Raining on my beach day

It was already August 24th, only 5 days before China and I wanted to spend a couple of days by the famed Issyk Kul lake so I headed back on the Eastern road, the same I had taken to come from Song Kul, on my way to Richard’s camp site from the previous days. I had the coordinates so it should be an easy job, if only my GPS and my phone charger hadn’t broken somewhere in Uzbekistan (the GPS maybe before, Astrakhan I think). But there I was, speeding through the Kyrgyz roads, not fearing any policeman. I had already been stopped once and I had been let go with a reprimand and an instruction to go slower. And then I see once more, the orange rod pointing at me and telling me to pull over. Since the police officer spoke a bit of English, the following conversation ensued:

Police: What speed were you going?
Me: 70
P: It’s too fast
M: What’s the maximum speed?
P: 40
M: Oh, maybe I was going 40
P: No, cars are going 40. You overtake cars, you going faster
M: Oh… (you smart, me not like)
P: You pay shtraf?
M: What?
P: Money
M: No
P: Why?
M: Because I didn’t know
P: Oh, go slowly then. Where are you going?
M: To Issyk Kul
Police: From here to Issyk Kul, maybe 50 or 60 km/h
Me: Thank you! – I said while I accelereated back to 70 kph

Lorraine and Dozer
Met Lorraine on the way to Issyk Kul
Issyk Kul was still more than 200km away so it was out of the question that I follow his instructions. Somewhere along the way I met Lorraine so a brief stop was mandatory to introduce ourselves, she’s also part of the China group and the 5th I meet, still 4 to go. We had a short chat by the side of the road, she was on the way to Bishkek to get a bigger gas tank for her new bike and I was going the opposite way and still a long way from my destination.

I did get there around 5PM after stopping for some late lunch on shore, only to find the supposed camp site occupied by locals enjoying the lake so I decided there could be no better activity than some exercise and I dropped my bike in the sand. That always implies some sweating and swearing.

Bike nap
My bike decided to take a nap in the sand
Not happy with the result I asked some locals to help me pick it up and started turning it around so that I could get out of the sandy area and wait for Richard and the other on a harder surface but not before bogging down the bike in the sand so deep that I had absolutely no idea of what to do with it.

In too deep
Deep trouble
Not long after, Richard finally appeared and he knew what to do: push it to the side, cover the hole and then put it back upright. The others (Chris and Neil) had stayed at Iain’s camp site not very far from there. We set up camp and were almost ready to start cooking and enjoying an evening by the lake when a huge storm hit the lake and we had to move the tents from the shore to a sheltered spot in between some bushes and go to bed without supper (and with wet clothes).

It’s not the first rain I’ve seen and it’s certainly not the first time it’s rained when I have decided to take a rest at the beach (remember Sunny Beach and Sinop). Maybe I’ll be luckier in South East Asia?

 

 

Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand

Liberating liters

Ever since I’ve started planning this trip, the most used unit of measure has not been, as one could expect, the kilometer. It’s been the liter.

At first it was all about the gas tank on the bike. The more liters the better, it would mean more autonomy for the bike. More kilometers until I have to push it to the next gas station. So that’s all good.

Then came the luggage choices. Here the liters appear again. Pannier volume here, tankbag size there. And the top case. I’m up to 155 liters of luggage. A tough decision because the more you carry, the heavier the bike and also more gas consumption. But I opted for the biggest panniers thinking that at some point I may become reasonable and throw most of the contents away. I’m not saying it has happened, but it might.

And then came the trash bags. Yes, trash bags. When you are leaving for one year, you want to make sure that you leave as little as possible behind because everything you want to keep goes into storage, paid storage. If you keep this book, you may not be able to afford that meal at the end of your trip that you’ve been longing for kilometers and kilometers. So, with that magic stop at the 5 & Diner in Tulsa, OK along Route 66 in mind I set off on the impossible task of emptying my apartment of all non-essencial. So far, with the help of my wonderful friend Alice, I’ve given 350 liters of clothes and 50 liters of shoes to charity, I’ve thrown away 300 liters of paper and other useless stuff and have prepared 60 more liters of various bags and old backpacks to give to charity tomorrow. And it’s quite liberating.

Liters in the tank are freedom to roam for a longer time, liters in the luggage mean I can carry more stuff. But the liters and liters of things I’m getting rid of are liberating. They are as important at the moment as the books that are in the boxes that you can see in the picture. Those I’m keeping!

Paris, Île-de-France, France