A Secret Hideout

It rained last night so that everywhere was wet when I woke up in the morning. 

Even the air was wet, as if the fish can just jump out and swim in the air. 

My breakfast was two cups of coffee, two meat-filled pancakes, and two eggs, thank to the night-shift guys in the hotel.

I was ready to bike for today right after finishing the breakfast. 

The wind was much better compared to what I had encountered yesterday. We were having a gentle breeze today.


About one hour later, I saw a city appeared in the fog. 

I seemed to see a tall building standing there, looked like a well-developed area. 

With the hope of finding the internet, I detoured immediately to search for this city.

However, when I physically arrived there, I found the “tall building” was just a regular factory; 

the whole city was just another regular city I had seen in Kazakhstan. Well, just a short detour, no big deal. 

Wait a minute. What was wrong with me? 

I detoured to this city because I THOUGHT there was internet available here, 

and I left because I THOUGHT this city was no difference from other cities, 

which had no internet anyway. 

I needed to do some research to proof my THOUGHT was a reasonable or an unreasonable one.


So I looked for the answer, with my “mouth”, to ask around. 

I asked a truck driver if there was any internet available around this area, and I was ready to go as soon as he told me “No”.

But, I heard a “YES”, which was a real surprise to me. 

He pointed the building that was kind right in front of me. 

Suspiciously, I walked over to that building, which actually looked like some office building with a chain on the door. 

Then I walked to the back of the building, and found a door, without a chain on it. 

I opened the door and asked if I could use the internet.

A friendly guy went to get another guy to connect my laptop to a phone-line. 

Sure enough, I started enjoying the slow, old-fashioned dial-up internet world. 

He left to do his own work after everything was settled, and he did not ask me to pay for it.

I was on the net for about an hour, and the ladies in the office invited me to have a “tea party” with them. 

Savory snacks—cookies, hams, cakes, with hot black tea one after another. 

This would be my lunch, I thought. Food, internet, friendly people. I really had a good time here, thank you all so much.


There was a super critical fork that I had to remember to turn left, so that I would be on the way to Kostanay. 

I certainly didn’t want to get lost in/to nowhere.

After making the right turn (which was a left turn), I entered a couldn’t-be-worst road. It said, “Under Construction”.

“This road was actually not meant for any vehicles but tanks”, I told myself while biking on it, and I had ten km to go.

The road was horrible, and the muddy puddles were everywhere, thanked to the rain last night.

I couldn’t walk with my Dido, since it was even more difficult to walk. 

So I biked slowly and took every mud that the cars splashed on me

(I didn’t want to fell in the mud by changing my direction to avoid the splash). 

It took me an hour and a half to finish this 10 km.

Under normal circumstances, I would say this was the worst road I had ever biked on. 

But after the 10-km I just experienced, I was actually appreciated this one I was biking now.

As soon as I left the terrible construction area, a restaurant was standing right there to welcome me. 

This was the best location ever for a restaurant. 

Every car finally finished the worst-ever ride stopped for a drink or some food. 

I almost couldn’t get myself into it.

I laid down all my packs on a car, and started to clean the mud on Dido with my fingers. 

But most of the mud on the tires and the mud guards had to be washed away with water, 

so I brought Dido to the puddles to “clean” the mud away.

I lost a water bottle, during the muddy ride, I thought. 

That meant that I would have 700 cc less of water for the road, “got to find another one”.

I cleaned up my stuff and finished the potato bread. Guess it was time to go.

I hoped the construction section was over; I had really low expectation at this moment. 

Well, my wish was not grated. Just a few minutes later, 

the “Under Construction” sign came up again, and the same terrible road condition came up again. 

What worried me was not just the muddy road, but also the spokes on Dido’s wheels. 

Every time I bumped on this extremely uneven road made me skip a heartbeat.

Struggling riding in the mud, I was feeling really frustrated and angry. 

Then the construction workers saw me and waved me over.

I didn’t want to go at the beginning since I was so pissed by their “construction”. 

But I was such a polite person, I waved back.

The next thing I knew, I was invited to ride on the fresh asphalt road they just finished. 

It was still bit sticky and soft, but it was better than muddy. I thanked them and got on the road.

Interestingly, there was a car ahead kind of waiting for me, he also waved me over, and this time, I received MONEY. 

Although I tried very hard to explain that I had enough money, 

he insisted that I took it and used it to treat myself some nice lunch. 

I didn’t want to be rude, so here I was: 500 tengs rich.

I spent so much time struggling on the muddy road, which significantly delayed my progress. 

Therefore, change of plan for today. Instead of doing my best to reach the destination, I planned to play by ears. 

I would replenish my food with any chance I had, at gas station, grocery store, restaurant, etc. 

When it became dark, I would just find a place to camp.

HOWEVER, there was no gas station, no grocery store, and no restaurant. 

So I decided to continue biking as late as I could to avoid staying somewhere too remote at night.

It was almost 9 o’clock when the sun went down, and I still couldn’t find anything. 

The “Under Construction” sign just showed up the third time today, 

which really put me off. So I biked into a small town, 

which was built along the railroad, but the train station was nowhere to be found. 

