“Wow, dad, come and look. This is so cool!” Nathan gestured me to come closer to the two big motorbikes parked right in front of a pink wall Homestay in the village of Sara Tash, Kyrgyzstan.
“Do you see that size of the seat, tire and the engine?” He continued excitedly. “There are two large metal casing hanging in the back and a large headlight in the front full of dead insects.”
The motorbikes belonged to two Italian bikers, Alexander and Albertino, ages 42 and 58, who just biked from Song Kul lake to the homestay where we were staying in Sara Tash, near the starting point for the famous Pamir Highway, one of the world’s greatest high altitude road built by Soviet in 1930’s to transport troops and provisions.
They drove in with their full motorbiking gear of thick leather jacket, pants, boots, gloves, and helmet. It just rained and being at an altitude of 3000+ meters, they looked cold and wet and just wanted to find a warm shelter for the night.
Prior, we were just speaking to another guest of the homestay, Liam, a Canadian geologist, who worked for a Canadian oil company. Due to the oil crisis, he took the opportunity to travel for a year starting from Turkey along the Silk Road towards the east, similar to our route but the opposite direction. He had travelled for ten months already and had two months left. To our surprised, he carried only a small backpack for the one year trip.
That night the eight of us ate in a circle on the carpet floor of the homestay’s living room only with candle light since the electricity went out due to the storm.
“Where are you heading to?” Nathan asked the Italian motor bikers.
“We are going through Pamir Highway and then all the way back to Italy.”
“How long is your trip?”
“We are doing it in a month. That’s all the vacation that we have.”
“Wow, you can do it in one month! Our trip along the Silk Road is for one year.”
“Few years ago, I motor biked from Beijing to Venice following Marco Polo’s Silk Road route.” Albertino said with a big smile.
“You three should be be very appreciative of your parents for doing this one year trip.” Liam added. “I hope you realize that what your parents are doing is very very rare. What your family is doing is incredible. When I was your age, my parents never did this. You are so lucky.”
“If you come and you should stay with us in Italy. My home is only 20 km away from Venice in a small town. It is a great place.” Albertino invited generously.
“When you are in Vancouver, let’s meet together,” said Liam as well.
After dinner, Liam gave Nathan a large Snicker chocolate bar because he saw Nathan wanted to buy a Snicker bar at the grocery shop. Nathan ended up not buying because after knowing that it is cheaper to buy in Osh, Nathan had decided to wait.
The next day, we continued to stay at the same homestay as the weather was poor and we just wanted to have time to rest and catch up on homeschooling. For lunch we made real cooked food for ourselves outside the homestay using the new gasoline camping stove that my mom paid as my birthday present and using the makeshift alcohol powered aluminum can stove that we made ourselves taught by Hank, a Dutch biker, in Kashgar. With these new gadgets, we made our own pasta, with tomatoes, onions, sausage, and eggs. It was simple, but there was great satisfaction having everyone working together in unity to make our own meal using these simple camping gears.
While we were eating, three cyclists rode into the homestay. Two of them were a geologist and chemist couple from New Zealand and one of them was from Switzerland, who has a Ph.D in physics. Then another Netherland couple and a single British chap Conner came in by a shared taxi from the China-Kyrgyzstan border.
That night again all us travelers sat on the carpet floor and ate dinner together, like the fellowship in the book, “Lord of the Rings”.
“Where did you biked from?” I asked the bikers curiously.
“We biked on the Pamir highway in Tajikistan for the last few weeks. This morning we started in Tajikistan 60 km away, crossed the border, and now here in Kyrgyzstan,” Jane, the New Zealand biker, replied.
“How was it?” I continued.
“The view was incredible and the people so hospitable. We were riding around 4000 meters everyday. We stayed in yurts and had simple meals. We hadn’t have eggs for days so this egg is great,” Jane said excitedly.
“We saw so many bikers passing through this little town today. I don’t recall seeing so many cyclists in one place,” I shared.
“Here in Sara Tash, for the first time I felt that if you are not biking, you are not a real traveler!” Liam lamented.
“Yeah…that is so true,” all the children agreed.
The Netherland couple shared about their one month trip, “The goal of our trip was to circle the Tianshan mountain range. We started from Kazakstan then to Xinjiang and now to southern Kyrgyzstan. After Kyrgyzstan we will go back to Kazakstan to fly back to the Netherland.”
“You guys are all so amazing and smart. Tonight we are under the roof with people with combined IQ that are beyond the chart!” Annie declared.
While we were having our fun dinner conversation, another two German motor bikers who also were doing the Pamir Highway route came in and joined our meal.
The children joked, “I think if we stay for one week here, we will have a place to stay in every country we will be traveling to.”
The next morning, we all went our separate ways with us going on a private taxi to Osh, the Nederland couple going to the Lenin Peak base camp, Liam hitchhiking to China border, and Conner hitchhiking to Osh. Before we parted, Jane invited us to stay at her six hectare farm at Queensland if we backpacked to New Zealand in the future.
The gathering of amazing travelers continued even while we stayed at the Osh Guesthouse in Osh. We met an Italian woman in her 50’s who had traveled continuously for 18 years by renting out her apartment in Italy. We met an American who travelled to all the Central Asia countries who was about to pursue a master degree in International Relations. We saw an elderly Japanese couple in their 60’s who traveled with large backpacks on their back just like any other young backpackers. The list went on.
Although we had only been in Central Asia for less than 4 days, we witnessed so many amazing world travelers coming and going. It was as if all the interesting travelers from different parts of the world gathered and fellowshipped here along the Pamir Highway of Central Asia!