2009/05/31: Hilltop Camp 88 km
The first day involved looping around the Toktogul reservoir through hilly grasslands, and camping at the top of a hill, fingers crossed that the gathering clouds wouldn’t unleash anything serious. As we searched for a camping spot, a meek stray dog followed us. As we set up camp and cooked supper, she (the dog) curled up near us. We shared a little of our food. She looked almost as skinny as Chris.
2009/06/01: Komur 70 km and ride in van
In the morning, when we stopped for a second breakfast, we were invited to join a family for tea, bread, homemade butter, and grilled local fish that was rather like salmon.
In the late afternoon we pressed on into gathering clouds and rumblings of thunder. When the torrential rain came down, it was accompanied by blasts of wind. We cowered under a tree, but were soon invited to shelter in the cab of a parked truck. The truck was waiting for replacement tires, so it could proceed to Novosobirsk, Russia, with its load of Kyrgyz tomatoes. When the van with the new tires arrived, one of the truck drivers arranged with the van driver that two sodden cyclists, their bikes and luggage be transported southward to the next gastinitska.
Kindly Akmeht drove us to Tash-Komur through the Naryn River Canyon. The rainstorm was clearly something beyond usual local weather; all ditches and rivers ran full and brown, and rocks, some a metre in diameter, had come down on the road. The hotel was a soviet relic, and two young girls made us tea.
2009/06/02: Jalalabad 132 km
The van ride had put us within striking distance of Jalalabad, but the next day was a long one. Radic and Gulsiya in Bishkek had recommended we stay with a friend of theirs who provided lodging near the banya (Jalalabad has a hotsprings), but directions were far from clear and common language only went so far. We called the number we were given as we entered town. With the help of some local kids on bikes, we were shown where to start pedalling 5 km steeply uphill to hotsprings area above town, essentially in search of a private residence in yet another rainstorm as darkness fell. Arriving, we were greeted by Zina and her daughter-in-law, Adina, who speaks some English. We were served a wonderful meal in our cosy room.