News item

Ride to Bishkek - By Jules Frints

Bishkek, September 7, 2016

Today, we woke up in Toktogul, near the lake we went to see yesterday. A drive over the Kyrgysz mountains was scheduled, with Bishkek as our goal. Part of the route was the same as yesterday, but in reverse. These curvy mountainous roads extended even further, as we went up to 3600 m, before entering an impressive tunnel, that went downhill towards a spot with great view on the descending roads we were about to ride.

Here, we unleashed our rider to take Wave down this road freely, also providing some nice video material.

Driving down (great fun of course!), our van was telephoned by the front vehicle, our reconnaissance team. Edgar answered, but only heard fragments of sound I told him to end the call, as it was too expensive, being in the middle of Kyrgyzstan. At this very moment he finally understood the words 'dollars' and 'toll'. We needed dollars fort he toll road up ahead, but they were all-in our front vehicle, already out of reach. We asked rest of our convoy if they had any dollars; Van 1 answered no, our rider answered yes, but not how many. No other responses were recorded, possibly due to rocks blocking our walkie talkie signal.

Some time and distance later, the first van in our convoy encountered the toll gate. They started to talk through the walkie talkie: who has dollars? Apparently, they had been called as well, but didn't have signal. Now we were at the toll gate, without sufficient dollars at hand. We stopped, scraped every dollar from our team members – one had 8, another one 7, others 3 dollars. Eventually we had just enough to pass!

Another small notable event occurred some kilometers later, where two of our vans had to stop for a police stop. The police asked 2000 Som (Kyrgysz money, approx. €25,-), to return the drivers license they took from us. They lowered the number to 1000, and dropped to 500 even, after another 'no'. Eventually, they just gave it back, letting us go for free.

Today's drive ended at the state university in Bishkek, were we got shelter, food and electricity. The battery charging we wanted to set up after dinner, but suddenly we heard we had only 1 hour left to enter the building we could use. This was the building for food technology, so inside it smelled like cookies and we had to wipe our feet at every floor mat we encountered (three in total, every time we carried a charging rack inside). We quickly arranged this, and after dinner we went back tot he workshop to finish repairs.

Here, we were reminded of how our project can inspire people, as the holder of the garage we were working in was very interested in our motorcycle. Regardless the language barrier, he and his friend examined Wave 1 and 2 carefully and asked many questions. Eventually, he went out and returned with his son, to take a picture with him on the motorbike. After that, he got us some beers and crisps, a thankful closing to the day.

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