Status Update:

Current location: Bochum / Germany

50 countries, 1226 days, trip mileage: 124200 km

28 Aug 2008

Kyrgyzstan: Osh

03_...and some more hairpins after Sary-Tash. This is gonna be fun -)(Aug2008)

Osh brings us back into a much warmer climate, and back into the land of ear-bursting lorry-horns, cash machines, a good choice of restaurants, cheap phone calls to home and, above all: internet access. And the first email check since one week brings with it another problem: the rear shock I had ordered a week ago has been built to my specifications – but it hasn’t been delivered yet. In fact, for reasons unknown, it hasn’t even been shipped by Hagon Shocks – meaning: it will arrive in Osh within 5 days at the earliest. Yet another entry on the list of companies who’ve failed to deliver what they promised.

Nurlan, a friendly & helpful guy from Osh Guest House, helps us with safe storage for the motorcycles – and just as we ride into the parking premises, we get approached by Vladimir, a local Russian biker who happens to know a good motorbike mechanic in the outskirts of Bishkek. Bike-storage is safe as can-be, with an enormous beast of a growling dog guarding the premises. As we’re chatting away with Vladmir (Nurlan translating quite a few bits here), Len notices a missing subframe-bolt on my bike… and a quick look on the other side of the bike shows the same: both subframe bolts sheared off. THAT’S why the bike had been handling so badly since Murghab… I’ve got to say I’m rather embarrassed about this – but I never thought about checking the subframe bolts & simply blamed the bad bike handling on the corrugated roads.

After a brief intermezzo in Osh Guest House’s dormitory, we move on into a hotel (for the same price) to make ourselves comfortable & set up a base for the next week. Hotel Alai is a slightly run-down place with a true Soviet feeling to it: it’s cheap & cheerful, provides us with two separate rooms, one door key, cold water shower (funnily NOT during day-time), frequent power cuts and a bunch of not-so-cheerful hotel employees… but the place will do for now. It’s close to the main bazaar, and after setting up our two camping-stoves in the room, Len quickly gets into a routine of delicious cooking.

Whilst waiting for the rear shock absorber to arrive, the next week passes rather quickly: we make plenty of phone-calls to friends & family, every now and then go for a meal and a few beers in the evenings, visit Nurlan in Osh Guest House for a chat, and above all: ‘operation China’ still isn’t sorted out yet. Without much success, we try to find a Chinese lorry driver to take us ‘off the radar’ over Irkestham Pass into China, and through various sources of information (including our agent in China), we’re trying to find out when & if any other borders might open again, or if there’s any official ‘put-the-bike-on-a-truck’ alternative that’s within our budget.

One week later, my awaited spare part from the UK should arrive any time soon. And indeed, good news: it’s finally arrived. Bad news: it’s in Bishkek, some 700 km away – and I’ve got to pick it up in person. Any further delays from my side will cost me $3 per day for storage fees in the customs office. “Great”, I say to the lady in the UPS Bishkek office, “What would you say if you ordered a new TV and one week later you were told to pick it up a full 2 days journey away from where you actually wanted it delivered?”