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Sunday, 6 October 2013

DAY 7, ALMATY – KORDAY – TOKMOK – BALYKCHYI – CHOLPON-ATA – TUP (635KM)

28th May 2013
Today I am going to enter Kyrgyzstan. Before checking out, I distribute the memento calendar to Alicia (the hostel owner), her staff and some guests at the hostel. To my surprise, Alicia gave me USD20. She said, “You are so brave. Not only you did a solo ride but you help promoting your country during your ride. I am very proud of you....so you stay free for 1 night”. Woww....this is very sweet of her. Can u imagine how I feel? I felt sooo touched. She’s not a Malaysian, but she can say such words to me who is not a Kazakh citizen. I thanked her and make a move out of Almaty. Again, my GPS kept directing me to slip road; however I managed to exit Almaty in less than 30 minutes time. I rode the same way back on M39, all the way to Korday. This time, I got a tail wind, so the ride was much easier, compared to the other day. I stopped many times for pics and enjoying the beautiful view.
 
 
I reached Korday border after 4 hours riding. Border crossing was smooth. The officers at Kazakh side were very friendly. I need only 30 minutes to exit Kazakh. Entering Kyrgyzstan was even easier. I didn’t even need to do a customs declaration to bring DREAM into this country. Passport control took only 10 minutes, and very soon, DREAM was hitting the roads in Kyrgyz.
 
It says, "KORDAY"

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan
I changed some money first (never change more than you need because the rate exchange at the border is normally poor), and spotted 2 motorbikes which I couldn’t recognize the brand. This was the first time I saw motorbikes ever since I started my ride. The road from Korday, to Tokmok (bypassing Bishkek) was a good 2 lanes. I rode along the beautiful Shoestring Gorge and green colour Chui River. This must have been the same river which I have seen in Zahariz’s pics which made me fall in love with Kyrgyzstan.

They just lay side y side, but the view between Kazakh and Kyrgyz is totally different


Chui River

Very soon, the road deteriorates due to road constructions which continued for 120kms on and off, until I reached Balykchyi.
 




I was getting hungry and DREAM needed fuel, so I stopped at a nice petrol station. I had some snacks and tried to make conversation with the workers. I asked them for money changers and they told me that there is no money changer in Kyrgyzstan, and that I have to change money at the bank. It was already 4pm at that time and the banks are closed.
 

I continued towards the northern road of Issykul Lake, and when instinct told me to turn my view to the right side, I saw the very blue pristine lake. It was soooo beautiful that I was screaming with joy while riding DREAM. This lake was the reason why I wanted to visit Kyrgyzstan. I can’t believe that I was actually seeing it with my own eyes at last. It was hard to focus my concentration on the road as I kept turning to the right to view the lake. 

Beautiful Issyk Kul


It was getting late, and I am still far from Karakol, the place where I am supposed to pitch my tent for the night. The temperature dropped to 15 degrees Celsius as I am ascending to more than 2000m above sea level. The road condition was uneven with bad patches here and there. I noticed that the locals either drove an old Opel, or 4WD with big tyres to suit with the road condition. I was riding fast, and at one time, while taking a sharp corner, I almost collided with a car coming from the opposite. It was soooo close that I can feel my heart skipped a beat.

I stopped by the road side to check on my map to see if there is any river nearby, suitable for me to pitch my tent. Before long, a group of men came and started to have a conversation with me. I don’t have time for a chit chat. Some of them tried to take my GPS and my map from my hand. This is not good, and from the smell of their breath, I knew that they were drunk from too much vodka. I hurriedly start DREAM’s engine and sped off. Luckily, as the last light of the sun remained, I saw a bridge and an off road near to a Health Resort. I followed the off road, and took a trail which leads near to the river. I pitched my tent in darkness. It was difficult to get the tent standing bcos I can’t see a thing. I don’t want to start DREAM’s engine to get the light from the head lamp, as to avoid unwanted attention. It’s getting even colder very soon, and feeling lazy to cook; I just had a simple dinner and straight away go to sleep.
I woke up some time during midnight because of the chill. The temperature was 10 degrees, and dropped to 5 degrees soon after. I hardly can sleep due to the chill which gets into the bones, and the sound of howling which scares me to the max. I was shivering inside my sleeping bag and my whole body was in pain. I don’t know when I finally managed to doze off.
p/s: A more detailed story about my journey will be told in my upcoming book. More beautiful pics of course. STAY TUNED.....
 

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