I have returned to finish the final leg of the journey, and will set off from Almaty tomorrow. From Kazakhstan I will make my way through the Taklamakan desert in western China to the provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunan, cross into Laos and Vietnam and finish in the city of Guangzhou.
Just because you have done something a few times doesn’t make it easier. In some ways you can almost say it gets harder because there are so many more expectations. After close to 8 months in California I have been reborn again to my life on the road and it is a difficult transition. One can quickly to get used to having more; family, friends, food and love. But when it is all gone we forget who we were without them.
It is a warm spring morning, and I have awoken refreshed from a 28 hour transit between Los Angeles and Kazakhstan’s second largest city; Almaty. I am staying with the same family that hosted me 18 months ago, when I cycled to Almaty from Kyrgyzstan and flew to Korea. It is interesting to be staying in the place again . Such a remote part of the world. In the distance I can see a large mountain range covered in snow marking the Kyrgyzstan border. I wonder how many inhabitants in the chaotic city, lift there eyes from the dirty streets and traffic to gaze at these beautiful mountains.
Russian words and phrases quickly came back to me as I walked off the plane to the moon lit city. I am always a bit nervous about waiting for my bike to come off the plane but as soon as I passed through customs, my new companion Esperanza was waiting for me in an unscathed, well worn cardboard box.
For being such a large city the airport is surprisingly small, think of Long Beach international Airport and you will have an idea of what two Almaty airports would look like.
As soon as you leave the airport the road quickly turns to dirt with large pot holes and odd shaped stones. My heavy loaded trolley got stuck in a large puddle and I had to carry my gear from there. My friend Sergey picked me up in his new Honda Prius and drove me to his village home 30 km away. After a brief period of catching up we talked about the new Tesla automobile models. Sergey tells me that there are 6 in the city and that they cost upwards of $200,000 USD to bring them in the country.
Sergey knows a bit about cars as he used to sell second hand ones from Japan. That is, he tells me “Until the government outlawed the sale of automobiles with steering wheels on the right side”. His Honda Prius is also a rarity in the city but he spends quite a lot of time making deliveries in the city. Amazon.com does not deliver to Kazakhstan, too many lost packages, so Sergey has orders sent to a US address then has them forwarded to Almaty. He sells something like 40-50 Kindles a week.
It is going to be a difficult day navigating through traffic, escaping from dogs, and asking for directions. Outside the city it is a 360 km deserted road to the Chinese border. I know I can do this, but it seems like such a hurdle just to start pedaling. Once I am moving it is all possible but right now I am scared. I will write again soon, however looking at the route I am uncertain as to when I will have internet again.