I’m Fine ,really I’m fine!

Sometimes it’s not enough to just ask are you OK? Sometimes you must ask again just to be sure.We had had a difficult day with many things not going to plan,of which I’ll detail later . The experience we had made us both think that sometimes you just have to go with a gut instinct and act.

We were heading out of town about 25km from anywhere it was about 19:00 and starting to get dark added to which the intense heat of the day had turned thundery with dark heavy rain clouds opening up when we saw in the distance a solitary European young girl pushing her bike up hill puffing away, she was not dressed or equipped as other cyclists have been just normal clothes and a pretty shabby pushbike with no tent or other equipment it was just as if she was out for a pleasant cycle. So we stopped and asked her was she OK? To which she replied “I’m fine really ,I’m fine” in an English accent.We offered her some water but she declined and off she went pushing her bike on up the long assent which we had just come down so we knew what lied ahead for her 25 km of hard slog .

We set off down hill heading further out of town to find a camping spot for the night as it was getting late and the rain was imminent and we had had a difficult day ourselves With my head full of our own problems. After about 10 mins we decided to turn around and see if she really was as Fine as she was claiming ,she obviously wasn’t and when I asked again are you OK ? The smile on her face told us all she was far from fine,she was very happy to climb in the back of Amber with a snickers and a sprite from our fridge in stony silence obviously relieved to be in a safe place and possibly suffering from a bit too much sun.We drove her 25 km back to town just as the heavens opened in biblical fashion and dropped her off with her bike as it was just getting dark to find a guest house for the night she was so pleased and happy to be in a safe place, a different face to the earlier one which gave of that slight look of concern but trying to convince us she was “fine ,really just fine!”

The reason I’ve documented this is not to blow our own trumpets ,but to highlight that sometimes, just sometimes people aren’t “Fine,really just Fine” and it’s good to ask a second time just to be sure.

When mean Wild camping I mean Wild!

We found this dried up river bed which suited us just great as well as these vultures!

Nothing like a cold beer and a foot wash at the end of the day!

Yurts up in the mountains not for show but for living in !

Marmots all over the place up in the mountains

Picked up our Mongolian Visas after a couple of days great service from the embassy staff in Bishkek

Met up with these two legends of the overlanding community Coen and Karin check out LandcruisingAdventure.com. They have been on the road since 2003 and a great inspiration and fonts of all knowledge, had a great evening with them getting advice for our next stage via Russia,Mongolia and onto Japan where they had spent a lot of time. Awesome chance, meeting with Coen seeing Amber and inviting us to supper so thank you guys and thank you Amber for catching the eye of another overland nutter!

Side of the road beer stop ! Very refreshing but non alcoholic!Just as well as we picked up a speeding ticket doing 64kmh in an alleged 20! Just after trying a pint of this wheat based cold drink.The police officer had parked his car in front of the 20kph sign so well hidden ,I could sense he was quite cross when he pulled us in .So I decided that it was a fair cop and paid up ,treating it as a road tax. Excessive vehicle speed was the cause of an earlier accident we had witnessed where an articulated fuel tanker had flipped on its side on a narrow mountain road earlier that morning spilling its load of diesel and resting on the edge of a 50m precipice .So from then on ,every speed trap we passed well below the limit as we waved at the police to their disappointment.

Another wild campsite this time beside Lake Issyk-Kul which never freezes in winter even at minus 30 degs as it’s heated by hot springs and was great for swimming in

We had stopped for a coffee and this guy arrived sharing coffee a biscuit , he was the local farmer and very proud of his crops and cattle which he showed us .He was wearing the traditional Kyrgyzstan hat which he explained is to symbolise the many snow capped mountains which surround the area.

Another bit of tractor Porn! This one isn’t paying my pension thankfully! They do like to bale their hay green.

And now to the tricky bit!

After travelling on tracks like this with severe corrugations, poor old Amber suffered a bit, unsurprisingly! We had been doing quite a lot of off road and these tracks are the worst ,with regular evenly spaced bumps in the road which set up severe vibrations throughout the vehicle and the only way to overcome is to travel at speed and keep out of the ruts! This however had its downsides which we experienced eventually.

Earlier on in our day of rescuing lone female cyclists we had been in search of a birds of prey centre which was down this track, with lots of shaking and shuddering giving us and Amber a good old shake down.After climbing up hill for about 3km I applied the brakes and nothing happened ! No brakes is a serious issue at the best of times and where we currently were ,this was no laughing matter! Upon inspection I could see we had lost a brake pad ,the retaining pins had shaken out shearing the locking pins and letting the pad fall out! I concluded that the missing brake pad would be back down the track so off we went for a walkies hunting for brake pads, pins and springs! In 30+ deg heat we looked long and hard eventually finding the errant brake pad but no pins. So back to amber and strip down brake calliper to get pistons back where they should be and then improvise with some tent pegs?


The saga continues when I try to find some replacement pins in Almaty after travelling 400km with tent pegs holding us together and bump into Leigh and Steph who are better know as GrizzlyNbear check them out on youtube !These guys have been travelling for 10 years in their Defender 130 and demountable camper and have an incredible video library of where they’ve been and what they have been up to – well worth a look for some inspiration .

These guys were a great help in advising where to get replacement pins ,which were available to order but a two week wait ! Leigh introduced me to a local 4wd specialist who ran a workshop in Almaty. Thinking they might have some secondhand bits and pieces I arrived full of hope but no luck as Landrover Defenders are a rarity in these parts ,with Toyota’s being the most popular and no chance of parts compatibility. So I had a rummage around in their old nuts and bolts heap and found some used bolts which were the right dimensions and with a little grinding down and drilling holes, bugger me ,we have pad retaining pins! I reassembled the brakes and then spent the rest of the day having a maintenance day checking oils, changing rubber bushes on steering damper,and a general grease around having had engine oil change earlier, I’m happy that we are fit to hit the road again and ready for the next adventure packed day, what ever it might bring!

Yea were fine, really fine, honestly ,but thanks for asking !

3 thoughts on “I’m Fine ,really I’m fine!

  1. We had a similar experience of an “are you all right “ question
    A man sitting on Path at 5,000 metres . He turned out to be a a South Korean professor who had walked up to this height without obeying altitude laws . When we went back and asked him again we discovered he could not stand due to High Altitude Cerebral Oedema. Porter carried him back to our hospital and 48 hours later he was well again …. but moaning at the bill he had to pay !!


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