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!

 

a friendly local kyrgyz herder. He said that i remind him of his son and reminded me to pray 5 times a day hehe...

 

 

typical mosque in kyrgyzstan! theyre so small and so cute!

 

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.

 

errkk.... elemek... ni apa daa.....

 

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.

 

owhh... patut la they thought im african. Look at me man... so hitam legam! but that kyrgyz guy look a lot like malay man...

 

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.

 

me with a kyrgyz family. very friendly to me and gave me food and shelter for free!

 

 

typical muslim cemetery in kyrgyzstan

 

 

cute little kyrgyz riders

 

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.

 

elemek... sorry for the bad pic... my camera is facing the sun la jack.

 

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.

 

riding along the autumn color in kyrgyzstan!

 

 

local kyrgyz man having conversation in animal bazaar in karakol, kyrgyzstan

 

26 Comments on “Riding Along the Wild Mountains of Kyrgyzstan!

  1. Alhamdulillah, you are OK. Those are beautiful pictures. The sky is so blue. Did you use a polariser? I hear Uzbekistan is not cheap either. I hope you will be successful in your interview.

  2. Glad to hear from you again. U lived your life well… berkelana di bumi Allah… mashaallah.

  3. Good to hear you are doing well. I doa that you’ll find the resources needed to travel again. you have been a great inspiration and keep it up. Never stop praying and hope you will complete your fasting with ease. Take care man!

  4. We pray hard for your safety. I am truely agree with fahmiow that you should give us yor bank account number so that we can chip in to continue yor journey to iran, turkey and rest of the world. What you have done is so noble-promoting Malaysia to the world. To all freinds of Zahariz in Malaysia why dont we sacrifice our RM at mamak stalls, kopi-tiams, soffe-beans, starbuckc, dunhill, salem and donate them to Zahariz. If we can spare RM1 per day until the end of the year for his vanturer we dont need any sponsors from big companies. Please ask our spouses, friends, brothers/sisters, mums/dads to chip in. If Rm50 per day for 80 days (till 31 Dec 2010) we can collect nearly RM4,000. So please sebarkan this proposals to all people that you know. Saslam Matt.

  5. Killeresan my brown brother. Just wanted to clarify, what do u mean by the statement “the solo Malaysian rider from Kyrgyzstan”?

  6. really inspired with your journey & courage.been following your blog since i’ve read about it in asian geographic passport.Bravo!keep on cycling & writing about it, gud luck and have a safe journey. :)

  7. salam everyone,
    thank you for all the comments. i already created another page called donation, so if anybody is willing to give some donation i have the details there.
    so far im doing okay here, its getting colder here in bishkek city, cant imagine hows the temperature up there in the mountains. planning to film those nomads hunting with eagles during winter after im done with fasting.
    im not sure if i still want to update my blog now since im not cycling temporarily.
    amirul bin lingham – lol diamm ahhh!!

  8. Salam dear brown brother, Alhamdulillah all are OK…aku risau gak, tetiba jer senyap…ingatkan dah sangkut awek Kazakhtan..! hehehe… Glad you’re doin good..! apa2 pun pics ko mmg superb, aku guess you did some PP, don’t you? maybe one day aku belanja teh tarik and kits dok cerita2 pasal bende ni…haha..!
    Jaga diri bro..aku doakan ko selamat sampai ke Malaysia semula…take care bro…

  9. bro,
    totally agree with yor plan thus far. get some rest, learn the local culture, integrate into the local society but pls remember not to give up writing. Do share with us the local culture thru yr blogging.
    Even if you give up cycling now, you wont disappoint yr ‘fans’.
    did you write to the Prime Minister?? and to all M’sia TV stations, I mean all!
    Do write to Tony in Air Asia. Address yr plead directly to him. I cannot imagine him not support you in one way or the other.

  10. bro,

    I would like to make a small donation but I dun hav a Malaysian bank acc. DO you have a paypal account instead??

  11. satu perjalanan yang sangat membanggakan, semoga Allah bersama tuan dan diberi kekuatan dan kesihatan untuk meneruskan apa yang tuan cita2kan.

