Km 4988 – Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
WEATHER & GENERAL STUFF
After some strict rules in Iran and the very short stay in Turkmenistan, we continue towards Uzbekistan and find a new peculiarity that makes travelling more difficult. Every tourist has to follow the duty to register. This means that travellers have to register in an official hotel (and sleep there). Depending on the interpretation this has to be every night, every third night or only if you stay longer than two nights. For cycle tourists with “camping stove and tent” these rules are hard to meet. But we plan to check in whenever there is a hotel. Besides that, certain food is not available or very expensive (100 gram of chocolate cost at least 2 Euro, in some villages fruits and vegetable are not available at all). The weather isn’t good for cycling either. We suffer from the unpleasant heat (35-40 degrees). It is therefore difficult to advance cycling in general, especially between 11am and 4pm when it is about to impossible to sit on the bike.
It is again the people who fascinate us. With Buxoro and Samarkand Uzbekistan forms an eye of a needle for many travellers along the silk road and we therefore meet many like-minded people. Also locals invite us spontaneously to their homes, wave us and help, although it is not always easy to communicate (few people speak English).
BORDER – BUXORO
Already from far we can spot a blue dome-shaped roof which belongs to one of Buxoro’s famous buildings. As we relax in the hotel we suddenly see Jean-Pierre from the Netherlands looking around the corner. We had already met in Tehran and Mashhad. This guy cycled the complete distance through Turkmenistan, didn’t even use sun block and now suffers from a little heatstroke. We spend some time with him in Buxoro and appreciate his pleasant company.
I am annoyed that for most things we would like to manage only have of it can be achieved. The washing machine takes only half the load and is expensive. The internet is working only sometimes, in the meanwhile it totally stopped working and when we look for bike parts at the bazaar we are asked a ridiculously high price. Even in the small supermarket you have to negotiate the price for a bottle of water…. this is tiring. In Iran most of this was easier, the people seemed to be more helpful. Tourism can change a city/region – often negatively. But all in all, Buxoro is a beautiful city. Concentrated in the city centre there are many old impressive buildings which are great to watch in the evening sun.
BUXORO – SAMARKAND
The first night we camp shortly behind Buxoro and try to get up early the next morning to escape the heat. Unfortunately, we only manage to ride our bikes at 8 am, but after a long lunch breach we discover some clouds and by afternoon time there is a storm coming from our backs. This storm helps us to cycle our daily kilometre record of 95 km. The same day we get invited by Alisher and his family to stay overnight. The dad of three kids hardly speaks English. But sometimes he remembers one or another German word, because 15 years ago he bought a Mercedes van in Germany and drove it to Uzbekistan. We play with the kids and our day finishes relaxing in the cool inner court yard.
The next day we go to Samarkand – some parts by bike, some hitchhiking or by bus. Samarkand is another attraction for tourists. The antique buildings seem to be just a little higher and the walls just a little thicker than those in Buxoro. Altogether we only spend a few hours sightseeing, because most of time we prefer relaxing in the inner court yard of the hotel again. There we meet other travellers. Among them Jacques, a French cyclist with a recumbent bike. His friend is visiting him for one week and says the awkward sentence: “I will be working on Monday!”
SAMARKAND – FERGANA
As we roll out of the city during the early evening we have difficulties to find a hidden camping spot. Behind a field we just lay on the floor on our matresses without putting up the tent. Luckily, there are no mosquitoes which makes this possible. The sky full of stars is sparkling above us and we enjoy this romantic moment. How much do we really need to be happy? Not much – we both agree on that.
We spend our long lunch break underneath a thick and tall tree. Around our heads we can see many scarfs that are tied to the twigs. All of the sudden, four elderly women appear from nowhere and tie new scarfs to the tree, pray and give us bread and cookies. At night someone explains us that they try to ban their illnesses with this ritual.
- To escape the heat, we hitchhike about half of the distance. In Fergana we meet the 18-year old Ahmad. The young guy impresses us. He seems mature and tells us proudly that he is earning his own money since two years. He speaks English and Chinese fluently (besides Uzbek and Russian) and a textile company hired him because of his language skills. Besides that he works as an English teacher. Actually, he should also go to school, but he is not convinced of his teachers’ teaching skills and prefers to study at home. To not have trouble with the papers he pays money to some teachers. Corruption to not have to go to school. Totally normal, states Ahmad. Most of the time only 5 or 6 students attend the classes. The rest of them works. After his diploma (A-levels) he would like to study in Malaysia, to be able to found his own textile company later on. The two days with him and his family are very easy-going and we are especially happy to finally be able to have more profound conversations in English.
FERGANA – BORDER
Early in the morning we say good-bye to Ahmad and his family to be able to manage the longer distance to the Kyrgyz border. It will be a long, but good day. We jump on our bikes and try to get a ride outside of the city – in vain. Later I flag down a truck while cycling and Kolja, the good-hearted, slams on the breaks for us. He takes us for over 50 kilometres, buys us cold juice and sweet pancakes. Although we are only able to find one more very short ride that day (proud 7 km) and therefore have to cycle a huge bit of the distance (approx. 70 km), we are lucky: the sky is cloudy and the people are especially friendly today. Several times we are given apricots and invited to the national dish Plov (rice with carrots, raisins and meat). But we sadly have to reject the latter since we would like to get to the border before it closes.
- Arriving at the border, we are allowed to pass the long queues of locals once again. In spite of all worries about getting in trouble for missing registration slips, without any control we smoothly slide onto the other side into a new country.
INFOS ABOUT PICTURES AND OUR ROUTE
- Because of the rising amount of picture we now seperated them into regions. Therefore pictures regarding Türkmenistan and Uzbekistan can be found in the German menu “Bilder” under the tab „Central Asia“ or just click here.
- To see our route we took in google maps, you can open the tab „where are we“ or please click here.