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Current Location : Gilgit, North Pakistan
Last entry date : 11 June 2008

Young boys competing in a horserace in Qarqara, Eastern Kazakhstan

26/May/08 to 27/May/08

It would have been nice to linger around Karakol or Eastern Kyrgyzstan for a few more days (sleep in the guesthouse or just watch the crow show, for example). But somehow months before I had chose to use to Jarkent Kazakhstan / Korgas China border as crossing point. I have 2 days to get there for my meeting with the bike’s Chinese clearing agent on the 28th May. That means re-entering Kazakhstan (thanks to my double entry visa) via the tiny northeastern border crossing of Krygyzstan.

The ride to Jarkent Kazakhstan, some 400+ kms away, was going to be a long ride. While the ride was scenic, the most memorable view was that hole-in-the-ground toilet facing the roadside out in the Kyrgyz countryside (see photo in earlier post). The young Canadian couple on bicycles had warned me about the road conditions to and after the border. Yes, it was bad. If it had rained, some of the long and lonely dirt road stretches would have been unpassable. The border is so tiny and out in the middle of nowhere its not even shown on my map. I remembered on arrival at the Kyrgyz exit border the young soldier actually said the controller was sleeping. So he let me skip that station.

Out in the Kazakh countryside, animals and horses re-appeared. At the end of a long dirt track I arrived at Qarqara where I chanced upon a local horseracing event amongst the counties. They are big on horses here. The young horse riders were going all out in the race – it must have a big prize name that make the winner county very proud for a while.

From high mountains the route takes me into the desert plains as I took a shortcut towards Jarkent. At 18.00hrs I reached Jarkent. 2 young Kazaks brought me to a hotel but it was fully occupied, except for the suite. Next thing I know, one of them Mr. Kuanysh, proposed that I stay the night in his house. We had the bike parked in his garage, and for the next 3 hours with his friend, they brought me out to eat, drink, taste horse milk and cheese, etc… Suddenly I was their guest. The milk and cheese were very salty – they didn’t mind I did not gulp them down.

The next day 27th May, I went to the border knowing I was a day early. The Chinese agent could not come at such a short notice. There I met up again with Mr. Kuanysh as he was going across into China for some business. He proposed that I stay at his home another night, but I had to refuse and went back into Jarkent, 40km away, where I found a Russian style hotel in the city centre. That afternoon, the hotel receptionist came and propose to me to meet her family for dinner. I accepted. The receptionist’s family said if I had come in winter, the Kazakh will kill an animal and prepare a sumptuous meal for their guest – ie me !! Now I understand Mr. Kuanysh & Mr Suyunduk, the Kazakh whom I met earlier in Taraz. Big hearts they have, these Kazakhs. This is something special I remember of them in my brief passage through Kazakhstan.

13 Responses to « Something special about Kazakhstan (part 2)  »

  1. You are getting us glued to this site with wonderful photos ….. do take note of the road conditions at this stage and also take care of your bike too!


  2. Hi Sheen,

    When you’re riding on you bike think of this song – “Rawhide”. I have the wording for you.

    Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
    Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
    Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
    Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

    Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
    Though the streams are swollen
    Keep them doggies rollin’

    Rain and wind and weather
    Hellbent for leather
    Wishin’ my gal was by my side
    All the things I’m missin’
    Good vittals, love and kissin’
    Are waiting at the end of my ride

    Move ’em on, head ’em up
    Head ’em up, move ’em on
    Move ’em on, head ’em up
    Count ’em out, ride ’em in
    Ride ’em in, count ’em out
    Count ’em out, ride ’em in

    Keep movin’, movin’, movin’
    Though they’re disapprovin’
    Keep them doggies movin’
    Don’t try to understand ’em
    Just rope ’em, pull and brand ’em
    Soon we’ll be living high and wide
    My hearts calculatin’
    My true love will be waitin’
    Be waitin’ at the end of my ride


    Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
    Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

    Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
    Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

    Stay save, buddy.

    Take care.

  3. Hello all you visitors,

    I am just finding out myself there are some great photos and great places out there!! Thanks Henry, I can just hum the tune.

    For info, crossed from China via the Kunjerab pass 4700mtrs into Northern Pakistan 2 days ago. The Karakoram highway in this area is terribly wonderful to ride (and dangerous too). The road is carved out of high mountains and there is constant risk of rockfalls and landslides. Very wild area with villages and nice people here.


  4. Siew Hoon & Victoria12 June 2008 à 12:11 pm

    Hi- Sheen,
    Beautiful photos and nice people.Thanks for letting us know that you have arrived safely in Northern Pakistan. Thinking of you as you continue your journey. Take care.

  5. Very beautiful pictures! the little miss is so cute! take care in pakistan my daddy

  6. hi sheen,

    i am regularly following your blog. the pics and the esseys are beautiful. it is nice to know there are good people all around the world.

    btw i got your e-mail. thanks a lot. i am planning to ride to morocco next year not the rtw. i will visit you on my way to morocco;) i have to save more for rtw if i couldn’t find sponsor.

    i have moved to istanbul on monday. so you and your family always welcome!

    ride safe
    ozhan u.

  7. Kenny and Cecilia13 June 2008 à 5:37 pm

    Hello Sheen,
    Exciting and Informative updates.Beautifully taken photographs of so many friendly people and their different ways of life that we are learning about.How unforgetable your journey has been so far – looking forward to even more updates and photographs…
    Continue to Enjoy yourself,Take Care and God Bless.

  8. les traductions arrivent…j’ai pris un peu de retard 🙁 En fait j’ai passé trop de temps à regarder toutes ces belles photos! désolé

  9. Hello Uncle Sheen,
    I heard you wrote to my mother a few days ago? I frequently check your website and read about your journey. At the moment I am very busy visiting day care centers in Guatemala. Last night I saw the match between Netherlands and France. 4-1 right :)? Very beautiful pictures you have taken!!!

  10. Horse racing is just as exciting as bicycle racing. I noticed bicycle racing is very popular in Malaysia because I saw some newspaper articles about some races in Segamat and Penang. Those who win must feel a great sense of achievement. I wonder if any of the winners will participate in the Olympics.
    Ride safely,


  11. Coucou mon parrain!
    How are you?
    I must wrote something in english to show you I improved it!! haha
    Je suis super fière de toi, ton voyage à l’air magnifique, très épanouissant on aura plein de choses à se raconter quand on se reverra.
    J’ai parlé avec Lydia hier sur skype (elle a mangé à Fréjus) et je te rassure elle est en pleine forme hihi, je sais ca au nombre de blagues qu’elle raconte (plein!!!)
    Ton ami a raison tu devrais te recycler dans le journalisme ou la photo car tes photos sont magnifiques et ton site très bien écrit!
    J’espère avoir bientôt de tes nouvelles. En attendant profites bien de ton périple.
    Nous avec Freek on part faire le tour de l’Australie dans 2 semaines j’ai hâte!
    Gros gros bisous!!! Ta filleule qui t’aime

  12. Mon ptit papa, juste un petit mot pour te dire que je pense a toi!!! je viens de reregarder tout le blog. il est fantastique, encore merci de nous faire partager tout ca. Gros bisous.

  13. Hi Sheen,

    Even those who do not travel to the places you have been to can still enjoy the scenery from the photos you posted.
    Well done, keep it up. Looking forward to see more photographs

    Also from Segamat.

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