Posts Tagged ‘Bukhara’


Burnt and frazzled, I sit in my hotel in Qashi which is registered to host foreigners. Note to self: sun-screen bought in Uzbekistan does not work. Second note to self: allow 2 hours to find a hotel able to host foreigners. Officially I need to stay and register in a hotel every night. Tomorrow night I am camping.

That golden smile

That golden smile

Central Asia is heating up. After noon it is like a furnace, and any self-respecting cyclist is having a siesta – or trying to – lying on a carpet sofa being offered vodka, and discussing German football.

A 3-hour lunch-time break was opted for when I noticed my arms were bright red. My newly bought sunscreen seemed to have no effect – certainly not the SPF60 claimed on the tube. I told the people with the vodka of this – Uzekistan sunscreen no good. Shocked and insulted they investigated the tube – it’s made it India. Not Uzbekistan. Relief.

I was told that when in a big city I need to stay in a hotel and register (as there is a hotel, and there is no excuse not to use it). After Qashi, hotels are a bit thin on the ground, so I can camp and have a good excuse at the border. Well, try to find the hotel in Qashi. A first random cycle around resulted in nothing. Asking someone for a hotel meant that I sat in his office while he phoned some people to find out. I then was taken to a hotel – one which is not allowed to house foreigners. They took me to a second – which is also not allowed to house foreigners. I am staying at the third. I’m looking forward to my tent tomorrow. No hassle.


What did I do in Bukhara? Sleep. Vegetate. Blog. Bog (toilet). Video. I went for a short walk around the old town. I’m not a normal tourist. Bukhara was down-time for me. Not cycling.

Bukhara

Bukhara

In Bukhara I spent quite some time on the toilet. My body said it had had enough of cycling – it decided to make sure I get some rest. So, I got the shits. The excitement increased when I tried the local remedy – doping.

Salt and glucose solutions

Salt and glucose solutions

Samarqand is a big detour on the way to Dushanbe in Tajikistan. I wanted to see it, but I didn’t want to cycle an extra 300km through the heat – so – I became a normal tourist and caught the train (Bukhara – Samarqand – Bukhara). I can confirm that I prefer cycle tourism. A lot of elbow-work was needed to finally reach the counter at the train station to get the ticket (like how I remember India). In Samarqand, the people contact was more professional – I was a tourism customer. My bike is the key to making personal contacts to people, and I didn’t have Drahtesel (my bike). I purchased tickets to see the sights. I negotiated guide prices. People called out to me to buy souvenirs, bracelets, carpets, hats. The sights in Samarqand were beautiful. I have now seen them.

Samarqand

Samarqand

Samarqand

Samarqand


‘Why are you taking a photo?’
Thomas was taking a photo of me walking to the toilet with a jug of water to wash my backside.
The man was worried. Was his toilet no good?
‘You explain, Thomas. I need to go!’
Going to the toilet in Uzbekistan.

Going to the toilet

Going to the toilet

‘In the west we use toilet paper.’
‘We have toilet paper too!’ The man was insulted. Uzbekistan people are advanced too.
‘Yes, but you only use it to dry your backside after cleaning it with water.’
‘Yes.’ This was a yes as in, that’s obvious, why mention it. ‘You don’t use water?’
‘Yes, but only after we have cleaned our backside with toilet paper.’
It was becoming clear, a detailed explanation was required. I explained the two methods with graphic detail, acting out all the actions so I could be understood. The man – a café owner – grinned, showing us his lovely golden smile.

Cafe owner

Cafe owner

When I left Europe, I would have found this eastern method of toilet hygiene challenging. Now it is the most natural thing in the world. Indeed, it is more hygienic than using toilet paper.

We have now left Turkmenistan, and there is no visa time pressure. This means we sleep in, cycle at a snail’s pace, and have an afternoon snooze.

Afternoon snooze

Afternoon snooze