Archive for the ‘kyrgyzstan’ Category

Towards Xinjiang

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Posted by Krista
Osh, Kyrgyzstan

China has seemed so elusive, so far away for so long, and yet now its snow-capped peaks are beckoning us, inviting us, challenging us. These grand mountains bring tears to my eyes – their presence and strength remind me of my own eternal nature.

From Osh, a road winds its way into the Alay Mountain range. We’re gonna follow it for some 250 kilometres, crossing three high passes, to reach Irkeshtam, the border with China.

I’m a bit nervous cos we’ve met a stack of other cyclists here who’ve reported that this particular road is the worst they’ve ever ridden. Its whole length is currently under construction, and by all accounts, apart from the first smooth and tarmacked 60kms, it’s rubble, mud, diggers, sand and gravel all the way to China.

I hope my bike will last until we reach Kashgar. It’s creaking and groaning from within the front hub and the gears have some unsolved problems that elude even Dan. And neither of us know how we’ll deal with the altitude yet – the Taldyk Pass is at 3615 metres – and is the highest we’ve been on bikes.

But, one pedal at a time, and I’m sure we’ll get there.

Onward from Osh

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Posted by Krista
Osh, Kyrgyzstan

Osh is situated at a major travellers crossroads – if you go south-east you reach China via the Irkesham Pass, south will take you to the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, go north and you will reach Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek and just a few kms away to the north-west is the border with Uzbekistan. All very nice cycling territory! And it’s here that we’ve met NINE other cyclists! Yee ha!

Together with our new two-wheeled friends, we’ve been discussing routes and plans and ideas for the way ahead. It’s becoming more and more apparent to us that the original route we wanted to take – along the high altitude Tibetan Highway to Lhasa – is virtually impossible this year.

Travellers and cyclists reaching Osh from China have reported that the Chinese authorities have clamped down EVEN more strongly on independent travel through this region since the Olympics. And for the past couple of months, travellers have been forbidden to enter Lhasa without an official guide.

So we’re reconsidering our route and here are the possibilities.