Posts Tagged ‘Uzbekistan’


I walked through the door piercing the surrounding high wall, and entered touring cyclist paradise. Vero and her house and garden are famous – all touring cyclists come here before setting out on the Pamir Highway. And here I am, little Matthew. I’m about to set out on the Pamir Highway!

Vero giving us tips on the Pamir Highway

Vero giving us tips on the Pamir Highway

Three young French cyclists ushered me in, bikes in hand. These bikes looked hard-core, with tyres wide enough to fit on a small car. As I entered in further, more bikes were hanging around. In front of me was a beautiful verandah with armchairs and couches, and a big garden full of cyclist’s tents. Another cyclist was sitting on the verandah reading. A parrot in a cage welcomed me as I was shown inside.

I had heard of Vero from other cyclists on the way. Famous like Akbar in Marand, all cyclists find themselves staying here. I spent the evening sharing stories and dreams with the other cyclists, and before I knew it, it was bed-time.

Its great to be cool again. After my heat-stroke (was it that?), I stayed in Denov for a day, mostly lying in front of the fan, or sitting inside the air-conditioned supermarket. In the evening the cool change rolled in, and it was wonderful. I cycled to Dushanbe through the haze into a headwind, but was happy. It was cool again!


Surreal scenes of waterfalls, greenery, skies with fluffy clouds. In the foreground lions, maidens with milk jugs or kingfishers with freshly caught fish. These posters hang proudly in every café, hotel and restaurant. Today I dreamed about the cool water in the scene, tried to ignore the whoozy stomach and lethargy, and lay down to rest in front of the fan. Today was scorching.

Waterfall paradise

Waterfall paradise

The sun was blazing down, the road rose and fell in an undulating, dry, barren landscape. The road surface was horrendous, and I felt nauseous. It was 12:30 and I pulled into the first café I saw and flaked out on the carpet couch. I couldn’t face anything to eat. I just sipped on a cold bottle of Coke.

Midday rest

Midday rest

After a couple of hours, I managed to put away an ice-cream and some salad, and didn’t feel so hot and lack-lustre. Then a commotion outside. A second cyclist – Maxime from France. A cycling partner for the day.

Then we ran into another 3 cyclists coming the other direction. We chatted in the shade of some trees, putting off the departure back into the heat.

Before the heat struck, it was a lovely descent from Boysun into a surreal landscape – big bumps in the landscape, and a mountain range of plates of rock sticking up from the plains at an obscure angle.

Bumpy landscape

Bumpy landscape

Donkey

Donkey

The road has everything

The road has everything

Tomorrow Tajikistan if I am up to leaving the hotel.


Uphill again into the town of Boysun. There were rumours of a B&B registered for tourists. I had made the major climbs in the early morning and in the late afternoon, but still, I was knackered. Then a boy jumped out.
‘Hotel?’
‘Yes!’

Landscape near Boysun

Landscape near Boysun

Cycling in the mountains and heat takes planning. On the menu today was a big climb, a big drop, and a second big climb. This was done on a mixed bag of brand new roads and bumpy, rocky, sandy affairs. Its nice being in the mountains again. Lovely views, and it is not quite so hot.

Approaching the pass

Approaching the pass

Mountain ridge

Mountain ridge

Herder

Herder

My standard 3 hour afternoon rest/sleep. This time I was harassed by flies – and they bite!

Midday rest

Midday rest

My B&B has found a niche in the market – cycling tourists that are required to stay in registered hotels by the Uzbekistan government. Apparently there are cyclists most nights this time of year.


I’m on the cycle road to Dushanbe. I hear word of other cyclists that have passed. People are not surprised by my destination. Cycle in the morning. Sleep after lunch. Cold shower and then on into the evening. Cycling in the central Asian heat.

Midday rest

Midday rest

Today I was given a screw. A kind gentleman helped me out at the garage when I discovered a screw had come loose and fallen off making my front pannier wave around. Today I was given a piece of watermelon. And today I was given lots of encouragement toots.

Watermelon

Watermelon

And I am happy. I’ve left the endless hot, flat plains. I’ve climbed into the hills. It doesn’t feel so stiflingly hot and the scenery is nicer. Bring on the Pamir Mountains!

Up from the plains

Up from the plains


Campsite

Campsite


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.


With a bit of time on my hands, and a good internet connection, I have put together a video of the next leg of my bike trip. See what you think.. 🙂


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