“Umm, Heather, where’s my bag?”
Look around under the chair, behind the computer, around the Internet cafe, where is it? I can’t see my barbag, and as I look around more, and still don’t see it, things seem to slow down, in that car-crash way. What if I left it at the restaurant? Run out the door, back down the road to the restaurant, but they’re closed. Back to the Internet cafe, no it’s not here
Well, what was in it? My passport, a few hundred dollars, my GPS, my camera with ALL my photos since London, my travel journal from Turkmenistan to here, a credit and a debit card and my MP3 player. So only the most important stuff to me, that’s why it was in the barbag, rather than at the hotel. Bugger
There was a small chance I had left it at the restaurant, but checking back the next day, they hadn’t seen it. They were nice people there, with an honest feel to them, and I believe that they would have given it back if I had left it there.
That left only the Internet cafe – someone must have taken it from under my chair. It’s easy enough to get engrossed in what you’re doing, or possibly it was when I was talking to Heather. The following day, when trying to get some assistance from them to put up a sign offering a reward for return of the documents/memory cards, they were appallingly rude, and I suspect them of being in collusion with whoever took it – it was possibly dragged back into a back room, based on where I was sitting.
The nearest NZ embassy is in Moscow. There is not even a British embassy or consulate in Kyrgyzstan. What to do? On my way back to the restaurant, I saw a couple of other touring cyclists, so stopped to talk to them (bike touring works like that). After a bit of a chat, it turned out the cafe we were at was run by the honoray British consul. So I had a chat to him, and he’s a nice guy, and offered good advice. I’ve spoken to Barbara at the NZ embassy in Moscow, and she’s told me to apply for a new passport through London. Apparently that will take around two weeks. But no-one within 5,000km has known me for more than five years! No worries, the consul will help out with the referee stuff. He can also help out with providing an address for receiving goods.
And things could be worse – I’ve got money in a few locations, and I still have an HSBC debit card – so it’s not like I’m starving on the street. I have money, access to more money, and most of my stuff, especially the bike! I could get emergency travel documents, but they would only really let me go straight home, and where’s the fun in that? I probably wouldn’t be able to get the necessary visas without a full passport.
So the plan is to apply for a new passport tomorrow, do a bit more shopping getting replacement items, like a camera, compass, etc., then I’ll head off to the Issyk-Kul area for a couple of weeks. I’ll then come back via here, hopefully pick up my new passport and credit card, plus a new barbag. Or that’s the plan anyway.
One problem will be visas – I had Kyrgyz, Kazakh and Chinese visas in that passport, and I’ll need to get them again. Could be a bit of a pain, but it’s really just a matter of time and money – and I have both. Could all be worse, at least I wasn’t physically harmed.
All a bit of a shame, as the ride up from Osh to Bishkek was one of the best rides of my life – especially the last few days, riding up over 3,000m passes, across the jailoo, yurts and horses everywhere, just fantastic. And then a drop of 2,500m in one afternoon on good roads – it was about as good as it can get. But shit happens, and life goes on, and I just need to deal with that. Things will be alright, and I’m calm about it.