To my true Canadian spirit the bear statue called. Grasped in its claws, a cement rendition of meat on a stick – shashlik – calling not to my spirit, but to my stomach. I was in Kazakhstan, I was hungry, and I needed a place to sleep. Effective reconnaissance of the latter can sometimes be completed over a leisurely meal. Continue reading
A riddle: What do a barn piled with hay, a field nearby a police checkpoint and a stretch of riverbank across from Afghanistan all have in common? Continue reading
Well. Truth be told, the biggest hesitation I had about strapping my backpack to the back of my bicycle was that people would judge me for the amateur I am. I pictured something like this: Girl, trying to repair flat tire while vomiting from altitude sickness, in a snow storm, on the shoulder of a dirt road on a mountain pass with nothing but a big ole’ backpack tied down and jutting off of the back of her bike like a porpoise strapped to a smartcar. They’d be like ‘girl is out of her league!’ And maybe they’d be right – but I was going anyway. So I needed panniers to talk the talk while I learned to walk the walk.
The late afternoon rain had started as the driver dumped us and our bags at the restaurant by the road. He seemed to think it was a suitable spot to end the trip; we figured a random restaurant was as good as anywhere to plan our next move. He had overcharged us for the two hour ride from Bishkek to near Toktogul Lake. Perhaps that’s why he gave us a small vial of his cologne before parting ways. Ilona lacks a smelling nerve (no, really) so only I could appreciate that strange treat.