Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Posts from — August 2008

Day 149 (Uzbekistan): somewhere behind Guliston - Tashkent (not everyone is allowed to celebrate)

daily distance: 111km
total distance: 9567km
riding time: 5-6h

I had nothing much in mind but to get myself to Tashkent. It was a bit of a longish ride headwise and I just wanted to get it over with and get a couple of days of rest in. And nothing much happened during the biking part of the day. Got in, made it, done. The area was not particularly interesting, undulating terrain for the most part.

Once in the city, Islam had things set up for me. I was met by Abdiammon and a friend of his at the statue of Amir Timur in the center of the city as Islam was busy himself.

From there, we proceeded to the apartment of his sister who hasn’t yet moved in and so I have the place to myself for the time I am here.

After some relaxing, we set out to do some bazaar-hopping and then finally met up with Islam.

Funny thing, you never met someone, but you already have so much to thank this person for. Islam studied in my hometown, we have common friends and so it happens that he organized a great deal of things for me here in Tashkent. We met up over dinner with another friend of his (with whose family I stayed in Jizzax), had a great time chatting about his time in Gengenbach and about common friends and acquaintances. As is often the case these days, the topic of Georgia also came up - all of us wondering how differently the perceptions are in Russia and Europe/US over the issue. All of them remarked that the news they seen on BBC/CNN differ so widely from the Russian news that they don’t know what reality is about.

On a more thought-provoking note, meet the deportation bus. Yes, your eyes are fine. I was walking towards the bus when Abidammon gently moved me away from it. I looked at him kind of quizzically and he said it is a deportation bus. My look changed to a big question mark and he explained that the government moves certain people out of the city for the celebration of independence day. This is me being a lawyer maybe, but they are allowed to be in the city generally, they work, they pay taxes and all that fun stuff, but when other people celebrate, they are forced to leave the city for their hometowns.

Plunked down my head for some much-needed rest after a great dinner.

August 20, 2008   No Comments

Day 148 (Uzbekistan): Jizzax - somewhere behind Guliston (political games = detour)

daily distance: 131km
total distance: 9456km
riding time: 7h

Guzal’s father drove all the way to the end of town to see me off after a delightful breakfast with the family. A very moving goodbye was followed by rather uneventful riding through agricultural land on mostly terrible roads. 

There is a bit of a required detour that I am needing to take. Instead of making a bee-line for Tashkent, I am taking a big detour as Uzbekistan and and Kazakhstan can’t seem to agree on some kind of transit system through this tiny bit of Kazakh land over which the main highway runs. The whole thing is nothing but silly politics … just one of the features of traveling I suppose.

The rest of the day was more running along the same highway and trying to make as many miles as possible towards Tashkent.

August 19, 2008   No Comments

Day 147 (Uzbekistan): Samarkand - Jizzax (what a messy day)

daily distance: 113km
total distance: 9325km
riding time: 9h

My body wanted to stay in Samarkand and I could have stayed without any problems, but visa issues are waiting and I got an invite for a wedding in Tashkent later this month. All of this meant that I thought I should move along. I am choosing a long detour (don’t ask why) as opposed to simply heading into Tajikistan from here. This way I may also get around the impending border closure that the Uzbek government may be having in mind. Or so I heard. It’s independence day on September 1, and for some this is a good reason to close a border. What a bunch of !@#$. I am sorry, this makes no sense to me.

At any rate, I set out and things were good for 20km out of the entire day. The rest was … wind. An angry, feisty, nasty wind. My stomach wasn’t happy either. I had to stop all over. I schlepped myself into Jizzax more than anything else.

What made the day special though was the reception at the friends of Islam. He is organizing most of the trip it seems and has friends all over the place (and if not, he asks friends of friends it seems). They were extremely kind and generous and we had a great time after I had come back from the dead. Thanks so much!!!


August 18, 2008   1 Comment

Day 146 (Uzbekistan): rest day in Samarkand

It was my day off and I was shot still. I felt woozy and tired, had a hard time getting up. Everything was catching up with me and swirled around me. Mostly exhaustion. First though, breakfast …

This is the time when giving your bike some love is a good idea. It absolutely deserved it too. Take a look for yourself.

That done, I took care of the bags while I was at it.

The bazar provided some really good foto ops …




We set out to get some other stuff and tour some sites … can’t be in Samarkand without doing some touristy things.


On the way back we wondered past a cemetery with moving tombstones and engravings.


More internet happiness (meaning fast uploads) followed and another delicious meal at the family’s home. This time it was mantis, steamed dumplings.

August 17, 2008   No Comments

Day 145 (Uzbekistan): Chorvador - Samarkand

daily distance: 103km
total distance: 9212km
riding time: 6h

The sunrise was extraordinary and given that I had been sleeping outside, I enjoyed it as I was packing up. It made for some good foto ops too.



The wind had been OK the day before, but now it was back where it had been for days on end. I cycled right into it - while at the same time going uphill. I had been promised a long uphill, with a long downhill to Samarkand to follow. That one never came and so I kept slugging along into the wind until I turned a corner where things became a bit more pleasant. All the while feeling pretty exhausted and not well at all.

When I got to Samarkand, I was already stacked out with Islam’s relatives who were waiting for me there. We met at the Registan and took the necessary picture before heading to eat something. I should maybe say that I have been here a couple of times, so the usual tourist thingy didn’t really apply. But here is one of the welcome comittee with my bike at the Registan …

I was also pretty exhausted overall and just wanted a day off and not much inbetween. What I did want to do was upload some pictures and update the website (I am woefully behind in posting, I know). The first two internet cafes were no good. They allowed nothing, the third one was also restrictive, but has what I consider lightning speed. I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere. The uploads were blazingly fast and that’s why you have been and will be inundated with pictures from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan until Samarkand.

Islam’s relatives were simply great, they received me in their home with open arms - and plov, slightly different from the one I had enjoyed with Feruz’s family, but likewise delicious. A big thanks to Eljor and Fedya who - both in their own ways - made Samarkand a great stopover on my trip.

August 16, 2008   1 Comment