In the morning I had to stitch up my bag as the weight from all my things were beginning to take its toll on the straps and continued walking after breakfast. I walked all the way up until the sunset and then suddenly the temperature dropped to a level that even whilst walking I was freezing. Normally no matter how cold it is I’m always hot whilst walking, but this was not the case. I saw two small buildings in the distance and Decided to try to make it to them. Eventually I did and one of them was a shop that was closed and looked as if it had been for some time. The other was another wagon with an old lady out the front of it. I walked up to the drive and made hand gestures to ask if I could come and talk to them. eventually an old man came out and greeted me, we talked and I explained what I was doing and that I needed a place to stay. I asked if I could put my bivy behind his wagon and he agreed. He asked me to come in for some tea and later decided that I could stay inside, which was a relief as the cold had even started to make its way into the wagon. After a meal and some tv, which was turned on using the generator every night at half 8 and was a pre recorded dvd of a popular music channel in Kyrgyzstan, they kindly gave me some quilts and left me to sleep in the room next to theirs.
Days later I eventually managed to walked up to the second pass and found a que of cars, thinking I would be ok to continue, I made my way through the cars to the front where I found a cordoned off area and the military shooting at the mountain to clear the snow with tanks. The tanks I couldn’t see but we were all told to stay where we were and there had to be five shots. We were all there for an hour and with each shot you felt the vibration and the echo through the mountains. Then began the slow ascent up. Later I was told that the weather had been atrocious in the mountains this winter and that there had been four people killed in avalanches in Kyrgyzstan, so I imagine that this was their precautionary measure.
On the other side of the mountain I was given the opportunity to join two guys for lunch, I had met them on the road and they had asked me if I would like to join them, i seemed to be taking the opportunity whenever it struck to get out of the cold. One was learning English and wanted to practise so of course I said yes and it transpired that he was buying a car in Bishkek driving it to Jalalabad, refurbishing it and selling it on. He was also 24 and had 4 children! A really family man.
The next day I made it to a town where as I was walking through I came across an elderly man who was transporting water from his cafe to his house on a sledge, it was a miserable morning and as he approached me, he asked what I was doing, as he came to a stop he told me his name was Nuris and asked if I would come to his house and join him and his wife Gula for tea and some food. I obliged and we discussed many things from my route to their children, who live in Moscow. Telling him I was going to Afghanistan obviously worried him and he began to tell me that he had been to Afghanistan before many years ago and had been one of many victims involved in a bomb blast, he had a scar on his head which he showed me and told me to be careful on my journey through. After some food we parted ways and Nuris continued making his trips back and forth with his sledge of fresh water, his wife continued preparing food for the cafe and I returned to the road with more mountains to come.
At the top of the next pass there was a kiosk. I knocked on the small window and there was no answer but I could hear voices. Eventually I shouted hello and there popped up the two heads of two very young boys who couldn’t understand a word I was saying or manage to open the window. After minutes of trying to get the to understand what I wanted I gave up, had some chocolate I had stashed for this kind of occasion and carried on, the down hill parts are a welcome sight after days of going uphill.