Travel to Afghanistan on a bicycle

The hero of our column Egor Kovalchuk travels first year. He tried many ways to travel, from quite traditional to hitchhiking, but ultimately chose the most unusual - a bicycle. On it he rewind more than one thousand kilometers and has traveled to many countries. Egor shared with us the story of his trip to Asia.

Will be 18 pics + text source.

Egor Kovalchuk
25 years old, engineer, traveler

For the first time outside the home I left the Tomsk region in only 19 years - on the train, through the steppes of Khakassia. The diversity of landscapes and the rate at which they are replaced, struck me. For the first independent travel, I found time between tuition: 20 days on Lake Baikal, a year - 36 days to Eastern Siberia. But after graduation went to 102 days in the East - Sakhalin, Primorye, Kamchatka, Mongolia. It was a turning point journey - I finally realized what I wanted to do. Finally take root in this thought helped me 5 months of work by profession, became a curse for me. Therefore, June 1, 2012 I resigned, and on June 4 already gone to trial bicycle trip. Since I'm at home just a few days - and again to hit the road.

The purpose

For me the way - a way of life. I am often asked, "Why do you travel?" And I answer with a question: "But why do you live?»
Travel concept in addition to the external component includes and internal. Knowledge of psychology, sociology, environment, changes in diet and way of thinking. By and large, everything that I do, - is the embodiment of children's thinking. Then I could not even imagine that in another country at this time of summer. All sincere, kind, bright and neraschёtlivye thoughts, dreams - everything from childhood. It's great exercise it!

Before each journey, I feel nervous trembling: like ready, sure, but there is some internal shiver. With her I learned to deal only sure way: go towards fear. One has only to begin pedaling as all the fears immediately become illusory. At this moment and realize how we exaggerate the importance of the difficulties and doubts.

There is also an external factor. All sorts of well-wishers each time trying to dissuade me, convinced that in the steppes of Kazakhstan, I definitely eat wolves or stolen steppe nomads, snakes scare me, evil people, bad roads, dishonest drivers, Gopnik, alcoholics. But I've learned not to take all this unnecessary information, which, as it turns out, it is not true to reality. Need to trust ourselves and the world.

I am now fully imbued with the philosophy of life on the bike - a chance to assess what is happening inside you without foreign commentators. Contemplatives I highly recommend going on a long journey on a bicycle without a specific purpose, without the graphics, just forward.

While driving I can learn, learn something new, without losing vigilance on the road, listen Audioseminary on the topic of travel, to develop simple techniques of meditation, concentration. Bike gives a great opportunity to immerse themselves into the inner world, to listen to their own thoughts and organize the information that was received earlier. It's easy - just go. I'm not bored, and I do not feel lonely.



In the way I take with me the most simple technique: the camera-soap-box, an MP3 player, a cell phone with a simple flashlight mode. Laptop I rejected immediately. When you have internet access maps, charts, automatic translator - you have no need to look for the road to ask something from passers-by, to teach a foreign language. To understand the life of another country, its culture, especially, need to communicate with people. Country will not understand for a mere museums, hotels and monuments.


Sometimes I go to the hotel and to be honest: "I want to spend the night with you. Free. " Then talking about myself. Administrators call the owners, and they often go forward. So, I can assure, not everything in this world is built on the money. But it happens very rarely. In the hotels, except an administrator, almost all the tourists, but I'm wondering the local population.

In general, where I just did not sleep: on the street, on the beach, in the park, in an Internet cafe, with hospitable locals in the temples - Orthodox, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist. Several times even spent the night in police custody, where he asked to volunteer.

The daily routine

My day starts very early, well before dawn. At 3:00 - lifting, irrevocably, without hesitation and delays in the "five more minutes to lie." I consciously try to drive the mind into a kind of suspended animation, almost half asleep twist pedal first watch that does not prevent me to watch the road and be careful. Such techniques practiced by athletes and marathon runners. Morning twilight - is watching the stars and the moon, if there are no clouds and the sky is clear. Slowly wakes up the sky brightens everything, in the morning in my player sounds very calm music, mostly - mantra. If the player sat down, I listen to the chirping of birds and insects. When the terrain without steep slopes, I can go in the morning, without stopping, for 4-6 hours.

The second part of the day passes for self-learning, as a rule, the headphones sound different lectures. But most of my favorite activity during cycling - bird watching and clouds. I even heard that there is such a profession - "observer behind the clouds."




