Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), 13.06.2013
This morning started very slow at 06:00, admiring the lake and hills around the tent, with an espresso and some reading about our next destinations. China, Pakistan, here we come! After the Pamir Highway, the Karakoram Highway is the next challenge waiting for us. We left at 11:30, with a short drive to Bishkek on the agenda for today. The road went around a part of the lake and then into the mountains. Temperature went down to 9 degrees, the sky filled with clouds. The good tar road takes you easily to almost 3000m, in the green valleys local shepherds have pitched their yurts, sheep, cows and horses are fat around here, on the side of the street you can buy yogurt and cheese balls.
Then came the ride up the highest leg of the road, fog surrounded us and visibility dropped to less then 10m. We drove slowly behind a couple of cars, some of them with no lights! At the peak we passed a narrow tunnel, the road full of holes, almost no ventilation and light, and trucks coming the other way blasting out black diesel clouds.
Like a miracle on the other end of the tunnel the sun was shining and 20 degrees made us turn off the heating again. An hour of downhill driving followed, and at 14:30 approx we stopped at the foot of the mountains for lunch. Laghman noodle soup and Mante (a sort of steamed dumplings filled with meat and onions), bread and tea: 200 Soms (€3,10).
From here to Bishkek it was a short drive on a flat road, traffic became more intense as we approached the capital. As we were planning our entry into the city the Range Rover suddenly gave a yellow alert on the display: engine power reduced. Indeed, at 2700 rpm the engine didn’t give more power. No two minutes later the alert repeated, but in red. Oh oh, not good. As we approached a crossroad with red light in the middle lane, the engine suddenly turned off. There was no way to turn it on again. Around us drivers were going nuts with our vehicle in the middle of the road. We managed to push it across the crossroad to the right side of the road through full traffic, although the steering wheel was barely moving with the engine turned off. And there we stood, in the heat and chaos of a city we didn’t know. We called Land Rover in Madrid and they told us to find a workshop and take the diesel particle filter out. Luckily there happened to be a car repair shop across the road, but they had no lift for the car. But the very helpful guys arranged a transport of the Evoque to a workshop that fixes the few Range Rovers out here. In all of Kirgizstan we learned there are just two Evoques and some Sports and Superchargeds. At this workshop we lifted the car, called Land Rover Madrid again, but they were closed for lunch. When we finally could reach them they explained us what they would do in this situation. The guys at the workshop found a way to connect a PC to the car and scanned the error messages and found malfunctions in the diesel particle filter and fuel pump. But it was late in the day, so we agreed to start working on the car the next morning at 09:00.
We took out bags out of the car and the guys from the workshop drove us to our hotel. What a surprise, the Hotel Evropa is a beacon of European civilization in the middle of Central Asia. Don’t get us wrong, we really like Central Asia. It is just quite different from Europe in several ways and after 2 months continuously on the road we really appreciate to have a little bit of Europe back, for a short time. Clean, spacious, modern rooms, perfect bathrooms, hot shower, WiFi at lightning speed. And a French restaurant on the street, surrounded by flowers. We had our first western dinner in 2 months, French cuisine. And our first bottle of wine in weeks! What a luxury. But great to close this disappointing day.
Trip data for the day
– Km driven: 350 approx*
– Hrs on the road: approx 5h
– Diesel l/100km: 7,9 approx*
*We lost today’s trip data through a reset of the car computer