Status Update:

Current location: Bochum / Germany

50 countries, 1226 days, trip mileage: 124200 km

7 Sep 2008

Kyrgyzstan: Osh to Bishkek

16_Guards at Erkindik Statue, Bishkek(Sep2008)

We’ve been in Central Asia now for over 2 months, and against all odds we still haven’t had to pay a single bribe. Quite an achievement, I would like to think. And not so much for the money, but for the records, I will try to keep it that way. Well – our next encounter with the local police should become quite a challenge for this ‘no bribes paid’ record…

We set out from Osh to Bishkek. Fantastic tarmac – an absolute joy to ride. No traffic signs at all, in fact not even a sign that tells us about the beginning of a ‘city speed limit’. When all of a sudden, the race marshalls (=police) flag us down. With a big smile in their face the cops show us their digital speed-gun display: 75 km/h. 25 km/h too fast. Oh well… and I thought this was a bypass-road around the village, no?

They ask for our driving licenses & show us their paperwork. Official fee on the list: $7 per person. Yet he (wrongly) shows me the fee for speeding 30 km/h too fast: $15 per person. Nice try. “But, of course”, he communicates with sign language, “no problem”. Rubs his hands, moves one of his hands towards his back pocket (=his imaginary wallet) and starts to grin.

This one single hand-movement is enough to remind me of my anti-bribing principles. Although we were ’speeding’ without even knowing about it: we’re certainly not in a rush. Plenty of time to challenge a few corrupt cops & see if we can get away without paying anything at all. I get my notebook out and draw a little birds-eye view of the road, trying to sell them the story that, since they’re metering the speed from the side of the road, they must have picked up both bikes at the same time: “A car is 2m wide, a bike is not. So that lovelt speed-gun of yours was measuring both bikes at the same time, and because we were 25m apart from each other, the speed-gun shows the wrong speed. Alright?” Doesn’t really make sense, but the point is to steal the cop’s time: if all the speeding-fines go into THEIR pocket anyway, then time equals money. And the more time they spend with us, the less time they’ve got to catch other people speeding. Ten minutes later, they’re sick of discussing the whole thing, and we’re back on track to Bishkek.