Picking people up

We started by going down the mountain and back into the city again.

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We looked for a mechanic so that we could refill grease in the cars. We also looked for a weapon shop as we tried to find some archery equipment. We could not find any bows, though, but a lot of different guns.

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We managed to find a mechanic close to where we parked as we looked for the weapon shop, and while the cars were getting greased, the rest of us explored the shopping mall close by. It was a three story shopping mall, with lots of arcades on the top, and even bumper cars! I bought a kinder egg and some ice tea, while surfing around the web and waiting for the cars to get done.

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After that, we finally went to the hostel. We met up with Catharina, Joakim and Eric, who would follow us for the next three weeks!

We went out for lunch, as everyone were really hungry since it was three o’clock. We went to a pretty nice place, where Pontus and Björn had been eating a couple of times while they were waiting for us.

The rest of the day I stayed at the hostel. We started with some laundry, and everybody started showering, as there had been some days since last time. I wrote four-five blog posts as I was behind schedule (and always will be). While using the computer and checking my junk mail, I saw a mail I had received from the booking of the Yurt camp, where he had told us to contact him for information about navigating there. As it had gone to the junk mail we had not seen it, but that was a little late now.

I met a really nice guy at the hostel, named Zack, who had been traveling abroad from the US for three years, with a small brake for one christmas. He had been living in Malaysia for six months and had been travelling to most of Asia and a little bit of everywhere in the world. Really cool guy, and I had a pleasant time talking to him!

For dinner, we ordered pizza with delivery to the hostel. Some went away to buy something to drink, and while away, the owner of the hostel, Chris, asked ”What soda do you want to your pizzas?”. I said coke and fanta, and he came back again; ”There is seven bottles.How do you want to mix it?”. We ended up with too much soda, and the pizzas were twice the size we were used to, so we could not manage eat up that either.

After staying up until two o´clock, chatting with Björn and Pontus and writing on the blog, I stole Björns old bed in the room with AC. He would sleep inside as he would have to leave at half past four, which suited me perfect – the room without AC were too hot, and sleeping outside had been my backup plan too.

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Swimming horse

I did feel better when I wake up, even if I did not feel good. The nausea was gone, and my stomach did not really hurt anymore. I also managed to start eating again, even if it was not the most pleasant thing, and in the evening that part started feeling like normal.
As it was a resting day, there were nothing planned. Some went up in the mountains to the place the Yurt camp were supposed to be, but did not manage to find anything.
I stayed in camp, and continued on Pokémon, which I had not touched in over a week. At least I rested well, and got to sleep many hours during the night and afternoon before.

  
In the afternoon, we played some card games for a while. I had to go to the bathroom too many times during the day, but otherwise I could at least rest, even if I felt unhygienic and dirty. The river was too lively, so you could only splash by the side of it.

  
Suddenly, we had a horse in our camp, and later another one got pushed over the river by its shepherd. They had their forelegs tied, probably so they would not be able to run away. They seemed to become friends, or at least help each other keep the flies out of each other face the rest of the day, until one of them got fetched.

  
  
I also played around with the ND-filter for my camera, and I think the result was pretty nice!
  
It was a pity I did not feel this a little little earlier, as I could have stayed in the hostel instead, with a real toilet, shower and AC. This was a typical happening that made it feel bad going in a group like this, as I otherwise could have turned when I started feeling bad. At least I got the positive part, with the group setting camp, cooking food and fixing whatever needed to be fixed! 

  

Silver and mountains

Down the mountain and into Bishkek, we drove to the hostel where we would sleep in a few nights. There, we picked up the long lost Pontus again, and also Björn, who would stay with us for a few days. The hostel seemed really nice with a pool, washing machine and all, and I think we will have some good days here later!
As this was more or less half the trip we went to change the oil and clean the cars. Because of all the dust we have been driving through, every time you put something inside the car, it gets dirty, including ourselves.

   
 We found out there were a lunch place on the same place we were washing the cars, and decided to order our food there to save time, as they could have it ready when we were ready.

  
After lunch we headed outwards from the city. We were headed for the Yurt Camp, and as we did not know how much food they would have, we wanted to have a backup. Once again, they started out not believing us when we told them that we wanted big volumes of everything, but after we emptied their stock of water, I think they understood. We also bought some ice creams, but pretty soon after eating it I started to feel bad.
We drove 80 kilometres east, before heading south, up into the mountains. We had another 40 kilometre to the Yurt camp, and passed bad roads and unstable bridges on the way. We started climbing, and passed 2000 metres after a while. Now, we encountered problems, though.
There were a big hole where the road used to be, and a couple of digging machines around it. After talking with the people working there, we got it clear that they had made findings of silver and gold, and decided that the road were not that important. He told us about another road, which we decided to try, not knowing if it was the same Yurt camp or not.
After driving down for a while, and continuing on another road up again, we were pretty sure that this places did not exist within comfortable reach, and as we did not have any clue if they still existed at all, we decided to skip it. We found a nice spot by a river where we put up camp.
As my stomach had gotten worse, with some nausea and stomach pains, I stayed in the back of the car and slept. I did not feel like having dinner at all, and therefore skipped it, sleeping until I went up to brush my teeth and go sleep in the tent instead. 

