Days 104 – 106 : Yourts and yogurt

26 Aug

Delayed with our little excursion in the mountains, followed by a u turn to the west, we decided to hitch hike to the north to catch up the distance. After waiting for a few minutes next to the main crossroad a truck stopped and agreed to give us a ride to Toktogul, 300 km further, for 1000 soms (approximately 15 euros). We got in the truck, fixed the bikes in the back, and took a seat behind the drivers, 2 friendly Kyrgyz in their early 30s. On the road, each cop we see is stopping us, requesting a bribe to let us go without problem. 50 soms (a bit less than 1 euro) is enough for the cops to be happy. In one hour, we were stopped 4 or 5 times by the police for no specific reason and bribed all of them. After few hours in the truck riding between mountains, we reached Toktogul, the hometown of the drivers, and one of them  offered us to stay at his place with family, where we could sleep outside, under the stars and next to the chickens.

Cirga our friendly driver and his family

Toktogul has a big reservoir of water, a lake with calm water surrounded by  big snowy mountains all around. The water is warm and swimming there has been a real delight. We didn’t take a proper shower for 4 or 5 days and washing/refreshing there was the only thing we wanted before getting back on the asphalt. A swim and a fish later, we started the ascension of a big mountain, with 50 km uphill. The road is good and the scenery starts getting breathtaking. We see many nomads on the way, living in their yourts and selling dairy products from their horses , mainly milk, cheese and butter.

Toktogul reservoir

This part of the road might be the most amazing place we cycled. Huge spaces, incredible mountains, and good conditions. We crossed two ranges of mountains, one at 3200 meters and the other at 3600 meters. Nomads welcomed us to stay with them and set up the tent next to their yourt. We witnessed and experienced their lifestyle, centered on the horses. From a very young age, they use them to commute, and nearly exclusively eat food made from horse milk.

How to make Kumizz

Drying the cheese
Arrived a the top of the mountain, we had to cross a 3 km long tunnel to pass on the other side. A jeep stopped next to us, and the driver told us we shouldn’t cross it on a bicycle, as people die there every year due to lack of aeration in the tunnel, falling asleep with gas emanation. Azret, the driver, speaks good english and works as snowboard and paragliding guide in the mountains. He kindly proposed us to stay at his place in Karabalta, in the valley. The downhill was incredible : 80km long in breathtaking landscapes. We quickly got to Azret’s flat, and we visited the city together. It used to be an active industrial town during soviet era, but since the decline of the empire, it declined and it is now more like a ghost town with empty factories and radioactive areas.
Just one more
We should’nt stay more than five minutes   

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