On our way from Bishkek to Issy-Kul in a 4×4 driven by ‘man o the mountains’ Slava we pass through a dramatic valley along the course of a fast flowing river. As the sun begins to fade Aleena our guide tells us how 40 rivers flow into the lake but none flow out. Strange in itself, stranger still as I had been watching the river flow the opposite way as we approach the lake uphill. I say as much to Chris…
“No, it’s been flowing the other way” says Chris.
“Er, we’ve been going uphill”
“No we haven’t, the rivers definitely flowing this way” he points uphill laughing, “I’ve been watching Slava’s foot on the brake the whole way.”
I point out the window and show him the river, now 5 km from the gorge in question.
“I can see that, but back there we were going downhill”
I was banging my head against a Chris wall and turned away to enjoy the scene around us… on he went “blah blah, I was watching it, blah blah, you’ll see I’m right when we come back this way”
“Yes” I say feeling a headache coming on so try to distract myself somehow.
“Blahdeblahdefuckingblah” he went with more lies in an honest kind of faulty way, deep in his enjoyment.
He wanted more..”The valley we were in was another one. Look Phil over there you can see. That’s where it went.”
“OK” I say, throwing in a ridiculous suggestion hoping to prove my accuracy: “I bet you a thousand dollars you’re wrong”… Out popped his hand, whole body animated. I shake it. Atmosphere loaded. Me smiling, Chris laughing and blahdeblahing some more. Pause… and on he goes… “I’d hate to see a grown man cry!” (I nearly was) “We’ll call it a hundred dollars.” “OK”, I agree, “I don’t mind about the money” I add.
So I earned 100 dollars, payment for earache I reasoned, and a lesson for Chris on our close knit trip or hopefully not! His mind was elsewhere, his honour right on the money and dinner on me.
I was gazing at a clear Kazakhstan dawn from our train window as I wrote ideas down for this entry (I prefer to use pen ‘n’ paper for this process as my typing skills eat into internet time. Though I’m learning now that once type has into put the computer, it you can around move easily more paper than and pen, pole haragraphs if you want. Perfect makes practice will, er, maybe.) when I remembered that the night before, with the use of the strong card on the back of my notebook and my penknife, I can break into a locked compartment on this Almaty to Urumqi train. So I suggest to Chris that I could have been a great thief to which he adds “You already are after that 100 dollars.” Ah, regrets regrets. I give him a Chinese rising ‘n’ falling “oooooooooooooooh”, I laugh, he does too and a blood red sun finally climbs the horizon…. hmmmm, for the first time, for a long time, we have the chance for unlimited sleep. I slide back into bed with my whistle and celtic “football” necklace silhouetted in a patch of Kazakh planet sun.
Written by Phil Wake on Wednesday, May 1st, 2002