bicycle travelling
preparing for 3onTour!
to the centre of the universe

17. October 2000

to the centre of the universe

kyrgyzstan - kashgar - kailash - kathmandu
- 4000 km

4010 km, vienna (A)

at the customs of the international airport in bishkek i have to empty the bag with all pharmacies we took from home. and that was quite a lot. the one and a half kilo medicine-chests consists of all things we need trucks on the way to alito stay or to get healthy in one of the largest and remotest area of the world, which we want to travel by bike. so i am really shocked as the kyrgyz officials want to confiscate this important stuff. moreover they begin to search the whole luggage. it takes time and a lot of argueing, but at last the kyrgyz give all things back. we´ve taken the first hurdle, we´ve entered kyrgyzstan.

we don´t want to cycle at the issyk-kul - a huge lake 700 meter deep - all the time and decide to go up the tian-shan mountains. two times it is not possible to cycle further because of broken bridges and not passable paths. at last we are lucky and manage to get through. the area is unhabitated and very remote. while i am cycling for my own - markus is about 20 minutes in front - suddenly a sheperd on a horse is assaulting me with a long and thick stick. "som!!" he is shouting, which means the kyrgyz currency.
China China

i realize that the situation is quite serious. his stick is close to my head, the kyrgyz is unreachable on his horse and he is shouting again unpatiently. i try to inform him that a fellow of mine will come soon, which is nonsense of course. as some nomads are appearing at a yurt a few hundred meters below the road, i begin waving and calling. obviously this is very unpleasant for the young man. luckily he disappears.
yaks in western tibet, small streets, basars, masked woman, noise by thousands of people, animals and vehicles, smell of kebap in the air. kashgar is more oriental than i have expected. here in the wild west of china, islam plays a much more important role in life and behaviour than in close kyrgyzstan. i can see uigurs, pakistani, mongolians, chinese, kyrgyz in this formerly most important town on the ancient silk road. the life-stock market attracts me most. thousands of sheep, cows, bulls, chicken, horses and people are gathering in a limited area. the atmosphere is quite hectic. trucks are loaded and unloaded with animals, some donkeys and bulls go crazy, uigurs argue strongly and are even fighting sometimes. they test horses, examine the flesh of cows or bargaining in a very enthusiastic way.
China China

at the beginning of the adventureous road from yecheng to ali, markus has constantly diarrhoea. in a small village we are invited to stay very comfortable in a house of a couple. as nature calls, my friend has to get out during the night. a dog blocks the way out in the dark. because it is very urgent, markus is forced doing his "duty" at the entrance of the house. suddenly he loses consciousness and falls half naked on the floor, injuring his left leg. back on his feet after a few minutes he gets ill and has to vomite on the same place. when we were leaving later on we missed the opportunity to explain to the hosts that this is the normal european way of saying "thank you" for the hospitality...

it is nearly impossible to decribe what it means going by bike through this remote parts of xinjiang and western tibet. gravel, washboard, stones, sand, mud. it doesn´t matter. the 2500 kilometer are never in good condition. you have to get used to the fact, that 8-10 km/h is normal speed. no matter wheter the road is going flat, up or down. when cycling this route, just remember one thing: you always just have to move on.
China China

mount kailash at 5300 meter the morning is bitterly cold. inside the frozen tent, all available clothes are taken on. nevertheless we are unpatient to leave the accommodation as fast as possible. it is the northface of the famous mount kailash which makes us that curious. the rising sun creates sharp outlines on the huge, vertical northface. tremendous! it is the second day of the kailash kora, the pilgrimage around the holiest mountain of the world. because of the specific shape of the peak and the fact that four great rivers of asia spring from this area - sutlej, ganges, brahmaputra and indus - this mountain is most important for buddhists and hinduists. some hours later we stay at the drömla-la - a pass, 5630 meter in altitude and the climax of the kora. thousands of praying flags are lighting under the blue sky - more than i have ever seen in my life before.
China China

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