The diaries - 13   

08 July

Naryn - Kyrgyzstan


Kajyisay - another beautiful one-eyed town on the edge of Lake Issyk-Kul. We called in at the tourist information office and found accommodation with a Russian couple, Natalyia and Sasha,
food, animals everywhere - hens, pigs, dogs, cats - the pigs were a god-send really, they masked the smell from the pit toilet in the garden. Washing facilities were the usual sink and cold water under the apricot tree - and do you know what? It was absolutely bloody fantastic! They were a super couple and their friends, when they arrived later that night, included us in the party, more food and the inevitable vodka! We have two nights here, to explore the area and have a real treat - a swim in the lake! Cold yes, but not as cold as those Scottish lochs or the North Sea at good old Brid!

We leave and head west for the end of the lake, doing the odd detour halfway up mountains to see the odd, old settlement and petroglyphs that all good tourists do - except we can never find them! They are well-signed from the end of the road - but that is all - and the village people know absolutely nothing about them. I once spent ages trying to communicate with two boys and their donkey (the donkey had more sense), even drawing animals in the sand and then patting the rocks and asking 'where'? They laughed hysterically (I wonder why) and set off to go, but I got my revenge when the donkey refused to move an inch.

The town at the end of the lake, Balychy, is horrible, so we head south-ish towards Naryn and camped at the side of the river with an Australian couple on bicycles who were heading the same way. We had met them earlier and stopped for a natter, so it made a nice change to have some English conversation!

We cleaned our bikes a little by the river the next morning, the first wash they had had since being power-washed in Russia way back in April. They look worse for wear, my panniers especially with all the dents and bumps, and both bikes are covered in tar spots - we probably should have left them dirty.

Whenever we stop at the side of the road, if I don't pull up alongside Mick - he usually says "Come to the side" or "How do you expect me to hear you from back there!" I bet he won't ever say that again after the events of the next day!

On one mountain road he stopped to admire the view, I pulled up alongside, the next moment I had overbalanced and domino-fashion toppled into him, knocking him over too. I was trapped between the bikes and all I heard from him was the OOOOOOOOOOhhhhhhh as he rolled down the mountain side. Do you know - it took him ages to drag himself up the mountain - and me still stuck between the two bikes. Only damage - one broken mirror, and that was mine!

After our night camping by the river we head down towards Naryn, but the scenery on the way is so captivating we only do 50 miles the first day, and end up camping 9,500 feet up in the
. The Dolon Pass is spectacular, snow capped peaks, meadowland above the tree line that is awash with wild flowers. The road twists between high rocky mountains, and is on one of the original Silk Routes that saw as many as 8,000 - 10,000 camels in a train, carrying the goods from Asia to the Mediterranean. You can really feel the atmosphere, see the camels plodding along the route, picture the bandits hiding behind the rocks ready to ambush, nothing has changed here for thousands of years. The tarmac road hardly encroaches on the landscape it
so insignificant.

We are waved down and invited over to join a group of Kyrgzs putting up their yurts where they intend to stay for the summer. Hospitality again. We drink chai, eat bread, listen to the accordion the old man can play, and the women sing for us. We decline dinner. We have seen what is boiling in the massive pot on the fire outside: sheeps head, entrails, guts, the lot. No thank you very much, we say we have already eaten and it would be wasted on us!

I have to comment here on this new toy Mick has. He calls it a state-of-the-art piece of equipment, his Motorrad Navigator II. It is so good, he tells me we can't possibly be going in the right direction because the road we are on isn't even on his map. "We are going in the wrong direction - we should be heading south" he frequently comments. The fact that there is a bloody great range of mountains in front of us and we have to head for the passes or go round, is of little consequence! The fact that he is on the 'world map' and it still shows Yugoslavia as a country is also of little consequence. I think I will trust my instinct and my old paper map and carry on in the front - I understand he used to do 'Lost in Deutschland Tours'  - it all becomes clear!

We are now in Naryn, and again there is 'trouble at t'mill'. The rear brake master-cylinder on my bike has given up the ghost. Despite being cleaned and de-grunged, the piston does not return all the way, as it should, so the rear brake sticks on, causing the odd bit of smoke now and then! We have to e-mail Rainbow Motorcyles again and see if they will send one out to Osh or Jalalabad and we can fix it there. The next five days with only a front brake and many unmade roads on mountain passes should be interesting to say the least Oh well - I should be reasonably good at front brake control by the time we get there....... I wonder if Mick would be willing to lend me his master-cylinder! (I've already offered...Mick)

The next update will probably be from Osh. Mick has not had time to do one. The e-mail facilities are stretched to the limit here and the queue a mile long, so you can catch up with his news from there.

We do have to end on a sad note - having picked up an e mail from my daughter in London today, telling us briefly about the bombings of the tube stations. Our hearts go out to the people there, and we are thinking of home right now.


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