The last 5 days we spent in bishkek in the tunduk hostel., tunduk means north in kyrgyz and its also the name of the cross on top of the nomads yurts. And it is the symbol in the kyrgyz national flag. The hostel itself was the perfect place to hang out a few days and get visas done. It is run by a swiss dude who also stranded here a few months ago. The pool in the garden pays up for the bunk beds and in general the atmosphere is very family. Its like u hang out in a friends apartment who just comes around in the morning to make some delicious pancakes for you and otherwise isnt home for the whole day.
Where we havent met any adventurers so far - this place was full of it. Guys who biked here from switzerland, others hitchhiking the pamirs, or some proper 4x4 wheels going from korea to london. A great place for info and to exchange war stories.There was even a german guy who was walking the whole way to Bishkek with his two dogs in 2 1/2 years - crazy!
Here we hung out with Geoff and Buster. Australian and Swedish guys who take part in the Mongol Rally. Pretty cool thing where people go from london to Ulanbataar in tiny cars and shitty motorbikes. Geoff was going on his small 125 suzuki -the name of the bike: the whip... and Buster is having a red Fiat panda 4x4 - Big respect!
check out busters blog if you are interested
We had a great time. Running erands, fixing bikes and exploring the city, trying local food... Just felt really good to have vacation from travelling for a while.
Luxury problems - I know!
There are no motorbikes in the stans. We where really surprised... Everybody is probably on horseback... We still managed to find an awesome bike mechanic. Vitali. A russian force of nature who would just fix everything and wont give up till its perfect. He was riding bikes all over kyrgyzstan when he was younger and proudly gave us a picture of him in the goid old days and best wishes on our way.
The visas where somehow a mixed bag. Everybody traveling the stans complains about the fucked
up visa situation. Its a lucky draw when and if u get your visa and we had to do the kazak, uzbek and tadjik visa here in Bishkek. Lucky us. Kazakstan has an one year experiment running where
several countries dont need a visa anymore if u stay not longer than 15 days. Germany and italy are on the list! So one visa done with no effort! They should just have told us that in shanghai.
We would have saved lot of time, money and trouble... As we delayed our trip 10 days because of the kazak visa situation. For nothing.
We arrived friday night at the hostel so we had to wait till tuesday to go to the uzbek embassy. We heard lot of horror stories about this visa - but we got it on the spot! Something that is never heard of as far as i know. Lucky bastards again? Not so much!
The last visa -tadjikistan - was a bummer. They are closing their borders for the next three weeks for some political summit. So we cannot go into the pamirs and ride the famous pamir highway, which would have been a big highlight of the entire trip.
We are very Very VERY upset.
Mainly by the fact that u are pretty much helpless against these things and can do nothing more
than accept that one of the most epic parts of the trip is taken from you because of stupid political bullshit... Sucks!
Anyway. There is still a lot to be excited about down the road. Next stop Uzbekistan. But before we might exchange the bikes for horseback and explore the ancient silkroad town osh in kyrgyzstan.