I was so tired that I didn’t care much about dozing through my alarm, rising about 7.10am, at the same time as a man who slept across the room. As I ate my muesli/condensed milk breakfast I was invited to join the man and his friend as they ate a melon. I tried to buy some lunch supplies but such is the bareness of the place that the girl-in-charge could only offer me a single non, and even then just out of sympathy. The chaihana had plenty of water at least. With 13L of the stuff, I set off for the border.

Passing between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan proved to be a very smooth process. On the Uzbek side, I skipped a line of waiting vehicles and proceeded to the immigration office, arriving a convenient ten minutes before it opened for the day. My passport was inspected and my bags passed through an x-ray machine. I was asked to open each one but the man on duty barely glanced into the top of each before telling me I could go. My worries about accommodation registration were unneeded as no one asked me about where I stayed during my time in the country. On the Kazakh side, I was led to the very front of a long line of people and served immediately by a man who said nothing as he looked through my passport and stamped me into the country. As I pushed my bike towards the exit of the border compound, I was called to a stop by a customs officer. After a quick chat he let me go without checking my bags. I was then free to enter the dust bowl that is far western Kazakhstan. The wind was blowing a gale, throwing swirling clouds of dust across the sky. All of a sudden the excitement of the border crossing passed and I was left to confront the frustratingly rough road.

I soon realised there was no way I would make it to Beynou. It became a certainty when I felt something wrong with the bike. I discovered that the bolt holding the left side of my rear rack to the frame had sheared off. For the life of me I couldn’t get it out of the frame. I tried gluing a bolt onto the end of the stuck one so I could twist it out, but failed miserably. In the end I refit the rack to another set of eyelets. By the time I sorted this out I was ready to find a place to sleep. I tried to get into the low hills over a set of train tracks to the west, but was blocked by a fence. I then scouted a pile of dirt on the eastern side of the road that I thought might hide me from the road. The dirt pile turned out to be the back of a bunker-like structure. I have set my tent up in the entrance, sheltered from the wind. A few vehicles have gone by right in front of me but either they didn’t see me or they chose to ignore my presence. Already feeling frustrated by the problem with my bike, I became even further annoyed when I opened my front rack pack and discovered that the plastic bottle containing alcohol for my stove had been leaking, soaking into my drawing pad, travel documents, pasta and Brooks saddle (which I’m carrying until I’m sure my new one is better). I spent valuable cooking-by-sunlight time cleaning up the mess. My mood picked up after I consumed a delicious, hot dinner (pasta, vegetables and tuna in a tomato-based sauce) and washed myself clean of all the dirt and dust I’d picked up through the day. Right now it’s 10pm and I’m finally ready for bed.

Going the right way?

Accommodation Free-camp
Distance ridden today 72.85km
Average cycling speed 13.4kph
Total distance ridden 22,532km