This was a small town, lots of cottages or regular size ranches, 

lots of chickens, sheep, cows, and lots of barking dogs. 

What I really would like to see but really hard to find was “human beings”.

I finally saw some kids and I asked where I could find ANY stores, I meant, ANY stores. 

But the answer was “NONE”. Totally hopeless. 

Well, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, which was to find a place to crash for the night.

I had two options in front of me in front of me. 

The first one was a spacious deserted house, in which all the windows were broken, and “doorless”.

Another one was a small house nearby the railroad, looked new, and WITH windows. 

Some one was probably supposed to take care of this house, but that some one was obviously not here today.

I decided to pick the door number two. 

However, the door seemed to be locked, so I would just camp outside of this house.

Just when I changed into my slippers, I found the kids in this town all came here to see me. 

It turned out that the kids in town heard that I came here to spend the night, 

so they also came here-to fill this little house with laughter. 

The whole thing started by a kid named Rustan, he was the leader of this group.

Rustan had a bike with a “power steering wheel” and “leather seat”, he treated me as his brother, 

regardless of my age or my nationality.


I couldn’t believe this little town can hold so many kids, and it felt so warm to be surrounded by them. T

hey seemed cute and nice, so I shared my snacks in my backpack with them: 

strawberry cakes, chocolate beans, crackers, chocolate sticks and fruit candy.

These kids were so well-behaved, they didn’t fight for food like I expected. Instead, 

they waited for me to bring the snacks to them one by one, and they did say “thank you”. 

I gave out almost all of my “food”, except the pork sausage, 

which I was not sure if they were allowed to eat pork, and a bag of peanuts, which tasted awful. 


So far, I still had my two pieces of chewing gum for dinner, which was not a problem for me. 

I was really happy to see the smiles on those faces, totally worth it.

To me, it was very easy to get those snacks on the road, as long as I had some money. 

But I thought that maybe for kids in this little town that had no stores at all, these snacks might be hard to get, 

and I was sure they would cherish this little surprise, and that was my best reward.


This little house was also a secret hideout for older kids, to smoke cigarettes. 

I asked if they had dinner already, they told me that smoking of course was important than dinner. 

Then they showed me the key to this little house and opened the door.

I pointed inside and wondered if I could sleep there tonight. I got 100% “aye” votes so I moved in.

Looking at those kids, who were looking at me,

I felt so touched-- thank god I was not surrounded at by “Jiang Shi 

(also called Chinese vampire, which was reanimated corpses that hop around).

Some kids went home to bring me a bucket of water to wash my face and to drink. 

Some kids went home to bring me a big glass of hot tea. 

Some kids pulled my sleeve to invite me to stay at their house for tonight, 

I joked that their parents might kill me if their kids brought a stranger home like this.


Thanks for these kind kids; I had water to clean up myself. 

These little kids filled up this little house, they were very curious about the photos I took during this trip. 

I asked them what cities they wanted to see first: China, or some big city in Kazakhstan.


And guess what? They wanted to see the photos of their own town. 

It was very interesting that the same town that you could easily see from the window, 

surprisingly made these kids so excited when they see it on my laptop. 

As if the town looked very different from their own eyes and on the photos.


After seeing the photos of this town, they finally felt interested in seeing photos that I took at those big cities of Kazakhstan, 

which they probably would never visit in their life.

Then they asked to see China, and their eyes were all lit up experiencing the foreign country from the photos.


Suddenly, somebody shouted, “Grownups are here!” 

which for some reason, made me nervous and wondered if I should run with them. 

But, wait a minute! I AM a grownup too, and where could I run?


Well, it was actually a false alarm, no need to worry.

It was past midnight; finally some kids started yawning and said that they had to go home to sleep. 

FINALLY! I was barely awake myself, but I didn’t want to just ask those kids out so I could sleep. 

After they left, I made my “bed” with sleeping pad and tent, and I went to sleep.

Sigh. How I wish that I could really call it a night.

3:30 A.M. The door was opened and a beam of light woke me up.

This time, the grownup WAS here.


A drunk guy at his mid 30s, short and skinny, asked me what was I doing here. 

I tried my best to explain that I only needed to crash here for one night, he insisted me leaving immediately anyway.


One thing was clear here: it was very difficult to communicate with a drunk person.

However, he was not TOO drunk for sure, since he suggested me, with his hand gesture, to pay him some cash to stay.


Not that I didn’t have money, but I didn’t want to give him any. 

He took out a cigarette and tried to look for the light, which I guessed that he lost it somewhere when he got drunk. 

So I gave him the matches that the convenient store gave me for lack of changes. 

Unbelievably, this little matchbox softened his attitude to me.


As I was packing everything and ready to leave this house, he patted my shoulder and said, 

“Ignore what I just said, you can sleep here tonight.”

Wow! For real? I could sleep here for tonight? 

I was still wondering how real this was, that guy lighted up his cigarette and left the house.


It really made me nervous when “grownup” comes, but every grownup was a kid once, right?

English version of trip log is translated by H2、MD、Liz、mouse、John、Robin、Eric、Moe、virginia, many thanks to them.