04.07.2012 - 04.07.2012
One of the best things about travel is being able to share with others the experiences you’ve had. The Swiss couple I met on the road a few days back now had told me about this Lake some 100km south of Aral. If they hadn’t I might have simply passed it by and continued along my way therefore missing out on this wonderful and relaxing spot.
It was great to only have to ride 50km today and I arrived at the lake just after lunchtime. It was an incredible feeling to just strip off down to my shorts and dive into this beautiful clear lake. It was the first time in a long while that I’ve been able to submerge my whole body in water and what a feeling.
There was a group of people who’d set their cars up a little further down and were obviously having a picnic. In true Kazak fashion they extended their hospitality to me and insisted that I go and join them a little further down for beer and Shashlyk (barbecued sticks of meat) They were all in fine spirits by the time I joined them and one or two of them had obviously been at the beer for quite sometime earlier in the day.
One of the women, a middle aged lady seemed to be particularly tipsy and took a real shine to me grabbing my arms and trying to hug me at every opportunity she had much to the amusement of her friends and much to my obvious embarrassment.
Once again they couldn’t quite fathom the idea of riding a bike from China to Kazakhstan and then onwards to England. Similarly they looked on in slight bemusement as I took out a number of items of clothing from my panniers and started to wash them in the lake.
They were as I previously mentioned extremely hospitable and I was invited under the canopy they’d erected over their cars and onto the carpet laid out to feast on salad, Naan bread, Shashlyk and a delicious soup they’d made using fresh fish which they had caught earlier in the day. It more than made up for the rather substandard bowl of noodles I’d cooked the night before myself.
I was planning to camp by the side of the lake for the night but they told me it was extremely dangerous. It was very open and perhaps worse very secluded. Perfect in the one sense but perhaps not the kind of place you want to be by yourself at night. One of the guys indicated that people came down here at night on their motorbikes and might perhaps fancy the idea of alleviating some naive foreigner of their possessions.
From where we ate lunch I could see a small collection of white yurts in the distance also by the side of the lake and they explained that I’d be better off sleeping over there.
They packed up their goods and headed off leaving me with one final gift, a whole bag of candy. I decided to follow their advice and made my way over to the ‘settlement’ in the distance. It wasn’t so easy getting there mainly due to the presence of sand tracks which my wheels just sink into but I was pleased by the time that I got there that I’d made the effort.
There was a caravan there where a family ran a small business of hiring out yurts to day trippers who came for a picnic and a yurt. There was a small group of young guys and girls who had come for precisely that reason and in no time I was inside their yurt and being fed once again.
One of the guys was a young engineer from the Cosmodrome and I eagerly quizzed him about his work. He spoke good English and I got him to ask the boss if it would be possible to put my tent down there for the night. He agreed and obviously no money changed hands.
I spent the rest of the day swimming in the lake it was so relaxing and actually felt like I was on a beach holiday. Because I’m slightly ahead of schedule I also decided to take another rest day here and head off back onto the road the following day.
Anyone travelling by this region should certainly make the detour to here you won’t be disappointed.