Route: Karakol – Bishkek
Some 60km out of Karakol, me, Ruan, a south-african born Australian and Arno, and french-born French (sorry, i had to) sat on the open loading platform of a tow truck.
Apart from our backpacks pushed together in the middle, there was absolutely no where to hold on to, and the truck lurched and squeaked underneath us.
Arno was busy half protesting, half recording this act of insanity for his YouTube Channel, and I wore a big smile in my face, thinking:
“I guess thats why my mum never wanted me to hitchhike.”
Fields and trees flashed by, and even Kyrgyz people seemed mildly suprised when they saw a truck carrying three foreigners and their backpacks on its back.
What had happened? To understand this curious situation, we need to turn back time about two hours.
Welcome to Karakol, Kyrgyzstan’s main trekking hub!
Here is where I broke my camera in a very stupid move I will explain in a later post, and so to fix it I decided to go back to Bishkek.
Ruan and Arno, two guys i had made good friends with, happened to go there as well and were very dedicated to introducing me to the art of hitchhiking.
So me and said two guys waited on northern main road out of Karakol, thumps stuck out. I brushed my teeth by the side of the road and spat the rest in the gutter, when a sudden feeling of freedom struck me and I thought: “This journey is making me incredibly happy. This is the life I want.”
I tucked away the toothbrush, turned around, and saw Ruan and Arno standing by a car, Arnos head disappearing in its window.
He nodded excitedly, waved me over and in the blink of an eye we were in the car of a friendly family, who would take us туп (read: Tüp! in high-pitched voice).
In Tüp! we were attacked by an unforeseeable, violent lust for fat-dripping самса(read: Samsa, a pastry in triangle form, filled with greasy meat or old cabbage) and Пирожки (read: Piroshki, basically fried dough. More enjoyable when filled with potatoe mash).
Bellies stuffed, we found ourselves beside the road again, when a tow truck came by…
The three guys on the front seats laughed and waved when they saw us, which Ruan understood as an invitation.
He climbed onto the loading platform, and Arno and I didn`t have a choice but to do so either.
And that, Mum, is how I hitchhiked with a tow truck.
Fortunately, the guys were happy to take us into the driver`s cabin after some 30 minutes, until the place where they had to tow a car from an accident.
Our next ride with a friendly father humming along to russian pop from the car radio would bring us straight to Bishkek, with a quick dip in the world`s second largest alpine lake: Issyk Kul.
The beach seemed like right out of a cartoon: beach umbrellas dotted the yellow sand, a bored lifeguard in a high chair watched over the russian families getting roasted under the kyrgyz sun, and roaring jetskis raced into the distance.
I heard an excited cry behind me, and turned around: a parachute with two passengers just took off into the blue spotless sky. It advertised sleeping pills on its wings. The lake water was warm and sparkled in the sunlight.
We arrived in Bishkek after sunset, and Ruan directed the driver to a Hostel. I felt home there from the second we opened the gate: People sat on pallet benches, candles flickered on the table, and the walls were covered in colourful graffiti.
When later that evening we, slightly tipsy, sat around the table with two big pizzas, I couldn’t think of anything else but how happy I was.
Sorry for the lack of photos, as I stated in the beginning my camera was broken at that time.
If you’re nevertheless interested in seeing us on the tow truck check Arno Agapés Youtube Channel, he might have uploaded the video already. Check his channel anyways, he is one of the nicest travelers I met Central Asia and it is THE chance to pick up on your school french again.
Also if you ever get to Bishkek, go to Imagine Hostel! Staying there was one of the highlights of my trip, it is nothing but good vibes manifested into a hostel.