Monday, August 21, 2006

Near Sary Tash

Today we may have cycled for a short distance but we went a long way. The objective was to get as close to China as possible with the requirement that we cycle from Sary Tash. This meant that we'd hitchhike from the outskirts of Osh to Sary Tash. I'd cycled this when coming from Tajikistan & it wasn't difficult to convince Nick that missing out on the 2 passes to Sary Tash was a good idea. Both of us are keen to move on & with the famous Sunday market in Kashgar it seemed that cheating a little would be ok.

We left the homestay after a nice breakfast of pancakes & set off. We stopped at about 15km away from Osh, at the first spot where there were no houses by the road so that we could avoid having a crowd gather while we tried to flag down a vehicle. It turned out to be very simple. I抎 made a sign in misspelt Cyrillic for Sary Tash. Within 5 minutes a truck going all the way there stopped. The truck driver was a really nice guy & when we gave him some money for the ride he didn't seem to expect it, there was no bargaining. Nick reckoned that this was because he was Uzbek.

The weather wasn't nice when we dropped off in Sary Tash, it was at least 15 degrees cooler than Osh & raining. The worst of it was the view of the Pamirs was obscured by cloud. Fortunately it started to clear up as we got onto the road & soon a magnificent vista of snow capped peaks opened on the other side of the wide valley that we were going up.

Though the road was nearly flat we took it very easy as we'd made a significant jump in altitude, Osh was at 1100m, Sary Tash at 3200m. We'd both been higher while in Kyrgyzstan but not in the last couple of days. I'd caught a cold some time before Osh, I hoped that if altitude sickness struck (it didn't) that I'd be able to distinguish its symptoms from that of my cold.

We camped just off the road on a ledge overlooking the river & with the line of the Pamirs directly in front. Tomorrow I hope we are able to reach the Chinese border at the Irkeshtam Pass though it may be difficult as the Chinese side of the border runs on Beijing time & thus closes at 3pm Kyrgyz time.

I cycled 25 km in 2 hours & 16 minutes
Total so far 10065 km in 148 days
GPS Coordinates of end point - N 39°2.857, E 73°1.415

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