Saturday, July 15, 2006

Near Karakol

I finished the detour around the Uzbek Fergana region. I was getting a bit sick of the nearly flat agricultural land of the last couple of days so was pleased when the road began to rise.

For much of the afternoon the road was being reconstructed. This was a little painful as the road surface was difficult (though nothing like some of the roads in Tajikistan) & there was quite a bit of traffic kicking up dust. I think the work is being done by a Chinese company judging by the signs on trucks involved in the construction. Much of the bazaars that I'd visited in Central Asia were stocked with Chinese-made products. Apparently there's quite a bit of Turkish investment in the region. I wonder whether Russia will become interested in the region again. They may find the only thing they can sell is vodka & oil, the Chinese & Turks will have crowded them out.

The land became quite jagged when the road joined the Naryn river. The hills closed in & the valley became a gorge. From the mining town of Tashkцmьr a series of dams had been constructed with the road cut out of the side of the steep-sided gorge running parallel to the lake side. The lakes behind the cascade of dams were lovely. Once past the area of road construction I could concentrate more on the scenery & it became a really nice ride. The gorge was quite indented & the sides rose quite high.

With the Fergana valley behind me the number of houses & people beside the road decreased. A consequence of this was a sharp reduction in the whistling for my attention which I found quite annoying. Usually when I passed by a group of people beside the road, once they'd noticed me they'd stop whatever they were doing & stare at me. Often someone in the group would whistle in a manner that suggested they wanted my attention though usually they wouldn't do this until I'd passed by. The whistling was repeated until I was out of sight. If I looked at the whistler often they'd blankly stare back as before. I got the sense that I was being given the same treatment as give to goldfish, i.e. tap the bowl to see if the fish reacts. It was unnerving & I resolved to try & ignore whistling. Having said that there were plenty of smiling wavers to encourage me along as well.

I stopped for the night just off the highway by a river that joined one of the Naryn river dams. I so like the sound of wild water when camping.

I cycled 105 km in 7 hours & 45 minutes
Total so far 8822 km in 129 days
GPS Coordinates of end point - N 41°32.525, E 72°29.274

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