My legs are not very happy little campers at the moment. Two weeks of relative inactivity in Kashgar has rendered them weaklings and they began hurting immediately. The ride out of Kashgar was unpleasant for the first half of the day, owing to the level of dust and development, but quite nice through the afternoon as the scenery opened up and became more natural and even quite pretty at times. I will venture to say that the Tajik people are far more open and friendly than the Han Chinese. I was surprised at the positive attention I received from all the kids I passed, all keen to say hello while smiling brightly. I stopped at a bus stop (a long bench in the shade of some trees) when I got hungry and had a refreshing power nap while I was at it. Several police checkpoints provided other chances to stop and stretch my aching legs. I enjoyed a relatively long break at some shops located just before the turn off to the Torugart Pass. While eating some bread that had just moments before been cooked in a tandoor, I spread out on a carpeted platform and enjoyed listening to music being played by a set of speakers entertaining the two guys making the bread. I loved some of the music so much I screenshotted two Chinese words using the Pleco App, ‘singer’ and ‘previous’, and showed it to the young guy rolling out the bread dough and stamping it with sets of dimples. He understood my query, and in answer, he took my phone and setup a Bluetooth transfer, copying a bunch of music into my phone.

Not far down the road I got a flat tyre. I thought it might be a really slow leak so I pumped it up and started riding again, thinking I might get away with it until I find a place to camp. It went flat again immediately. The problem was that a patch that I put on the tube at the hostel had shrivelled and was no longer plugging up the hole it originally covered. I put on a new patch, but after letting it dry and pumping up the tube, it too shrivelled. I think it might be the extremely hot weather, or maybe the glue is too old. Whatever the case, I decided to just install a brand new tube. Not too far on, the road turned into a gravel track and my energy levels were soon exhausted to the point that I started thinking about finding a place to camp a bit earlier than I’d planned When a track peeled off and wound into some hills, I couldn’t resist. At this point I was pushing my bike, so I pushed it up the track a bit before going for an exploratory walk. I found a piece of flat ground on which to camp, but decided to go for a further look around. This time I came across a long brick building containing stables. The place was deserted and not too scary-looking, so I decided to make camp in the corner of the L-shaped structure. I set up my tent, then cooked some noodles for dinner. As I was cleaning up a truck loaded with labourers drove past. I waved but only received blank stares in return. Understandable. It’s probably not every day you see a homeless-looking foreigner camped out in the middle of nowhere. Right now I’m in bed and it’s almost dark. The wind is just starting to pick up and is throwing my unpegged tent around quite a bit.

Ahh…home sweet home!

Accommodation Free-camp
Distance ridden today 65.98km
Average cycling speed 11.7kph
Total distance ridden 19,528km