The first night I was caught in Kazakhstan in the village Pervomajskij where were located on both sides of the church and a mosque. As a rule, in the village church on a regular basis is no priests, and the caretakers are only in the morning. Therefore, standing a little bit at the closed door, I went to the House of God - the mosque. Despite the general lack of confidence, widespread throughout the former Soviet Union, the imam still let me in for the night in the prayer hall, and together with the bike. He apologized for the fact that at 10:30 pm and 2:30 am, he will once again loudly into the microphone to call worshipers to prayer and can wake me up this.

And was acquainted with the district, who craved the answer to the main question: "Why do you go?" However, even the police entered my story that I'm going alone, without sponsorship and financial support, in the name of peace and good. Finally, when I was asleep, foreman put next to me 500 tenge.

In Almaty, I successfully got the eve of the birth of President. On the day a national holiday were mass ascent to the peak of the Komsomol, the capital was flooded with tourists, and the organizers have arranged all participants free rope climbs and descents.

There I unsuccessfully tried to get a visa to Afghanistan. Led me honesty instead of standard phrases about tourism again, I told her about the peace and good. Consul, with whom I spoke in broken English through two interpreters, said that if I went alone to the city of Mazar, it will give me a visa right now. But if I want to move on to Kabul, he will have to learn for the sake of my own safety on the situation on the road this site and on the war at that time. I could not lie to him, so was advised to go to the consulate in Bishkek.


I settled down in the temple of the XIX century, erected without a single nail. My visit coincided with the great holiday icon names unknown to me. People gathered from all over Kyrgyzstan. The greatest respect I have caused women mother-grandmother, who for two days without stopping cooked meal of several kinds: for the parishioners of the common street boilers and kitchen for priests, fathers and their families. Infernal work has not caused any word of complaint of fatigue. I began to help them, for me it was a kind of vacation we peel the potatoes, cooked soups and cooked pilaf.

In the evening went to the bazaar. Islamists as one claimed I thought and lived as a devout Muslim, and I definitely need to accept Islam. And I remembered that almost every religious representative spoke similar words, who knows, says that all the scientists write about one and meaning in them one and the same. I still do not adhere to any particular religion.

On the same day he met over dinner with a cheerful elderly cleric from Tashkent. He took out his phone and using a calculator to count my sins seven years now - at the rate per day for at least one sin. Figures are impressive. Now I know the bare minimum of their sins. Good man.



In Bishkek, I was joined by a spiritual brother Nick, with whom we met during my travels in India. He went from Krasnoyarsk and catching me - on a bicycle, a hitchhiker, then train. In Tashkent we went already together.

In Tashkent applied for Iranian visa. Generally, in this country at the crossroads of people in each green uniform stopped us with the question: "Where to register?" Uzbekistan was so bureaucratic that sucked the last of us money for various certificates. Frankly, I go every day mode, without looking back, I am much more familiar than being a bureaucratic bustle of the big bustling metropolis. It turned out also that our solutions mistakenly sent to Moscow, so we waited for a visa extra two days are spent in the embassy, ​​where we have taken as their own and allowed to sleep on the couch in the waiting room.

After Samarkand landscape gave way to everyone - from the green fields to the gray mountains. Later moved to a place where the track has already started to sell drinking water in large bottles - there with her big napryazhenka. We spent the night with locals. Just ended Ramadan, it's time to go for weddings, so more and more hits the streets drunk people. Camera for bicycles made in China, bought us in Tashkent, crawled in the heat of high pressure at the seams, and spare tires stank terribly.


On arrival in Kabul almost every counter prophesied us in the south of death at the hands of the Taliban. The situation really was very tense. Searches every day, a lot of weapons.

The eight stay in Afghanistan was probably the most difficult stage of my journey in all respects. On the first day we lost once the two cameras: Kohl forgot your officer in the car, and with my one Afghan fotikom washed away in the town of Pul-i-Khumri. But the loss did not end there: while we snack local melons and watermelons, we were surrounded by a flock of kids, and then disappeared from his backpack a knife and chopsticks. Colin ran a knife along with a small child, who took him to "look».

Contrasts here very noticeable. If on the way here little kiddies on the road stretch just pieces of melon and peaches, which you take and eat, without reducing the cycling course, local basmachata throw stones in the back when you drove by. The country is very nervous, it is felt in everything, not only in humans. Here though, and the birds do not dare to sing, or maybe they just do not hear, and because of the general nervousness of others. Negative subjects bigger than in Russia. All the talk - about the Taliban, cutting heads, captured, bombing, death, death, death. But the worst thing is the police.

