dont really like it. I dont really like Kazakhstan. After winter ends, i plan to continue cycling, but i might turn west. Im now eyeing on Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. These 3 countries are teasing me now, calling me to visit them. I started to study cities like Bukhara and Samarkand in Uzbekistan, and also Isfahan and Mashhad in Iran. I might want to visit these places and its people, of course, with bicycle :) As for now, I dont want to waste my time and money going back to KL. I’ve been emailing a few organization in Malaysia, asking for sponsors to support my ride. But none replied. Guess none of them are interested about what im doing. So thats fine, I will do it with my own power, i will find a job. Btw, i have a job interview later in the evening, theres 1 university here need a lecturer teaching computer animation, and i think im a suitable candidate for it with all my past working experience. I will try to impress them with my strong portfolio and showreel. If i can get a job here, i plan to study russian and arabic language, as a preparation for me to travel thru former russian countries and middle east with bicycle somewhere middle next year. As for now, i will try to survive a winter here in Kyrgyzstan.
Thats all from me now, salam alaikum and peace be on all of you, me, the solo Malaysian rider from Kyrgyzstan.