Posts Tagged ‘Moon’


The weather threw everything at us as we left the roof of the world. Our headwind remained. It snowed over the pass on the border with Kyrgyzstan, and pissed down as we descended. Then the sun broke, the tailwind was rolled out, and we crossed the most spectacular valley flanked with massive snowy peaks. Welcome to Kyrgyzstan.

Looking back at the Pamirs

Looking back at the Pamirs

One of my favourite videos is ‘The Road to Karakol’. A mountaineer cycles around Kyrgyzstan, climbing peaks, and nearly dying as he has to cross a raging river. The video is funny, the scenery is spectacular, and it gets me emotional whenever I see it. In one scene, the cyclist has a race with a little boy on a horse. Today I saw that little boy on a horse, shepherding his sheep. Cycling down across a wide valley with spectacular mountains as a backdrop, I couldn’t help but think about the film. I am here in Kyrgyzstan, in the ‘Switzerland of Central Asia’.

Horseboy

Horseboy

The descent was muddy and wet.

Precarious dunny

Precarious dunny

Mixing of colours

Mixing of colours

The little town of Sarytash felt like a small step back to civilization. There were shops with things to buy, and it all felt a bit wealthier. Still no showers, though.

Sarytash

Sarytash


We sat huddled in the metre high drainage pipe under the road. Outside it was howling a sandy gale in the moon landscape, and dark clouds were forming and swirling around the snowy peaks. Cycling downhill at 6 km/h against the wind with nowhere to hide, camping was looking problematic. ‘Onwards,’ we decided. There must be somewhere better than this.

Our hideout from the wind

Our hideout from the wind

After our monster effort yesterday, we slept in, and then went on a tour through the ‘markets’ of the town. Our homestay host took us to the markets, which were all in people’s homes. No chocolates were on offer to replace what I threw down the hatch yesterday in our evening slog. Like Old Mother Hubbard, the cupboards were bare. Just lollies and biscuits.

The grocery shop

The grocery shop

And then the cabbage truck drove into town. Hurray, hurray, oh glorious day! They even had a few apricots!

The cabbage truck

The cabbage truck

There was a blue hole in the clouded sky above the beautiful Karakul lake. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the lake created its own sunny weather. Skirting the lake, it seemed the wind always blew away from the lake – which lead to the theory of us having a tailwind going over the pass. This theory proved to be incorrect.

The long road out of Karakul

The long road out of Karakul

Lake Karakul

Lake Karakul

The wind was the strongest I have experienced – and it was a headwind. Scaling the steep bits of the pass involved 10 pedal strokes followed by a minute regaining breath. Descending required pedalling to move forward, and the speed rarely passed 10 km/h. After shivering in the drainage pipe, we realised we needed to continue to keep warm. We are now camping on the sand behind a mound that seems, somehow, to deflect most of the wind. It is going to be cold tonight.

Our moonscape camping spot

Our moonscape camping spot