Keeping The Faith

I have to admit, our time spent in Kazakhstan was less than to be desired. A series of events, albeit isolated, left a pretty bad taste in our collective TWBR mouths and we were extremely ready to leave. I do not want to take our experiences in Almaty, Kazakhstan and use them to generalize the entire country because I am sure our experiences were isolated… at least I hope so. The fact of the matter is, when you do have bad experiences they tend to stick with you for a while. So as to prevent our misfortunes from permanently burning a negative image of the country in our minds, we packed up what was left of our stuff and headed south into Kyrgyzstan.


Let the healing begin

What a difference a few hundred kilometers can make. In fact, just getting out of the hustle and bustle of Almaty aided in the mental healing process that needed to begin sooner rather than later. Once we were back out in the Kazakh countryside, we experienced much more hospitality. In Almaty, we were charged $7 for a dirty towel (which is what I thought typically happens when you use one), but in the countryside, a farmer worked around our tents even though we were camping in his field, apparently in an effort not to disturb us.


Even the local labor force came out to welcome us


Crossing the border into Kyrgyzstan further aided in restoring our faith in humanity. People were actually smiling and waved as we passed through their village or town. Instead of dodging oncoming traffic, speeding for no apparent reason, locals on horseback were racing along side the Tundra shouting out a welcoming "hello!"  In Kazakhstan, we were refused a room at the cheapest hotel in Almaty because we must have looked "undesirable" even though our money was still green, but the family who ran the guesthouse in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan wanted us to join them at their table for dinner and in Bishkek, the owners of the guesthouse went out of their way to help us find out more information about getting visas for Uzbekistan.

The healing process continues for us here in Uzbekistan. The people here are extremely friendly and genuinely curious about where we are from. Small children, parents and grandparents alike all wave and greet you with a warm hello. In fact, I think we received more waves and heard more hellos in the first hour of being in Uzbekistan than we have on the entire trip… all this in a country that we were supposed to be weary of. The food here is amazing and I am actually beginning to feel better about wandering out of view of our trucks. Unfortunately, all of the car alarms here in Toshkent sound exactly like the ones on the Thundra and Little Pepe, so I still wake up at night and run out into the street in my boxer shorts to see if everything is o.k. when I hear one go off.


The local Uzbek welcome wagon met us at the border

Ultimately, if you are in a bad situation, the best thing you can do is try to get out of it and for us, that meant moving on quicker than we had planned. In our experience on The World by Road, sometimes moving on means moving on into more unpredictability and uncertainty. We were hoping that in this case, moving on would be positive and as far as we can tell, it has been just that. At a time when all of us had lost a lot of our faith in humanity, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan were just what the doctor ordered.