We are the terrors

tall trees planted in rows in a park, a kyrgyz man with a toque in the far right of the photo

A park’s caretaker, far right, approaches to find out why we are trying to break into a yurt near Osh, Krygyzstan

Generally I narrate my life story back to myself with me as a protagonist. But if everyone’s doing that, the people we meet on the road may cast me as the idiot, the callous foreigner, the terror. They might even have good reasons to do so (1,400 words).  Continue reading

For Evan I returned to Central Asia

For the last year or so I’ve ended up keeping my intentions of travelling westward, overland and primarily alone. The route has doodled itself over the map, hardly in a straight line, but the general theme has stuck. Not that it really matters – the delight is usually in the detours. However, back in November I decided to make a significant route change, and made plans to fly out of Istanbul.

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Dear Ilona

Truly, the Maitian Hostel threw me in front of individuals who were to change the course of the journey I am undertaking. It was at this hostel, a relaxed haven from the armed guards and tanks of Urumqi, China that I met both Gonzalo and Ilona. I joined the former – a hitchhiker famous among his Argentine countrymen and women – the day after we met for six hundred kilometres of thumbing through China’s far northwest. However, my journey with Ilona wasn’t to start so quickly. We agreed to rendezvous in a few weeks time, in a different country and a different region, for a two thousand kilometre bicycle ride.

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My jugs

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.

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One hundred kilometres of bicycle travel

All ready to go, just before we left our host's lovely spot in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

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.

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