Across Continents

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Pit stop

Cafe

I’d ridden hard from Zhangaqorghan towards the town of Turkistan, anxious to make as much ground to the south as I could in the relative cool of the evening. I’d intended to stop around nine and discretely pitch my tent away from the road, but instead came across a small settlement. Gave me an idea. A homestay. Usually very inexpensive, and a great way to experience village life. But had to be quick. Would soon be dark.

Asking around, I was directed to a small family run roadside cafe. In a mixture of broken Kazakh and Russian, I explained I’d hoped to reach Turkistan that night, but it was now too late. Could I sleep here? Yes. It seemed I could. And Emma could spend the night in the porch. The usual fascination with my map and phrase book over, I was beckoned to the water pump in the yard to remove the worst of the salty grime I’d accumulated. Then a generous bowl of mutton soup, a roll mat, pillow and duvet. Bed at last. Not bad for about five pounds.

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