Status Update:

Current location: Bochum / Germany

50 countries, 1226 days, trip mileage: 124200 km

7 Sep 2008

Kyrgyzstan: Bishkek (1)

19_Merchant on Alamedin Bazaar, Bishkek(Sep2008)

We arrive in Bishkek on a Friday, and it’s already late afternoon as we’re trying to find our way to a cheap guest house. The last 700km have been mildly concerning: I was riding with a knowingly damaged rear shock absorber, and every time I put the bike on the side stand, I noticed the rear end of the Dakar going lower and lower, until there was probably not a single drop of oil left in the hydraulic dampening of the bike. But I made it – so all good.

After asking for the way to the guest house a few times, Len and I get separated in the maze of intersections on Bishkek’s roads. As I arrive at our planned destination, the first person I encounter is an old friend whom I last met in Uzbekistan: Salva, a fellow traveller who’s been cycling in Africa and Asia for the past 2 years. The second person I meet is Gubi, another motorcyclist who’s just come from Mongolia. Gubi hears about my rear shock problem and kindly offers me a hand in fixing it: he enjoys a bit of mechanics, he says, and appears to be very keen to fix my bike problem the best way he can.

I’m in a bit of a rush, trying to get to the local UPS office before they close for the weekend. Thanks to Salva, who kindly lends me some money for picking up my parcel, there’s no need for a cash machine right now and I arrive at the UPS office just in time, after the taxi-driver couldn’t find it for half an hour.

12_Changing the rear shock-(Sep2008)

So, with the help of UPS Bishkek I’d like to get the parcel out of customs. Preferably before the week-end, to get the bike fixed in case we get the “go” for China on short notice. “Not possible” I’m told. But they’ll try to do their best to get through to customs on Saturday. At last I’m finally dealing with someone who’s helpful, seems to be on my side and understands the urgency of this.

10_...new shock fitted (thanks to fellow traveller Gubi!)(Sep2008)

As expected, I receive the rear shock absorber no sooner than Monday. Still no good news from China, though, and whilst Gubi and I are busy working ourselves through the BMW repair manual to change the shock, Len sets off to inquire with some local shipping agencies: we agreed to ship from Kyrgyzstan to Thailand. If we shipped to India or Pakistan, we’d have to ship again from there to Thailand, as Burma/Myanmar is a no-go for motorcycles. The only other option we have comes from a contact from Horizons Unlimited (probably the best website for overland motorcyclists): a contact there managed to get himself and his bike from Kyrgyzstan to India for a real bargain: with a small cargo airline (Galaxy Air) on an even smaller IL-18 turbo-prop machine – bike tied to the side of the airplane interior. (Check out this video from a fellow overland motorcyclist who did this last year). Now THAT would be a real adventure! Options for India are open again it seems…