Sunday, July 9, 2006

Below Kizil Art Pass

As I left the homestay I tried to gently complain to the homestay people via a translator about the poor value dinner. However the point was somehow difficult to get across. The homestay was part of a scheme setup by a NGO called ACTED that set prices, however they didn't seem to set standards. Their aim was to sow the seeds of responsible tourism in the region. I wondered whether ACTED ought to be reminded that the homestay people needed also to understand that the services offered to their guests should be commensurate with the costs i.e. good money = good dinner. Perhaps the homestay people viewed business from guests as the country as a whole viewed the vast amount of aid money i.e. that it was some kind of gift. Certainly there was a stark contrast with the fuller commercial homestay that I slept & ate at in Murgab where the food was very good for the same price. Perhaps this is the consequence of an outside organisation such as a NGO rather than commercial pressures being a driving force in shaping the service.

It was just over 60km to the Kyrgyz border. My Kyrgyz visa started today, Sebastien's a few days ago but Roman's not until tomorrow. I was enjoying being in company for a change so delaying the crossing for what amounted to only an hour or 2 wasn't a big deal.

The border straddled the 4336m Kizil Art pass. We'd decided to camp just below it & cross first thing in the morning. I found the way up quite difficult as we had a stiff headwind to battle with & a 4232m pass to cross before calling it a day. It doesn't have to be very steep at 4000m for a climb to be tough. Towards the end we hit a

I cycled 51 km in 4 hours & 37 minutes
Total so far 8297 km in 122 days
GPS Coordinates of end point - N 39°21.636, E 73°20.214

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