Living with strangers

  
Now, we aimed for the border to Kyrgyzstan! On the way there we got stopped by the police, and the one checking me was also born in 1991, which he thought was really funny!

While driving though a city, we drove past a really tight road. We really had to crush some bushes to come thorugh!

  
When we arrived at the border everyone but the ones driving the cars had to walk over. It went pretty quick, but on the other side we had to wait for the cars instead. I bought a Pepsi and a Snickers while trying to spend the time. I also called home to my parents to get an update from home, as I haven’t talked with them since I left. At least they are taking caring of themselves and my apartment!
When the cars had passed, we got to hear that the guards had checked our cameras, and they found some pictures really funny; more specific, the ones with five of us without pants on the peak we had climbed. No problem with the missile base-pictures or anything, at least!

  
We took out money, and discovered that most ATMs don’t take MasterCard. Too bad my bank switched earlier, so I have two banks with MasterCard. We went and ate lunch anyway, planning to solve it later. They had glasses with badly written motivators on it!

  

I went outside and asked some older ladies about an ATM. The closest one were apparently the one we had visited, so I had to wait.

  
There were a national park we had in mind to check out but as we came there we saw what we anticipated: no camping allowed. We drove down the road a bit and tried one of the smaller roads, but it did not seem to go anywhere else than to people’s houses. There were two elder people who came walking, and I tried to ask for a place to sleep at. They signed that they would show us, and we took them with us in the cars and drove to their home.
They offered us to sleep inside (probably for a pay) but we managed to tell them we have the tents and the cars. We spent the afternoon with their two children, and also a guy on a horse appeared, and offered us some horseback riding for a small amount. Jakob did a fireshow!

I had a really great time, and I am glad I talked with those people, as we otherwise don’t get interaction with the locals in the same way.

    

  

 
   

  

  

   

                         

Punctures and burned shirts

After a beautiful morning we went over the mountain pass. We passed a ruin which we drove to check out, and met a family who lived down from the ruin. They told us about a waterfall nearby, and after checking out the ruin we continued along the road until we came to an end. Jakob went looking for the waterfall, but as he could not find anything, we decided to drive back.

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We had lunch on the steppe, and actually got some rain and thunder today. It was pretty chilly, but I would not define it as cold, before the rain came down upon us.
The roads were better than expected and we got ahead pretty fast. As it started raining even more we decided to eat out instead of cooking our own food.

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We met a couple of drunkards at the place, and one of them were pretty annoying, trying to talk with us all the time while waiting for the food.

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When backing out, it went pretty slow, and we discovered a puncture in the rear-left tire of the defender.

DSC_6615We started to change the tire, and found out we had a mechanic on the other side. While changing tire, we rolled over the punctured tire to get it fixed on the other side. They did it pretty fast and pretty cheap, and we tried to talk with them in the meantime!

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The spot we decided to camp at for the night had a really nice background view to look at while playing some card games.
My shirt had started to rip too much, which was understandable. I got it second hand from one of my hosts during the bike trip, who I lived at in Belgium. I think the sun during those trips has not been nice to it, and weakened it during all this time. I gave it a nice end at least! (Thank you for the shirt, Anne and Didier! The shirt has been a really good travel companion!)

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Dragonflies, high peaks and rainbows

First thing this morning, we drove by a ruin city named Sauran. The city were used during the Silk Road, being a capital city of the Mongols during the 1500s. It was not well taken care of, and I think some parts are re-built afterwards, but it was pretty cool to see.DSC_6416 DSC_6419 DSC_6429

The next stop were in Turkistan, where we first bought more food and wate. Next, we went to a pharmacy for hand sanitiser and also new earrings for me as I managed to lose one. The guy answered yes on all the questions (Do you speak english? How much are these?), but seemed to know more or less no english. He went to another place to buy earrings, and the second time I followed him there so I could get what I needed. We also bought grilled chicken and bread outside, before a police told us we could not park there, and we had to drive to another place to eat.

One of our later plans were to live in a Yurt camp, so we tried to find a place with wifi so we could book. While filling up gas, I went over to a big Hyundai car saloon to look for wifi, and actually managed to find some. We booked while the locals were talking loudly with us, one of them wanting to guide us to Kyrgyzstan. Michael got to taste fermented horse milk of some friendly local!

When we finally were on our way again, we went outside the city to eat without being disturbed. We managed to find a really good place for bathing, so we could wash ourselves, and also do a quick wash of some clothes! We had a great time, playing in the streams and just relaxing.

