broken Kazakh roads

August 9, 2011
Дружба, Kazakhstan

As we rode away from Alashankou, China, the hills on both sides of our potholed road faded into the distance, and Asia fell eagerly away behind us. Our first breakfast of freshly baked black bread, butter, almonds and cheese since we left Russia one year ago . . . no more rice for 3 meals per day! no more chopsticks! no more soy sauce! no more chili with MonoSodiumGlutamat!

We attempted to camp near the train station, but although two ununiformed cops told us we could stay, the sherif drove us out of town — a good thing in the end, because instead of awakening amidst a lot of people in the village, the wind rocked our sleeping bags and with the first sun peeping over the sandy hills, we set off down the road to Almaty.

We were excited about our first full of day of cycling since Vientiene 2 months earlier — no more mountains or exhausting heat or impassable 2000km wide deserts! However, after 45 km we had long since expected to find a town, and with the night came the rain. Then a collumn of white refridgerator trucks carrying crabs and lobsters from China (local food!) stopped next to us. They‘re going to Almaty . . . why not put the bikes -under- the trucks and go with them? Our map was wrong anyway, and the potholes were taking over the entire road.

Two days and two nights in the trucks jump started our Russian language skills and filled our stomaches with shashlik, pototatoes and lots of eggs at roadside restaurants. The truckers were happy to share their stories and food with us.