What a crazy day it’s been!
After yet another cold night with snow, I waited for the sun to come out and warm the tent before moving.
Looking over the beautiful valley that I’d just ridden through was something special.
I was in the middle of nowhere and had this beautiful landscape all to myself.
By the time I was ready to move it was 10.30 am.
For the first time in days, I was able to start the day by riding the bike. Although it was gravel and rocky, my legs had built up some momentum and was finally able to ride on gravel roads.
I’d been told that there were plenty of abandoned towns along the road as it was the old trade route (silk road) with China. But they’d built new roads and thus many of the small 10 house towns had been abandoned.
Upon seeing my first one, I decided to ride over and have a look. To my surprise, there were about 6-8 dogs still there that were barking at me.
I wonder what they were eating?
The houses definitely looked like they’d been abandoned with broken glass, missing tiles and broken wood, the houses were barely standing.
To my complete surprise, a woman had heard all of the dogs barking and had come out of one of the houses.
How was she living here? There was no car or horses and we were away from civilisation by 100km in every direction.
A little frightened by the old woman, I decided to move on.
Actually being able to ride the bike, I’d ridden 50km before lunchtime.
That’s when everything became interesting…
As I was riding, I noticed a slab of concrete in the distance, in the middle of nowhere. Curiously, I decided to go over and have a look.
It turned out to be a bunker. Much like off the level on Goldeneye “Dam” where there are people shooting snipers and machine guns at you.
There were still sniper mounts, mounted to the cubby hole.
Could I have stumbled across an old soviet bunker? I mean the road I was riding along was called “old soviet road”.
Amazed that there was this old bunker in the middle of nowhere, I moved on.
Within another km or 2, I noticed some more concrete, so I went over to have a look.
I couldn’t believe it. I’d stumbled across a km long trench with about 30-40 old bunkers. It reminded me of the season of Black Adder when they spent the season living in their bunker in the trenches.
It was surreal and to think how far away from everything it was.
It was so hidden that I think 99 out of 100 people that drove past, would not have seen it.
There definitely weren’t any signs or anything.
In any other country, I’m sure it would have been a huge tourist attraction but here in Kyrgystan, it was just left behind and forgotten, only to be buried.
With the snow heavily falling as I was exploring the trenches, I thought that this must have been what it was like when people were posted here and living in the small bunkers.
It would have been a very cold winter!
An hour after I left the trenches, and as the weather continued to worsen, I was stopped by the first car I’d seen in 4 days.
It was 4 local guys who couldn’t believe I was riding my bike in the middle of nowhere as it was snowing.
They offered me warm chai tea, fresh bread and vodka.
One of the men was asking me if I’d had any contact with “pee-ratsa” while riding this far south.
He then moved his arms to signal someone shooting a gun.
“Pirates?” I asked
“Yes” he replied
Wow, I had no idea there were pirates around who could potentially hold me up at gunpoint and steal all my stuff.
I better be careful and on the lookout.
After about 15 minutes of broken conversation, and 4 shots of vodka later, I decided I better push on.
I bid my new friends goodbye with a warm stomach and newfound motivation.
An hour or so later of riding in the snow, I came to another abandoned village.
With all of the bunkers around and this abandoned town with hundreds of thousands of dollars of machinery just sitting there rusting away, it felt like I was in Chernobyl or something similar.
Not too far around the corner, I noticed a series of bunkers, a watchtower and an abandoned building.
I’m going to have to check this out and climb up the tower.
As I made my way to the bunkers through the broken barbed wire fence, I noticed some men.
They were approaching.
And one of them had a gun.
As the man with the gun pointed at me with his faded military uniform, I wondered if these were the pirates my new friends had tried to warn me about.
Had they taken over this abandoned military post?
What were they going to do to me?
I mean I had just tried to go through the broken barbed wire fence into their bunker.
As the man in uniform with the gun led me around the corner, I noticed another man painting what seemed to be a flag onto a water tank.
“Sh** they are pirates,” I thought.
I was eventually led to a boom gate and checkpost.
“PASSPORT,” he said, being the only English word he knew.
I handed over my passport and the man started speaking to me in Kyrgyz or Russian.
I had no idea what he was saying. I thought maybe he was asking for my border permit so I opened up the picture of it that I had on my phone and gave it to him.
He then marched through the steel gates and into one of the buildings.
I was told to wait.
Next to me there was an angry German Shepard chained up that wouldn’t stop barking.
As he frantically ran around his chain trying to break it off, I sat in the heavy snowfall awaiting my fate.
Maybe it was the vodka starting to kick in, but I started to panic.
Why has he left for so long and why is he making me sit in the snow.
Immediately, I thought he must be looking through my photos and videos on my phone. I’d given him my phone open on the photos to show my border permit.
Had he watched my videos climbing over the mountain to avoid the border checkpoint?
Had he seen me go into all of the bunkers and trenches?
Did he think I was a spy?
Should I just make a run for it?
He may have my passport and phone but why else would he make me wait for 45 minutes in the freezing snow.
Not liking my odds outrunning the German Shepard and knowing there wasn’t an Australian embassy in Kygrystan, I decided to wait.
After 45 minutes he returned, said something I didn’t understand and opened the boom gate to let me through.
I quickly rode away in the heavy snowfall. It was so heavy I could barely see, but I just wanted to get away as soon as I could.
Stopping a km or 2 further to fill up my water, I noticed no one was coming after me and I was safe.
I stopped to set up camp on the side of the road about an hour later.
What an eventful day.
I was able to ride the majority of the day for the first time and came over 75kms. Camped at 3300m.