Packing Day 22: So much for Democracy!
The tent is literally coated with muggies when I awake, but I am not letting them stand in my way! I shake the flap vigorously and send them flying, then hurriedly climb out and zip closed before they can hone in on Steve.
The sunrise is more dramatic than yesterday, as there’s lots of cloud about, which makes for vibrant colours. I can see rain streaking down around us, like smudges of paint against the sky. The odd, fat drop lands on me, but not enough to scare me off. I brew up coffee and thoroughly enjoy the moment.
The others slowly surface and we eat stale croissant-shaped pastries filled with jam (yuk – the shape is the only resemblance to a croissant!). “I’m ditching these the first chance we get…”
Then Kati starts Googling: “There’s a train station in town”, she announces, “There’s a train to Bishkek”, Steve jumps on the bandwagon, “I love train travel”, he enthuses, “It’ll be Fun!”, “A real adventure”, adds Kati. I know where this is headed… and just like that, the democratic decision is over-turned. (Why couldn’t the Brexit dilemma be so easily solved?)
We make our way back to the road. There’s a headwind. “Imagine riding all the way to
Bishkek against this!” (The co- conspirators attempt to justify their treachery). Shortly before town we spy a sketchy off-road trail leading directly to the train tracks. We veer off and follow it all the way to the station, where we carry our bikes over the tracks and contemplate the seemingly deserted scene. Steve accosts a railway official and using i-translate, he ascertains that the next train to Bishkek departs at 17h20. It’s now 10h00. She is enjoying the i- chatter, but in answer to his question “Is there a good coffee shop for breakfast?”, he gets a definitive “Nyet”. We all laugh wryly. “There’s no NATO here”, she adds by way of explanation.
We were, however, informed yesterday by the kite surfers, that one can get a good coffee at the Russian gas station on the outskirts of town. We go in search and indeed, we find pretty decent cappuccinos.
I am resigned to not riding, but the thought of hanging out killing time in this God forsaken town for the next 7 hours and then enduring a 5-hour train ride, is doing my head in. Kati contemplates my objection and starts to see the light. “You’re right. I was excited about the train, but I didn’t really think this through.
We could be in Bishkek in a couple of hours if we take a cab now…” Steve is a little sad about missing the train ride, but he too, sees the sense.
So once again we seek out a semi- suitable vehicle, take the bikes to pieces and load up like a SA taxi en route to the Transkei.
The drive is torture in the sweltering heat with no aircon and the driver thinks he’s Jody Scheckter, weaving from lane to lane,
“I’m SO GLAD we didn’t ride!” says Kati. I keep my muttering inside my head: “would’ve been much cooler on the bikes…” and focus on keeping my motion-sickness in check.
We come full circle back to The Garden Hotel, where we’ll spend the next 3 nights until our flight on Tuesday morning.
It seems only right that we also re-visit the Chicken Star Restaurant, where we so enjoyed our first dinner in Kyrgyzstan.
Kati is concerned it will be a disappointment 2nd time around, but it matches our memories and we toast our adventures with ice cold beer and pinch ourselves to be sure it hasn’t all been a crazy dream.