16 June 2013

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan (day 41)

I am here: 40 33.678 N 72 46.051 E at 936m as of 04/06/2013 10:23 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:40.5613,72.76752

Stopped in Osh for what turned out to be a really good lunch. Which, given the rest of the day, is probably just as well.

Having pulled out of Osh Olly was in the back, which is unusual. He'd spent lunchtime doing something, which he was now informing us about - there was a roadblock ahead of us and had been for days - he'd been aware of it for a day or so, but the information was that it should have been cleared by the time we'd crossed the border. Alas, it wasn't.

Olly had hired a taxi to drive ahead of us and to call us with information so that we knew in advance what we were going to hit. This went slightly wrong when the car we hired ran out of petrol (easily fixed) and was then stopped by the police (one "fine" later...).
Olly, Dragoman, had also arranged alternative transport in the event the roadblock was still in place - the advantages of doing this type of travel with a well organised company who've got local contacts to get information from the ground.

We eventually did hit the roadblock and yet again it was time to leave Daisy & Jan behind (crossing the Caspian being the other time) - we all had to take everything we needed for a week+ from the truck (ie practically everything) and walk through the roadblock and go and find the alternative transport, a minibus (Sprinter van).
As with many other places, ok - everywhere, we stood out. Daisy draws attention and in a remote part of a remote Asian country a group of western travellers stand out. Cue the hellos from a lot of people, lots of smiles and quick conversations with people keen to say hello and use their English. It amazes me just how many people can speak a little English and it is great to talk with them, although too often my inner Londoner kicks in and I wonder why a stranger is being friendly to me - hopefully by the time I'm home again strangers being nice won't be unusual and I hope to be a little more forgiving towards tourists in London. Unless they stand on the left, of course.

Having packed everything we all own into the back of the van and then wedged ourselves around the kit, a very tight fit, we set off. The next couple of hours was driving through the countryside toward our homestay for the night, part of which was brought to by local music (ie more of the endless Russian europop, made better with some silly big-fish dancing with Casey). *twitch*

After weeks of being in Central Asia it was good to see something that is very Asian - a rice paddy. A sense of place.

Country number 6.

Now at BST +5 (UTC +6).