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Our plan were to take a short cut over the mountains. On the way we saw a really good-looking spot, and after driving around a little we settled down there. The afternoon were spent climbing the mountains, which was really cool. We managed to get to a pretty nice peak, which opened up for some fine photography possibilities!

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During dinner, we got swarmed again, but this time by dragonflies! We also got a rainbow for dinner, which showed up really neatly.

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Baikonur Cosmodrome

We did not do much today, as the earlier days of bad roads took longer than expected. Therefore, this day was more of a transport day!
At lunch time we were close to the Russian rent part of Kazakstan, Baykonur, where every space launch from Russia and Soviet was launched. We ate lunch at the kind of Russian city close by, and drove by close enough to get some photos!

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We had some problems buying gas in Kyzylorda, but at the third try we found a petrol station, which of course has a big line as everyone wanted to fill up gas there.
When we tried to find a camp, we first found ourselves following a canal and then going in a circle back to the highway. The second time we went off, we managed to find a secluded place in between some dunes!

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When Jakob is too tired to drive, Jackiie takes over!

Sand dunes and hot springs

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During the morning we passed really close to the Arak lake. We walked to the salty water, and I have to admit that before yesterday I thought it would be much smaller.

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Close to lunch, we passed some sand dunes, and took the chance to drive through them instead of around. It was some fun off road driving, and we stopped for lunch in the middle.

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After passing a small town we found a hot spring, which we did not know about! Apparently, the hot water would heal you if you swam 30 minutes in it, or something like that, but you were not supposed to drink it. We met lots of people there, and one of them could speak English. If I recall correctly she were there with her class from school, 11th form. Everyone wanted us to be on photos with them, so I got to take many pictures!

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Later, we were closing in on one of the consequences of the rapidly shrinking Aral lake, the ships left stranded when the lake disappeared. On our way out there a motorbike chased us, to tell us to follow them and swim somewhere, we think. They left soon, though.

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We got ourselves really cool photos of the ship, and also the camels underneath it!

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In the evening I tried myself against Hampus in some wrestling, but of course, I lost. It was fun, at least!

Bad stomaches everywhere

I woke up with a little rumbling in my stomach, and had to go out pretty fast. Apparently it was not only me; more than half the camp were bad. Our thoughts were of the lunch yesterday. As we got served really fast, it may have been pretty bad grilled.

We are pretty used to people coming by and saying hello, even though we don’t understand each other at all. Today, there were a guy on a motorbike driving over the steppe. He even gave me a ride around, which just made me want to take my own motorbike somewhere even more.

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We finally arrived at the Aral lake, or what is left of it at least. We had dinner at a small peak with something that looked like a memorial, where you could also spot what looked like old ships. There would be too much of a reroute to visit them, though.

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The rest of the day, I just tried to sleep, with the stomach making me well aware of it.

I woke up when we arrived at the stay for the night, at the bottom of a small hill. We went up to take a look, but you could not really see anything. I felt pretty exhausted by that small trip, though. Daniel made a small art piece while on the top.

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We ended the evening with discussing the worst/most stupidly things we had done in our lives. It was a great evening, even if I didn’t feel really well.

Dust and grilled chicken

 I drove down from the mountain, and we continued on the pretty bad road. We passed a small river, so that was the first eye I drove through here!

  
There were not really much to do or see on the way, so we drove until we arrived in a city where we were going to eat lunch, shop and fill up gas in. As we wanted to save on time, we split in three groups; I and Mikael went to order food at a place we saw on the way. On the way there, we saw a pretty cool mosque.

  
We managed to order food for ten people, and then the two guys at the place started talking with us. They wanted to take photos of us with our cameras, and to take selfies with their cameras.

   
We got the food pretty quick, to our surprise. So far, we always had to wait at least half an hour, but today it was fifteen minutes. We contacted the others through radio and SMS so that they would know the lunch was ready.

  
The only small problem, is that we only seemed to get three plates for ten people, which would be nowhere as much as we needed. We tried to order two big plates more, but got one smaller plate, probably for two people. After a third order, we thought it would at least be food enough, and gave up on ordering more.
When we were done eating, we took the chance to fill up our ”shower bags” with tap water, a total of 80 litres of water.
We continued on (or the side of) the not-so-good road. On the way, we picked up every bigger piece of wood we could find, as we were going to grill tonight!

  
As it does not rain much down here, there were dust everywhere in the air, and while driving it really went everywhere.

   
 
When we arrived at our camp for the night out in the nowhere, we started collecting whatever burning material we could find. Emil and I found a big log, pretty dry, which we also brought to the camp. It was really easy to find easy-burning material to start with, which also makes you look like an elk!

  
I started the fire, and then me and Emil grilled the chicken the others had cut up. The log didn’t really burn, but the other material we had were enough!