"How much for a room?"
"Oh that's far too much" ( three times what I've been charged anywhere in Central Asia).
"Okay. You can have this one for 900 Som".
"Thank you. It's still too expensive. Where is another hotel?"
"40km towards Osh".
I'm very tired, it's very hot, and I haven't got 40km left in my legs, and I'm only looking for a room because there hasn't been anywhere to camp in the last 40km.
"Okay. Thanks , I will take it. Here's 1000 Som. Have you some change please?"
"There is no change, as you are booking in before 5pm."
Suddenly the understanding of English disappears, and he's a big sod, and I'm too tired to argue or hit him. And the room.....rough. Shared bathroom, with no toilet seat, no shower head, blocked drainage, and no hot water. The electrical sockets in the room all come out of the wall with my hand when I try to withdraw the plugs that won't work. None of the wiring is connected. No wifi, no TV, no fan, no AC. Yep, I'm being ripped off.
Next day on the road, I stop at 20km to drink from my water bottle, I remember an incident with Phil North, cycling and water bottles, so I'm being safety conscious. A guy comes up to me, grabs Fiona's handlebars, and drags me into his house....chai. All his staff join us. Their chai is half vodka, it's 9am. Then wife ones out with sliced watermelon. Then fresh bread. Then cooked pasta and vegetables. I'm encouraged to eat and drink until I'm bloated. I get up to leave....nope, it's not happening. Rest. Lie here and rest. Photos are taken, and I give him my card. "You have web site? " Into the lounge. Computer is turned on, and I bring up my website. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. Please leave on so we can read later. More chai?" I drag myself away and back onto the bike....
Arriving in Osh and I need to find a hotel. I ask a taxi driver. He gives me very explicit instructions in Russian. I've got no idea what he is saying. He jumps in his taxi, and waves me to follow him, and leads me to a hotel...no charge.
Bayana Guest House has been recommended by other cyclists, and I find Nick and Roman are already here. As are another couple of cyclists, who have just completed the Pamirs, and are now gearing up to climb Lenin Peak, (7000m), before getting back on their bikes.
Also here are Kirsty and Marcus. They're riding a tandem. Started in Bristol England, eight months ago, and arrived here via Scandinavia, Europe, the Caspian Sea, and Tajikistan. So lots to chat with them about. Marcus is my very first "Guinness World Record Holder". He ran the fastest every marathon.......dressed as a toilet, 2 hrs 57 mins. They are heading for NZ, so watch out for them.
Then there is Michael, from Australia. He's cycling as well, but very slowly. He has a folding bike, with 20 inch wheels. However, the wheels have rather fallen off his progress. He's fallen for Kyrgyzstan, and has been here for two months. He had a bit of strife, as he ran out of "visa" time, and hadn't organised anything. An overnight trip to Bishkek didn't help, so the next night he came back, no better off. However, he's made such an impression with the family here at Bayana, that somehow, in the last 24 hours, they've managed to secure him a one month extension.
And then Charlie and Jack arrived, on their bikes from China. Americans, Charlie is heading for South Africa, while Jack flys out of Bishkek, to go back to the states, and then to medical school in Wisconsin. Jack was very helpful, offering me addresses and contacts so as I could make my USA visa application. Charlie had lots of interesting stories to tell of his childhood, the son of an American diplomat. He has lived in numerous countries, and is really on a trip of "rememberance", before he too returns state side hopefully to also study medicine. We sent them on their way on July 4th, USAs birthday.
Paul and Greet are from Belgium. Every ten years they take a year off from work and travel. This is their third trip on cycles, and this trip they've been in SE Asia, Iran and Tajikistan, and the Pamirs. I've been milking them of information, flat out. They're heading towards Bishkek, and Kazakhstan before flying home and back to work.
Sonya and Taylor, are young kiwis. They've just finished degrees at Victoria Uni, and are travelling for eight months before starting teaching English in South Auckland. They're not cycling. It's really great chatting to them though. They speak kiwi.
And yesterday I got to do that as well. I sat with Fletch, Dobbie, and Russell, in Fletch's lounge, and watched the rugby final, via Skype. Thanks heaps Samsung. What a great experience. Great to catch up with the boys. Great to have a win for the Highlanders. Sad to leave the lounge though.
And today, five of us jumped into a taxi and went to the local animal market. A guy I met was hoping to buy an Ass, (thanks Russell for reminding me), to carry his gear when he trekking. No Bull.