Week 12

July 22 to July 28

It turned out that getting a Russian visa in Bishkek is quite an extraordinary feat, requiring an amount of dedication, mental strength and tenacity that I just couldn’t muster.

To even file an application, a vast amount of documents is needed, ranging from proof of an insurance to repatriate the body of the applicant in case of death to bank statements and proof of permanent employment in the home country so Europeans don’t start raking in the money in Tomsk or Novosibirsk.

The most peculiar requirement, however, is a 3 month visa for Kyrgyzstan. Citizens of most European countries can stay in Kyrgyzstan visa-free for 60 days. Getting a 3-month Kyrgyz visa is quite a feat by itself and requires an inviting party and a two-week waiting time.

I went to the Russian embassy and tried to convince the bored bureaucrat at the counter of the mind boggling stupidity of this requirement. After thirty minutes, a quick glance at my watch confirmed that it was half past fuck this shit o’clock and I left.

Back at the hostel I checked the internet for alternatives. Apparently, some people had successfully acquired Russian visa in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

My Dad had emailed me the waybill of the tire he had sent to Bishkek, and the tracking data suggested that it had arrived in Kyrgyzstan. I went to the post office, saw a tire-shaped package and tried to convince the woman working there to hand it over to me, but since it had been addressed to the owner of a guesthouse she remained adamant that it could only be picked up by the recepient in person.

Said recipient, of course, was on holiday until Monday, so I resorted to drinking heavily with four delightful Germans who were using Bishkek as a base to go trekking in the Kyrgyz mountains.

On Monday, Elizaveta, the recipient of the packet, and I went to the local post office, thinking that the packet would have rippled down one more step in the distribution chain. Of course, that had not happened and the packet was still stuck at the main office where we picked it up without problems.

Since I hate changing tires, I went to an automobile garage, cradling the fresh tire like a newborn baby and nearly weeping with joy.

After some haggling, the owner agreed to change the tire for an equivalent of four dollars, and his four mechanics went to work on the bike. Since they were unfamiliar with motorcycles, I took the wheel of myself. In a matter of seconds, they had taken off the old tire and put on the new one, leaving the old tube inside.

The owner, the four mechanics and I put the wheel back on in a joint if somewhat uncoordinated effort. With the chain adjusted to the right tension I rode back to the hostel, hoping that they hadn’t damaged the tube. However, they seemed to have done a marvelous job. The new tire felt excellent and locking it up with the fresh break pads in the busy streets of Bishkek gave the bike just the amount of stopping power needed in a completely unpredictable environment.

Fresh rear tire!

The next morning I got up early and rode the 450km along the south side of Issyk Kul to Karakol without incident. Somewhat disappointed by Issyk Kul, which looked more like an ocean than a mountain lake, I enjoyed the cooler climate of Karakol and got a good night’s rest in a splendid guesthouse called Nice (like the city) Hostel.

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