Our first days in kasakhstan were laid-back and easy. We stayed in a nice guesthouse with a lovely garden to hang out. Around the corner we found an awesome little shop with everything we needed: all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies, dried fruits, nuts, kurut, juice, oats, olive oil, bread…basically all we needed. the owner knew some German and was very friendly.
We did everything possible to give pouls Achilles’ tendon a good rest to make sure that we could proceed our journey together.
The day came, and we left shemonaikha with mixed feelings.
The conditions were awesome, good road, lovely weather, an interesting scenery, sweet! But poul kept complaining about his sore tendon, wich made it an quite ambivalent Situation. We crossed countless rolling hills on the way to Ust-Kamenogorsk, wich made it even harder for poul.
As we arrived to town it was already evening and we used the last daylight to find a cheap guesthouse. What we finally found was a place that was labeled as ‘hostel’ but it did hardly match a single of my expectations. It was a dirty shithole full of people whose most important daily tasks were smoking and getting drunk. But hey, it was cheap, three euro per night seemed a good price regarding the fact that we would spent 6 days in that spot. Poul went to the hospital the next day and I strolled around the city. After I while I found a good café. Of course hardly anybody knew some english, until Anna turned up. Anna is 18 and a lovely girl who worked in the café and greeted me with the most welcoming and warm ‘hello’ ever. She couldn’t believe that a foreigner had found its way into her café and served me a free coffee, snacks and most importantly: she gave me all her attention. I was delighted by all her overall appearance and all her questions, Anna was so sweet. Later on, Askar the barista and his cook started to join our conversation and I felt so good with these people. Poul joined us later and told me about his morning. We had to stay a whole week here otherwise he would have to stop the trip right here. His tendon needed a serious rest from any activity. It was a bit annoying as the weather was amazing all day. But yeah, at least we found this good place: SELFIE COFFEE. We went there every day, enjoyed good coffee and enjoyed life with good people. We wanna thank you all there at selfie coffee for all the love you showed us!!
We didn’t have much to do and that way we spent the day buying good food, enjoying dinner at the river with perfect sunsets, just a good time.
We left the town on a Saturday, and soon the good road disappeared and were facing the bloody reality of being stuck on a bombed-out road. Cars and trucks did hardly ever go faster than 50 km/h. On the one hand it was safer for us than but it was so bumpy too.
Somehow we arrived to qalbatau and stocked up on food and water again. In town we met a Kazakh couple who work in Semipalatinsk teaching English. They were super helpfull and offered us to stay in touch in order to translate via phone whenever we needed help. Awesome. It’s so good to have people like them around. Something that I found to be so important at all the far places I’ve been to already, is that it’s so lovely to have friendly people around who are happy to help. Thank you guys (!!!) if you read this.
Next day the surface of the ‘road’ got even worse, you wouldn’t believe how bad it was. Even cars did max. 30km/h now, it was bombed-out again. Luckily the very bad parts did only last for maybe 20 km until a slightly better part came. But still, it was hard to keep going. I want to mention the kyrgiz guy we met: Andrej. He was probably in his 40ies, cycling , in jeans, old boots, long hair, long shirt. We complained about the road…”hmm..normal” he said. He was a guy. He just did it. Big Respect for him. Mate, I admire you even though I know that you will not read it, take care!
In the evening we reached a big lake and a very spectacular mountain range, it was good to see that. A few kms further we stopped at a small roadhouse and had dinner. The family was so friendly in welcoming and allowed us to sleep on their terrace. We spent the evening with talgar and the two lovely children. It’s such a fantastic warm feeling to have local people around who do everything for you and care for you. Thank you.
The day after we rolled on to Ayagoz. From here we decided to take the bus, as the next 500 km the road was even worse and we were just done with it. Almost all the join of cycling had dissappeared, that was not worth it.
The bus drive was an adventure itself. The night before I met the bus driver in our guesthouse and asked him if he could take us to taldykorgan. It seemed ok for him and the next day we had enough time to put our beloved bikes into the bus. It was hot, and the bus was quite full and of course super old. Without a good aircon, the drive was really an adventure. We crossed the kazakh Steppe and stopped for sweet melons along the way. Later the road became so bad that it even fucked up the left suspension of the bus and we were lucky that we had already covered 90 % of the distance to our destination as it happened.
Here in taldykorgan we take a rest again and enjoy the Kazakh summer. Good weather alll day…