The roadsides were getting greener and greener, and in the distance away north we could see what looked like a small mountain range, which continued throughout the days. We came across a rather expensive looking hotel with separate cafe where we stopped for a drink, chatted with staff, and played with a really cute kitten. Arjun wasn’t feeling too good, but we knew spending a night in the hotel would be useless, so we continued on. That night the zip on Kierans tent door broke.
Up with blustery winds most of the night, we stopped at a roadside cafe courtyard with watermelon sellers over the road, and watched a sweet older lady spray copious amounts of water all over the floor and walls, and throw rocks at cows who tried to walk in. Whilst making the most of the shade, a convoy of truckers stopped and gathered around us to chat, with thankfully one of them speaking English who could translate. We didn’t stop long and made it into the next town, where we didn’t make it far before stopping in the shade of a shop for drinks, mostly frozen drinks which defrosted in front of our eyes in the heat of the day, even in the shade. Eventually we started walking again and made it out the other side, when we stopped at the sight of two cyclists heading towards us. Shao-you Cheng and Cheng-Lu Lin, they were Taiwanese and cycling to Paris, they spoke English and so we stopped and chatted for a while, nice guys!
The next day we woke up to puddles in our tent, puddles of our own sweat. It was ridiculously hot, Arjun was having chest pains and struggling to breathe from the heat of the air, and Kieran had a panic attack, dropping everything and climbing underneath the cart for some sort of shade. Whilst waiting, Arjun noticed a broken spoke. We were only around a fortnight off of a major stop in Shymkent, but with no spare spokes and being sat in a desert we struggled to come up with a solution. Kieran spotted (miraculously) the only stick in sight about 10mins walk out onto the sand, and after Arjun went to collect it, Kieran whittled down as best he could a replacement spoke to wedge into the wheel. We got to a cafe with lovely tree sheltered yard where we stopped and bought drinks, decided to wait until the evening and try out walking at night again. Whilst there we watched a kid treat a dog with respect which was nice, and the lady who lived there filled up our water bottles with cold water for us.
On the road that night a car with three guys pulled up offering us a place to stay in Turkestan (third offer), and we ran out of daylight before making distance, deciding against walking at night due to the insects crawling around in the desert in the dark.