  12. hey thx for the replies guys. as for now theres nothing to update from me here. since i stopped cycling.. weather is bad here. very cloudy. yerk. cant imagine myself cycling now… its way too cold here. did the job interview but unfortunately its a new uni and they only need lecturers teaching 3d animation and vfx on spring next yr. so i will try to teach english here. unless i can find anyone here who wants to learn malay? :)

    JJ – hey really appreciate ur intention but no i dont have paypal account. and yea i will keep updating when i have something interesting to tell. but i wont be active anymore temporarily on winter here. but will write a story about the nomad people here.. its really interesting… so different than our culture!

    afidie – bro… hehe why not when im back in msia will definitely meet up. eh i read the thread in pm hehe thx for the effort man and i read those comments… and yea my journey is personal and wont bring benefits to others. im not doing this for charity since i dont have any contacts… nothing. the best i can do for now is to share in on my blog. and yup im wearing my oakley sunglass haha thats so funny. dont get me wrong i was actually laughing when i read those comments bro. but really thx for the effort… really appreciate it.

    zainalabidin – terima kasih tuan… insya allah…

  13. Bro Zahariz, hahaha!! I’m glad you found all comments are rather funny, alas it’s rather tough comments, I think..I guess those comments are nothing compared to what you went thru for the last 6 months huh??! :) Well, I know abt human well, but didn’t expect to be like that bad..hehe…

    Anyway, as I said in PM, you inspire me, and everytime I read ur blog, it remind me my solo 3 weeks journey to everest base camp, the loneliness, the people, the view… pegghh!!

    Yep, looking fwd to see u bro, take care and stay cool..!

  14. hey no worries mate. i think some of them just misunderstood the title. but hey thx for the effort man. but really.. the broadband internet in 3rd world country and the oakley glasses were hillarious.

  15. Salam,
    It’s good to hear from you again and the photos are wonderful!!..
    Envy your spirit and your determination..

  16. bro zahariz.. am next to afidie.. am proud what you do.. dont care abt the thread in PM.. i will just do small part of mine. and keep posting ya

  17. I came across your page totally by accident. Neat trip! I love how real people are genuinely good if you’re able to get past all the garbage piled up by the media.

    I do some biking in Minnesota, USA. We have beautiful trails here. Some day I want to go out on my bike for a couple of weeks.

    You’re a great inspiration!

  18. bro, klu ko travel turkmenistan bgtau camner ko dpt visa dorg nnt sbb aku dgr msian kene ade support letter dr agency travel dr turkmenistan utk dptkan visa dorg.. xtau btol ke x..

  19. thx all,
    mary – thx for ur comments. cycling here in asia is great. i feel so safe walking alone on the streets here even at night. but i might one day travel in your continent too someday… of course, with bicycle :)

    ray – memang btul bro.. kene ada support letter. ko travel dr malaysia straight ke datang turkmen? kalau from kyrgyzstan, travel agent kat bishkek boleh arrangekan. most countries dpt 5 days visa je beb. tatau la kita camana.. aku try nanti. kalau 5 days… tak larat aku nak kayuh 500km rentas border masuk iran dr border uzbek. so maybe kalau rentas iran.. aku amik bas je. turkmen strict sikit. aku try masuk afghan pun tak boleh, padahal nak masuk wakhan je. kene ada letter dr kerajaan kita. malas plak aku nak masuk kalau camtu. leceh byk paperwork…

  20. okeh.. gud luck bro.. aku plan nak backpacking dr kl – london.. tapi baca ko nye story yg sgt inspiring mybe aku nk add cycling into that plan.. klu ko baca expedition 1msia, turkemenistan nye police escort dorg dr awal dorg msuk smpai border iran.. gile! takde privacy kot!

  21. ray – tu la pasal. aku tak suka la escort2 ni. pakistan pun camtu. takut risk kene kidnap by taleban. byk country camtu beb… even libya and yemen pun escort.

  22. i am very proud of u.. Keep up the good work. May ALLAH bless u always and make it easy for u…insyALLAH

  23. Hello brother Zahariz! I’m kyrgyz and live in Malaysia for several years and i came accross your page thrue our kyrgyz friend who also live here. You are really made my day! Deeply appreciated for your story. I hope winter was warm for you in Kyrgyzstan. If you are still in Kyrgystan i would like to meet up with you coz i will travel back home soon. I would like to support you in anyway i can. Please stay in touch aidar79@gmail.com Cordially Aidarbek (kyrgyz)

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