You will be pleased to hear that since my last post, things have improved beyond recognition.
I left Grettle in the hands of a man named Raman, a local mechanic here in Bishkek. Rather like the Turkish chap who welded and hammered her back into shape, post Istanbul-Crash-Fiasco, Raman, by some stroke of genius, has reconstructed her entire engine from scratch.
Furthermore, he has done the entire job for a total of $100, as appose to the colossal $3000+ I was expecting to pay, for the shipping of a brand new Vespa engine, from the UK to Bishkek.
Having said this, she has become a little more whiny, post operation; she has someone else’s parts inside her, but I am assured they are neither new ,nor old, but good enough to get me to India, which is certainly saying something!
I moved into Yas’s flat for a couple of days to find my feet, and decide how to overcome the sticky wicket touched upon in the previous post.
Bad mood and manic mind lightened during my days there, and I got offered a teaching job in Ulaanbaatar; the capital of Mongolia!
I have accepted the offer, and now prepare myself for an extremely cold drive through Kazakhstan, Russia, and the majority of Mongolia, where I will start teaching English to a class of 30 6 year olds at The Hobby School!
It will take one month for the business visa to process, which means I will be driving through the mountains in late October. I hear the roads are appalling, the snow blizzards frequent, but the landscape, and the people are said to be stunning.
The director of The Hobby School has voiced his concerns in regards to driving through the country this late in the year, and has offered to come and meet Grettle, travel frog, and I near the Russian Mongolian border.
I have just been through rather a grueling ordeal in order to get my TB test results; one of the many documents required in order to obtain the business visa.
I got lost on my way to the clinic, and a nice young Kyrgis girl showed me the way, and stayed as translator.
We were taken into a small room where I was asked to strip. There were many other clients all loitering around topless, waiting in line, to step into a metal chamber, where one was made to press one’s breasts up against an aluminum wall, rest one’s chin in a chin cup, and spread ones arms as though about to be patted down thoroughly at airport security, before being hoisted sharply upwards, to a level appropriate for the procedure. The young girl was not at all surprised by all of this, and watched me casually as I undressed for the X-ray.
Rather relieved to have escape
d, and to be fully clothed once again, I bid farewell to the nice girl, and hopped in a taxi to the little hostel I am currently living in. The taxi driver spoke some English, and would begin each sentence with a very bossy ‘Listen to me…’ before trailing off into an undecipherable mumble about single women without babies. I am told the women here marry at 16, and have babies soon after, and so the idea of a single female traveller in this part of the world, is unheard of.
We then got on to the subject of cigarettes, he told me his brand, and asked me mine. I explained I usually smoke tobacco. He misunderstood my rolling gesture and promptly offered me some extremely potent pot, inviting me back to stay with his family, if I was unsuccessful in finding a job.
Grettle got her first puncture since 2013 a couple of days ago. I was attempting rather a rocky path without a working headlight, and must have run over some sharp building materials. Memories of Tajikistan and water melon trucks sprung to life, and it felt like home, hopping into the back of an open truck with G to find a mechanic.
I have just gone to collect her once again from Raman, who has fixed her headlight, back rack, and replaced a missing valve, as well as fishing out a new front tire!
The tire has large Chinese letters all over it, and is a great deal thinner than my back tire. Knowing what I do about anything made by the Chinese, I am not filled with confidence I must admit, but fingers crossed it will do the job, and get me the 4,400 kilometers to Ulaanbaatar!
It feels fantastic to be back in the tent, I am camping with a few cyclists in the garden of ‘A House’ hostel. It’s getting pretty chilly at night now, and so I’m on the lookout for a new sleeping back, and a mat, in preparation for the Mongolian adventure. My current sleeping bag leaves much to be desired; I remember taking it to sleepovers with me when I was 8 years old!
I plan to take the month to catch up on sketching, writing, and continuing my very hefty scrap book. I have been asked to write a feature for motorcycle news which is great, and the journalist who got in touch has given me a direct email address for Piaggio, which is fabulous, and so I plan to get in touch, and wheedle some sponsorship of some sort from them…perhaps in the form of spare parts. Who knows how long G’s handy-downs will last!
Until next time…Adios