(21.06.2012) I decided to just kill the beasts and not delete the random letter.
I am talking about the stupid little flies that think my bright iPhone screen is a good place to land on while I am typing. In my opinion it’s not, because every time I wipe a fly away I automatically type a letter in my blogpost. So, dear reader, if you see randomly appearing letters that don’t stand in any context, it was probably a fly that for example landed on the shift button, I tried killing it but missed it and now it sits on the Q, where I squeezed it. That’s why this random letter is a capital letter. So watch out for random letters, its like a gravestone to the fly, I won’t delete them. ;0)
My home is my castle. No in our case, my home is my tent.
And that’s where I am right now. It’s hot, very hot. It took me a while to acclimate and to be able to sleep in such a small and hot place. Paul is next to me. His body heats up the tent together with mine and helps rising the humidity to a foggy level. We have a so called tunnel-tent. It has one entry on the side and one in the front. Still ventilation does only take place in strong winds. Sometimes a breath of fresh air comes floating into the rear window. In my opinion, it is a failure and was a mistake buying this tent. It was O.K in Russia when we had minus degrees, it was ok in Poland were it was raining all the time, but it definitely is not made for the heat of southern Kazachstan. We already sewed in a rougher moskitonet, left half of the raincover open and put canisters of water under the cover to help ventilation but still, to damn hot.
Today we had a exhausting day. High temperature, high humidity, no sun, no rain and hardly any wind. As we started of we already were totally wet From sweat. We cycled past lovely canals and green shady alleys for we need to be in Shimkent tomorrow. Our Visas are running out and also we want to leave this wide and dry landscape of Kazachstan. It has been beautiful but after we spend nearly 40 days here, I have enough. Still seeing the place you started riding at in the morning when you set up your tent again in the evening about 100 km further is sometimes quite hard. So we didn’t really experience much today. The most exciting things were :
Giving our first autogram to a little girl. She had heard of us over someone else and already knew allot about our tour. She wanted us to write a German sentence in her diary with our signatures under it.
After having ice-cream we drove on. A man in a huge car asked me if we would like to drink tea with him in the village we just had passed. I denied for cycling back 10 km for tea was just a little to much. He accepted and gave me 15 dollar instead and said: the
next possibility we should drink tea with this money. Lovely, it reminded me of my grandmother giving me money for ice cream.
We settled down right behind a huge waste-dump. We are both a little scared of Shimkent for we have heard allot about it, and only bad stuff. Things like”gangster city”, mafia-ruled, unfriendly. So we didn’t want to put up the tent right next to the street to Shimkent. Here, behind the dump we were save.
We cooked some dinner and had to throw it away because there something had gotten into it that tasted like burned rubber. Probably something in the pasta. Then we had bread instead.
We allways choose our camp-places carefully, if we can. We know that a night of bad sleep can ruin the following day. An even ground, soft and exposed to wind but hidden from the sun with a small river next to it is about the best it can get.
The worst acceptable case before cycling on in the dark would be a hilly place on rocky ground in the sun but sheltered from the wind no water near us an next to a noisy road.
It’s funny how you first see the place completely different.
The first impression is always, of course, without the tent.
The second impression is with everything set up. It looks so different then and only at that moment we can state if it is a perfect or a rather less perfect place.
The third impression is when we leave again. After getting used to the place and getting to know it a little, we pack our stuff and then see the traces we have left. The flattened grass under the tent and where we walked often, the fireplace, the plants that have been removed from our”porch”, the biologic waste we leave for the sheep, the bicycle traces to and away from the place. Looking at a place after one day let’s me see it as if I leave my home, though the traces we leave will be gone again a few days later. The camping places are the places where we stay longest and do most of our activities like sleeping, cooking, fishing, repairing, talking, showering, planning a.s.o. For us they are very important and can ruin or rescue a day. So no wonder we choose them carefully. And until now we only had a few bad surprises, let’s keep it like this.
By the way, writing a blogpost sometimes spreads over days. I started this one yesterday and right now( 22.6.2012) sit in Shimkent, the gangster city an write the rest. We only had good experiences in this town until now. A few invitations, friendly smiles, presents as Kazachstan-flags for the Bike and a lot of “at kuda”, which means as much as “where do you come from”.
We left Shimkent in the dawn and although we had only good experiences we were still afraid of leaving this big town through its suburbs at a Friday evening. As it is getting to dark to ride we decide to take a side way to a pld factory building. We thought this place would be empty and not used any more but we were mistaking. There were still a few workers there and so we asked them if it is allright if we put up our tent on the factory ground. One of the workers, called Eljer, said that we could leave the bikes here and sleep at his place. At first we were a little sceptic but after talking to him for a while we decided to just take our passports and some money and leave the bikes and the equipment at the factory. The workers would be looking for it all night, he said and put up a bed right next to our bikes. Then he advised one of the worker to sleep there and we left to his place. it was a strange feeling to sit in a car after such a long time, also strange to have no luggage to watch after. He drove as all of the Kazachstan people, like crazy. A guy next to us in a BMW said our front tire was flat. He checked, confirmed it and drove on as usual. When I stepped out of the car I noticed how cramped my muscles where. I tried to look relaxed but after such a ride in such a rusty car I just wasn’t. As we entered the house his friends already had made dinner ready.
Typical Kazachstan dinner, chicken with bread, tea, cucumber and tomato. Again we weren’t allowed to stop eating until everything was finished. We will probably come home from this trip as the fat twins
We slept very well in a beautiful room. Breakfast was the same as dinner. This time cold chicken but still very good. We made a little present for him. Because his tire had broken while we were sitting in his car we tied ten dollar to a tire sticker( which we use to repair our tires) and hung it at his rear mirror. We hope he finds it there and can repair his tire with it :0)
After washing his car he drove us back to the factory, we packed our stuff and as if it hadn’t been enough already, his father , simply called Papa, gave us 5000 tenge, which is about 30 dollars. We couldn’t deny it. He wouldn’t let loose and just put it into my pocket. I guess starving in Kazachstan for us is impossible. Now we are on top of our first pass. 800 meters high. A view we had missed for so long and longed for the last 1000 km. We can already see the snowy tops of the mountains we are about to cross in the next weeks. It’s the pre-mountains to the Himalayas.
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