Summer time = kumis time! Fresh mare's milk is given out in liter bottles on the road side.
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Our friend for one of the long climbs. He shortly grew bored of us and sped off on his donkey, leaving us in the dust pushing our bikes.
Traveling by bicycle has it’s vulnerabilities, and that is part of the adventure. It has been a rare occasion that we have felt unsafe on this trip, especially by a person-to-person interaction. Mostly fearing for our lives has stemmed from crazy drivers, steep cliff drops, or aggressive dogs. We were so grateful that nothing happened, and maybe it was all in our heads, but this was the first time our gut had us on high alert. Even though there’s usually a language barrier, it has become easy to read people and their intentions. Given we’ve been on the road for almost a year, through 11 countries with countless interactions, the world has proven itself to be good, kind, and safe. But always trust your gut.
In a whole mess of mud slipping and sliding down the mountain we almost crashed into a herd of yak and a group of some rough looking dudes. They immediately motioned for a cigarette and sneered when we didn’t have any. After telling them we were American they start asking for “dollars” and laughing eyeing us and our gear. After one of the drunk guys tried to kiss me, we quickly got a move on. Both left feeling uneasy about the group, we decide to find a more hidden campsite; a difficult task when there are no trees and you can see for miles in all directions. We push up a small road and over a small hill mostly hidden from the main road. Many times I have cursed our stupidly obvious bright orange tent, but this time was the most profane. The men's rickety truck rattled back down the road after we had set up, and stopped, we sat up looking around. Everything could be heard in the dead silence of the valley. It was almost dark, we shot out from our tent, crawled up the hill on our bellies to see where the truck had stopped. We had already redistributed our money, passports, etc just in case, but no ones ever really ready to get robbed…or worse. I held my breath as we listened to them talking and walking around directly below us, then a car door slams and they’re driving back down our small road to the main road. We don’t move until they are far away and out of sight. What the hell were they doing? There was literally nothing up this small road but us. Did they know we were here? We tuck ourselves back in our sleeping bags and settle in for a sleepless night. Luckily, it starts storming again and I smile “No one would rob us in this weather!”
In such wide open spaces you can see storms brewing hours before they hit. Every day by late afternoon we would run from storms, getting as far as we could before dark clouds swallowed up the closest of mountains, the signal to stop, set up camp, take a nap for a few hours while it rained, sleeted, or hailed, then pack up and continue on.
Campsites in vast green meadows made me feel like the entire valley was our home. We had survived a couple more storms since leaving Barskoon pass.
Following the Little Naryn River did not disappoint, and we were treated to insanely beautiful, green steep gorges around every turn. I’m so glad we made the extra effort to ride it.
We ask farmers for a place to camp when we're close to houses and wild camping seems a bit too obvious. Many farms have old crumbling structures made from clay bricks, and many of the homes that looked abandoned were still in use.
Herders were often young boys that were curious to see who we were. Families in the mountains will bring up many villagers aniamls from the valleys below to graze as summer jobs, watching over all the herds.