Day 76. 1st August. To Osh and on towards Toktogul.

Kyrgyzstan is much gentler than Tajikistan. Still mountainous but without the snowy, jagged peaks towering above. The road is much gentler too. Perfect tar seal  and even has white lines! There are many villages but in the rural parts, yurts proliferate with horses, sheep and goats. We pass dozens of vehicles carrying hay.

This morning we were late starting. A bad night’s sleep. Lorries constantly rattling past. China is a major trading partner for Kyrgzstan. This is a route to the Chinese border. Trucks coming through loaded with goods and returning empty. Familiar story?

After lunch we reached Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second city. A bustling place with stalls at the road sides- most seem to sell melons! We found the bazaar – difficult to miss as it seems to sprawl everywhere. We needed to stock up with fruit and veg, so I ventured into the covered alleyways. A real Eastern bazaar. Sacks of every type of nut, spice and grain. Heaps of fruit and vegetables. Fully provisioned we hit the road heading towards Bishkek, the capital. It’s too far to travel today. We hoped to get to Toktogul, but we were too late starting.

Dennis was so pleased to be able to get up a bit of speed on a good road surface, we were getting along famously. Oh dear, Mr Plod was there holding out his red and white baton telling us to stop. We drew in next to him and to a speed camera on a tripod. Dennis was summoned from the Land Rover. A lot of hand shaking, saluting, gesticulating and laughter. We were doing 77 in a 60 zone. A telling off and on we went. About an hour later, same story. Another cop pulling us over. This one was not so nice. Wanted to see Dennis’s passport, driving licence and the car documents. 73 in a 50 zone. Dennis gave him NZ$20 and he was happy – the fine was Som 1000, so about right. The problem is there are signs telling you when  speed limits start, but not when they end. You think you are out of the built up zone and you’re not and there’s a policeman with a camera waiting for you.

We are now parked for the night on a terrace a distance below the road, so hopefully it will be a better night. Dark clouds and a thunderstorm are threatening though.


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