Monday, November 10, 2008

Uzbekistan, FY rides again!

So, after finally tearing myself away from Bishkek, a separation almost as bad as a worn bandaid coming off a weary toe, I headed south back to Osh and back onto the bike for the ride to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Lately the blog has had more references to the idea of cycling as a general concept, rather than describing my cycling trip, possibly because i haven't done much cycling lately. But I assure you, the 4 day trip to Tashkent put me firmly back in the saddle and brought the dream of cross continental cycling back to the forefront... for a while.

The Uzbek border is about 4 km from the centre of Osh, so when my bus arrived at 5am and the people I was meant to stay with weren't answering the phone, i decided to hit the road. Running on 3 hours sleep and a pot of sweet hot tea I hit the border mid morning and without too many troubles (not even a baggage check this time!) I was well on my way to Andijon, the first Uzbek town on my way.

My policy these days is as soon as you enter a town, head for the biggest bazaar you can find, for 2 reasons; generally thats where all the action is, and also its one of the few things i can now comfortable communicate in Russian. Upon my arrival at the Andijon bazaar, i was immediately surrounded by a horde of beautiful young (and a few oldies...) Uzbek women, most of which had had at least the front half of their dentition replaced with blindingly bright gold teeth. After the initial questioning of where are you from, what are you doing etc etc. I was handed a cup of nice hot coffee (still standing in the middle of the street) and offered my choice of prescription drugs which they were selling on the black market out of their handbags. My love for Uzbekistan was borne

The roads were pretty fantastic, and for the first time on this trip i had a noticeable tailwind helping me along, all of which made the 450km trip a lot more comfortable. The police were also surprisingly friendly or at least suitably uninterested that they didn't give me a rough time.
The only problem came at the top of the one big mountain pass i had to cross, where the military guys wanted to check my passport and visa and ask me every possible question about myself, Australia, kangaroos and my thoughts on Uzbekistan, while i stood in the snow and ice, with a bloody gale blowing around us. Thankfully i left with all my toes attached, although it was another 3 hours before i could feel them again.

Unfortunately my time in central asia is rapidly coming to an end, and soon i'll have to make a bit of a jump by plane to Turkey and get back on the bike from there. So in order to fit in a few sights on the way, my trusty bike FY is once again resting while I parade around the country by train for a few days.

Uzbekistan is another one of those silk road countries whos history reads like a who's who of ancient conquerers. The greeks, turks, persians, russians, muslims and all their cousins, uncles, pets and siblings paraded through here at one point or another, leaving a multitude of amazing mosques, madrissas and mausoleums. Also as another byproduct of Soviet 'planning' the borders of Uzbekistan managed to include both Samarkhand and Bukhara, two predominantly Tajik cities packed with ancient architectural and historical jewels. Sucks for the Tajiks, but works pretty well for me, because most of the people here speak Farsi, which makes ordering my daily kebab much easier.

No photos this time, but will try and get them up soon!

1 comment:

Nazy said...

I love the way you casually drop the names of obscure towns of countries i couldnt point to on a map, and seamlessly weave historic analyses into your blog posts, while still remaining light-hearted enough to account for humour (im loving it).

Its like you're well-travelled or something...