The suburbs of Tashkent run all the way to the border and then after an hour of shoving through customs I was back in Kazakhstan. The officials on the Uzbek side had me for not having a declaration form from my entry into the country but while they all argued about the best way to screw over a velo tourist I dissappeared into the crowds and was out of the country before they could do anything. A very different Kazakhstan to the far west, for a start there are roads here. Green meadows, perfect blue skies and excellent views of the Tien Shen mountains (which stay safely off to the right) all the way. Nice to cycle the first real climbs since Georgia and the climate has rapidally eased into winter. You can actually feel the sun getting weaker as you go north.
The road to Almaty cuts through Kyrgyzstan for a few hundred metres but common sense prevails and there is no border control, the army however are abit jumpy around these border areas. They waved at me from a lookout tower, I waved back and carried on. Then a Lada came screaming past and stopped infront of me..oh look they've come to say hello right..wrong. Three soldiers got out, surrounded me, cocked their rifles and held me at gun point. Not alot you can do in an situation like that. I checked to make sure they were Kazakh not Kyrgz soldiers, held my hands above my head and repeated the words "Tourist" and "Anglia".
After all the routine checks the captain apologised for the over reaction of his halfwit soldiers and muttered something about two diplomats, Geoff Brown and Peter somebody, Dushanbe and narca. If you have any idea what he was going on about and why it resulted in having three rifles pointed at me then please let me know. Gripping stuff eh.
Kazakhstan...what more is there to say. Amazing people, amazing generosiry. I could watch Kazakh horsemen, rounding up their flocks against a backdrop of snowy mountains, all day. What more could a man ask for?
Short days and late starts waiting for the day to warm up meant that the 900km took longer than it would normally. Upto 16 hours in the tent at a time, a figure that will probably increase. Looking like crap but feeling a million dollars I arrive in Almaty where for the first time since Tiblisi, I do my laundry.
Perfect blue skies.
More perfect blue skies.