Third Time's a Charm!!!
Trip Start May 2005
17Trip End Aug 2005
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The Chinese authorities, however, didn't think it was so prudent; and so yesterday started one of the more epic traveling days I've ever had.
6:30 AM: Arrived at the International Bus Station in Kashgar, to board the once-a-week sleeper bus for a 30 hour ride from Kashgar to Osh.
7:30 AM: They inform us that the bus is not going to go this week because of security concerns. Myself and 8 other foreingers(we are all very lucky there were so many of us) decide to take matters in our own hands and organise our own land transport to the Chinese border.
10:00 AM: We board a bus for the Chinese border. I enthusiastically, yet cynically holler "Step #1 of 32" as we drive out of Kashgar on our private bus.
around 12:00 PM: The bus really starts to smell like fumes, and the driver starts to slow down. I look over his shoulder and the temperature gauge is WAY past the red zone. He was completely clueless, and thanks to my chronic problems with my van's cooling system, I help him get the system filled up again with lots of dirty water(its all we had.)
12:45 PM: We start down the road again. A couple minutes later, our passports are checked the FIRST time by the Chinese authorities.
2:00 PM: We arrive at Chinese Passport control to find the power out and a line of Italian mountaineers waiting to get through the border
3:00 PM: We finally leave the Chinese Passort Control Center and they put us in the back of a closed, wooden box-truck to take us across no-mans land to the Kyrgyz border. It felt like we were on the way to the gas chambers and was a weird feeling to be in a wooden box, with just little holes to look throgh. Oh, yeah, and the Chinese checked our passports for the SIXTH, SEVENTH and EIGHTH times while we were enclosed in the box-truck.
4:00 PM: We are finally in Kyrgyzstan!!! I find myself in the most depressing town I have ever seen. Old rusty box-cars and trans-oceanic crates for homes, violent drunk people and an apparent 8 year old girl asking me for a smoke. Once again, though, luck is in our favor...the Italian mountaineers had requested that a GIANT truck similar to a giant Hum-Vee meet them at the border. Once we explained to the driver that they werent coming, he agreed to take us to Osh.
5:00 PM: 13 of us board the giant Kazam truck, and start on our way to Osh
5:00-12:00 PM: We plod our way through some of the most majestic scenery I have ever seen. Huge deep green rolling hills, with the Pamir mountains lining them to the south. Along the way are Kyrgyz nomadic people with their sheep, horses and yurts. This was the real McCoy, folks. The road was so bad, though that it took us these 7 hours to go about 120 kilometers...slow going, and BUMPY. Three of the seats in the truck broke en route.
1:00 AM: We arrive at a small family run establishment and have a simple dinner among restless jokes and sarcasm and amazement that we actually made it as far as we did that day. It was hard, but everything was going our way!!!
2:00 AM: Finally, we lay down in the yurts to sleep. I don't think anyone had trouble sleeping that night.
12:00 Today: We all split up. It's funny how people can pull together to get something done, hardly even know anyone's name, and then just go their own way the next day. I guess that's one of the things I love about traveling.....
So, here I am in Kyrgyzstan. I have about two weeks to do some trekking around Lake Yssyk-Kul before I have to start making my way back towards Shanghai and Seattle. So, although I have only been in Osh about 6 hours, tomorrow I hop in a taxi for the 15 hour ride to Bishkek to load up for my Kyrgyz trekking adventures....