The situation is the same as in Russia, the only difference is that we Gopnik just put into the form, and here and polls have given machines. Inspections and Shmona chased us several times a day. After we swept into Kabul police station, where the cops themselves and took the phone and bicycle lamps, and the end of our journey. Consulate forcibly brought us in Mazar on the plane, and then escorted us to the Uzbek border.





In Makhachkala, I went alone. Early Sunday morning in the city there were no cars, no people. With Derbent I started a new chapter in travel, pedaled without any concessions to succeed in Iran before the expiry of the visa. Baku did not call in, too noisy and polluted there - in the suburbs.

Read the signs on the roads in Azerbaijan is very difficult, though, and Latin, the pronunciation is quite another, so confusion getting scared, but I was given a map, compass and more for some reason. Spent the night at the military who participated in combat operations in Armenia and Iran. He enthusiastically praised frightening local army and proudly stated that his son served as a sniper and killed six Armenians. Wherever I went, it turned out that all countries are locked in a war with its neighbors.


The border with Iran, I crossed elated. Again became warmer. Slept three nights in the gazebo at the cafe, no one interfered. Stopped for a few days, a guy named Amir in the city of Qazvin, 140 km from Tehran. In the house there were no restrictions in clothes, all went, what is convenient: a man in shorts, women without Balakhonov. They asked what I think about Iran, and were very surprised by my compliments. Here everything is quiet and friendly. Neither bike nor myself, no one attempted. On the streets should stop at a loss, as there are people asking how to help, including women. And I have become so accustomed to Asian stereotypes that women and look once more afraid.

I every hour more and more fell in love with this country and its people with smiling. Black silhouettes of women in hijabs made the atmosphere even more enchanting. By the way, fully enclosed persons not so much. In general, it is more mature women, young girls go just in headscarves. They are completely uncomplexed, asked my contacts had no qualms, which can not be said about me.

Despite the fact that many believe the country exporter of terrorism around the world, in fact, there is good and safe. I often stopped on the road to kiss greeting traditionally treat fruit. Sometimes offered and drugs, but that I always refused. Afghan smoke here often, but drink a little. Although its disadvantages missing. This is primarily religious requirement that women must cover their hair in public, and men, despite the heat - wear long pants.

I still foisted jeans, and the city had to walk in them, so that my new friends had no problems. Women and men in public transport travel separately, the gender division of all in all. People very unhappy with this policy, but the protest here is not so easy. That's why I was so amazing to see in such a closed country as good, open people



Turkey met me sternly - wind that literally knocked me to the ground. Have you ever seen that bike was sent down the slope, and went up? And I survived!

Then still warmer, mountains turned into green hills, in the morning is no longer walked pairs mouth. On the way to the west met cycling Germans traveling to the south. Nice guys, but the European constraint does not allow them to accept gifts just. Therefore handed over from the heart of Iran calling cards they still gave me the money.

Two nights accommodation in a mosque in a village of 20 houses. After two weeks of non-stop, I really needed a rest, both mentally and physically. In the mosque, I was accepted without question the faith and purpose. I've been reading, writing, watching movies, doing exercises, helped the imam cut firewood. One morning when I was going back on the road, the police arrived - see if everything is in my order. The peculiarity of the local cops is that they want to help, not to create problems.

The Turkey that remembered me and stayed by my feelings, real and original, it was the central-eastern mountain. Coast, according to which I drove the last few days, it was studded with bars, restaurants and hundreds of similar towns.


In Georgia, or Gurginistan, as it is called neighbors Turks, I arrived on the eve of the presidential election, so everywhere reigned proper environment: leaflets and posters, treatment of candidates, talk on the topic. Here Saakashvili do not like - like Putin, and indeed the entire policy between our countries. Very happy that many people understand this artificially created mess with conflicts and restructuring, so in general to the Russian is very good attitude.

The people of Georgia are very concerned that many Russians, yielding television provocations, take it on faith that Georgia has now become the most unfavorable place for tourism, what's chaos and negative attitude to the Russians. This is not true. Everyone is waiting for changes, when the country will rush the flow of tourists from neighboring countries. People have often asked my opinion about the country: how, they say, we have here, a bad thing?


I crossed the Russian border on 25 October. On the Georgian side demanded strict customs different documents on your bike, and then thawed and switched to his peculiar people of hospitality. On the Russian side the lack of pedestrian crossing at first much perplexed border guards, but he solved this problem, put me in a "Gazelle" with Belarusian numbers.




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