While waiting for our Kazakhstan visas, we decided to cycle for a few days around the Urumqi area. We planned out a loop that would take through the Tian Shan Mountains, over a 4200 meter mountain pass, and then drop into the desert. That plan, however, got shot down after we got snowed in at 3200 meters and bailed on the loop.
We didn’t want to head back to the city and sit around for 3 days so as we headed back down the way we came and decided to have a vacation from our vacation. We would spend the next few days just riding around the area, enjoy the scenery, and having short days to enjoy our campsites. The first night down we found a great little spot to camp that was out of the wind, close to water, and pretty sheltered from view. We looked at the map that night and saw a few cool places we could check out in the area. A reservoir and river were close by and looked promising so we decided to try for it the next day.
Unfortunately the next morning brought a strong head wind that was pretty chilly so our plans changed again. There was some sort of tourist attraction near our camp site so we decided to check it out. Conveniently there was a road that looped into a small town 20km away where we needed to pick up supplies, then headed back to our campsite via the tourist attraction. We headed into the small town, this was the same small town we stopped in a few days earlier, and got veggies and fruit from the same fruit lady.
After we were all stocked up we headed up the valley, with the wind thankfully, to see whatever attraction was ahead. It was a nice uphill ride, that gave us great views of the Tian Shan mountain range. After a great downhill, we headed back to the same campsite we were the night before. We got there nice and early with time to clean up and relax.
And since it was a Saturday, there were many families picnicking in the area and a very nice one brought us meat skewers, milk tea, and Plove, a traditional Uzbekistan dish. It was a great day and we were happy to be back in our little campsite.The next day we decided to try for the reservoir/river again. We headed back to the same little town, got supplies from the same lady, and headed on our way. The scenery was much different than the past few days and we felt like we were riding in Arizona or the Cappadocia area of Turkey.
It was dry and dusty and a stark difference from the areas we had been riding.
We eventually found the river, but decided to keep going on the road to find the reservoir. Well that road quickly turned to dirt and the reservoir was still 30km away so we decided to turn back and follow the river. After 10km or so we saw a tree oasis on the other side of the river. It looked like the perfect place to camp, in the shade, next to the water, and away from the road. The only problem was getting there. We had to somehow get our bikes and gear over the river. It wasn’t too deep or running too fast so we unloaded our bikes, Jared carried them across, while I carried the bags. All the hassle was worth it because we had a nice campsite, cleaned up in the river, got some laundry done, and then had time to relax.
The next morning we found a make shift bridge cross back over the river so we didn’t have to unload and load our bikes again. It also saved out feet from getting cold and wet. Since this was our last day of our vacation, we decided to head back to our little campsite for one last day of relaxation. We stopped off one more time at our fruit lady, she probably though we were nuts, to get a few last supplies. We got to our little home nice and early and spent the afternoon and evening writing and editing pictures.
Our little vacation had come to an end as we headed back to Urumqi the next day. We were bummed we didn’t get to do our seven day loop over the mountain but it turned out to be an enjoyable seven days cruising around and relaxing.