Thursday, 30 August 2012
Day 156 - Accident #3: Mauled by cows. (Kyrgyzstan)
Driving on Kyrgyz roads is a challenge – a fun and exhilarating challenge perhaps, but a challenge all the same. Besides the suicidal drivers, the lethal roads, the landslides and sheer drops and the very interesting selection of vehicles, there’s the endless stream of herds of animals sauntering along, taking up the entire road. We’ve discovered that approaching them front on is easiest; if they see an oncoming vehicle they seem to sort of move themselves around it, albeit very slowly and not always completely. From the back proves much more of an issue as they just keep walking straight, seemingly with no idea that you’re even there. We have “hit” (it’s more of a bump, no more harmful than when they walk into each other) many a sheep and cow, although I think we’ve managed to avoid the horses and donkeys so far. They tend to be the animals being ridden by the shepherd/farmer/whatever.
Well there we were having spent the afternoon exploring the small town of Aslanbob and its surrounding walnut forest (the largest in the world) looking for a campsite, when we came face to face with a herd of cows. The road we were on was wide enough for us and possibly one cow next to the car. A steep cliff face rose up on our left, and on the right was a steep drop into the valley. We moved left as far as possible without tipping the car over, hoping the cows would merge to our right and we could pass them without too much hassle. The cows didn’t seem to notice we were there though and just kept pushing forwards. Completely surrounded by the animals we stopped moving forwards, closed all our windows and sat tight whilst we watched in awe as they shoved themselves past us on both sides. Four or five deep on either side, they were threatening to crush us, the ones on the cliff side literally falling on top of each other into the side of the car. A few minutes later the herd passed, we were still alive, and the farmer rode past on his horse, laughing at our misfortune.
On inspection of the car we found a scratch down the side from a horn, a few dents here and there and missing reflectors from both side doors. We went back to the scene of the crime and found the reflectors. So other than a bent bumper from a Thai scooter rider (Day 34) and dented side panels from some Kyrgyz cows, the car’s still in great shape.