Days Km: 675 , Total Km: 9839
Whats the last thing a extremely tired Aussie and South African bloke want at 4 in the afternoon at an Uzbekistan border post?
A complete system failure on their computers… Ok well maybe not the last thing but it was still rather soul destroying as we sat there for hours on end waiting for the technician to fix the buggers whilst the border official played clash of clans on his phone. To top it off we could watch the progress of Bruce’s front tyre slowly deflating once again…
Finally around 19:30, with all our paperwork sorted we could roll down the road to pull off the wheel and see what the problem was. Luckily it was patchable and so we set off into Uzbekistan and immediately the difference was phenomenal. Gone were the whitewashed sterile villages and back were the laughing children playing in the street, the age wrinkled man trundling along on his donkey cart and the smiling families as they worked the fields. It was extremely refreshing sight to see but we couldn’t linger to take it all in as Bruce had set us a deadline: a beer in hand by 21:00 which would make it exactly 36 hours since we’d slept.
And so at 20:45 we rolled into Qosha Darvoza a converted Caravanserai in the historical fortress town of Khiva. Its was heaven after the past week and would recommend it to anyone travelling through. It’s an oasis of calm with a central courtyard we could safely park the bikes and best yet a fridge stocked with some icy cold beers just in time of Bruce’s beer deadline! So clean for the first time in a week and with a lovely little beer buzz we tumbled into bed and slept like the dead!!
Our 2 rest days in Khiva were much needed and well spent. Despite our late lie ins we managed to tinker away a bit at the bikes, fix a couple of things, and clean all our gear which I’m ashamed to say was in dire need of a good scrub! On top of that there was a fair bit of exploring to do but I’ll let the pictures tell most of that story.
From Khiva it was back into the desert. The Kyzylkum desert this time, another flat vast expanse of absolutely nothing! Thankfully we could travel at a slightly more sedate pace through this one. And despite another flat tyre and having to beg fuel off the locals or risk running out, both of which seem to be becoming common occurrences for us and not really noteworthy, it was a rather uneventful day. Although Bruce still hasn’t forgiven me for not finding him a melon to have under shady tree.. in the desert?
Bukhara, another ancient city along the silk road was our next stop. Its the most well preserved of the medieval central asian cities and around every corner we were greeted by seas of glazed blue mosaic and towering minarets with the ‘Ark’, a fortress town built around the 5th century AD, standing sentinel over it all.
However when it comes to mosaics and majestic central asian architecture I’m afraid Samarkand takes the cake. The last of the 3 silk road cities our route through Uzbekistan would take us to. More specifically speaking Registan square takes the cake. Fronted on three sides monumental Madrasas, islamic schools, that leave the eye wondering over layer upon layer of altering shades of blue only to continue up and up following the lines of the gracefully curving domes then to once again head skyward along the straight lines of the minarets. Its very easy to be transported back into the 15th century and imagine the bustling market taking place in the square lined with bustling Caravanserais and haggling merchants.
Last but definitely not least and probably the most important thing of note for Uzbekistan is that it was the old boys birthday. despite neither of us having the most robust of stomaches, otherwise known as Uzbek belly, it would have been a shame not to have a cake and a couple of beers and so off I set on a grand mission to find a delicatessen in a city where finding a working toilet is a grand success. Many games of charades and some terrible renditions of happy birthday later I’m proud to say there was a birthday cake with ‘Happy birthday Bruce’ scrawled across the top and almost spelt correctly! Unfortunately neither of us could take full advantage of either the beer or the cake and it wasn’t long before we were scurrying for the loo.. Some birthday…
All in all Whilst the riding wasn’t the best, Uzbekistan more than made up for it with friendly smiles, some extremely accomadating locals and awe inspiring architecture in some truly ancient cities that have seen the likes of both Alexander the great and Genghis khan marching through.