Jun 19 2008
After three days in Atyrau I finally meet again Olivier ‘rouk’ and Olivier ‘petit jedi’. We will be leaving tomorrow together to face hundreds of kilometres in the deserted steppe. We have been warned that the road ahead towards the Aral sea (or what’s left of it) is of very poor quality. Our main concern is the sand which would make our progress extremely difficult. I’ve sent back home 2kg of unnecessary stuff (old maps, a russian dictionary, a few bike tools, a computer mouse!) to try to save a bit of weight and room on my bike. For some reason 2kg was too much for the Kazakh post to handle and they had to split the parcel in two. It only took 1h30 and £15 to complete the process (faster and cheaper than in Russia!) and I will be pleasantly surprised if the two parcels ever arrive in France!
On the red tape front, the two Oliviers have tried to register their tourist visas today and also got out 4 hours later with only a 10 days registration. I think we won’t bother with it anymore and see what happens when we get out of the country (GULAG?)
Our plan is to head towards Almaty where we will get a visa for Kyrgyzstan (scrabble bonus) and then cycle to Bishkek. From there we will see… China is still not an option for now: I would need a 3 months visa to cycle through the country and you can barely get one month nowadays. I am thinking about cycling back home through a few more stans (Uzbek and Turkmen), Iran and Turkey. More visa headaches in sight!
Another option would be to fly from Bishkek to somewhere else on Earth…
I have the feeling that there will be a lot of adventurers stuck in Bishkek this year!
My themarest replacement is still stuck in Almaty and my attempts to contact the local UPS representative have so far been unsuccessful. Maybe they will keep it long enough for me to pick it up there in a few weeks.