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uzbekistan (bine)

  
Uzbekistan
Aug 15, 2008

uzbekistan (bine)

Jul 18, 2008 - Aug 10, 2008

5899 km, dushanbe (TJ)

Kungrad - Nukus - Tortkul - Bukhara - Samarqand

we had to cover the 300 kilometers from the kazak border to the first uzbek town by train. our uzbek visa was already running because we had to wait such a long time at the harbour in aktau and because of the little dog shetpe. the train should leave beyneu at 06.30 and because we were worried about the carriage of our bikes we have been there one hour before. but the train was already waiting and a lot of people were at the platform. they were entering and leaving the train, things were sold and it was a real chaos. it took us a while to find the right waggon and even longer to get all our luggage in the already full train. we were already sweating when we sat down after almost one hour. we had to cover only 300 kilometers but our train needed twelve hours! the whole time women were selling food and beverages by going through the train. you could even buy toys, clothes and perfume. the border crossings were no problem. when we arrived in kungrad, the first town in uzbekistan, we cycled 30 kilometers and then put up the tent. but it was very hard to find a place. because there were a lot of houses. unfortunately there were so many mosquitoes that we had to get into the tent immediately. and there we sweated a lot, because it was still very hot and humid. in the desert it was more comfortable because it was getting cooler in the evening and there were no insects. but because of the many canals everything is green here. the next morning the alarm went on at 04.00 but only at 05.30 we managed to get up. today we want to make it to nukus until noon. because afterwards it gets unbearable hot. luckily we had tailwind and so it was an easy task. unfortunately the nationalbank was already closed. there it is possible to get cash advance. this is important because there are almost no ATMĀ“s in uzbekistan and it is only possible to change cash into som. the hotel was really expensive again (30$) and after a shower we went to the bazar. we found a really good cafe. there we could eat superb food for only 0.50 $. the bazar was great you could buy everything from clothes to spices. the night has been pure horror. it was unbearable hot in the room and so many mosquitoes that it was impossible to sleep. the next morning we managed to get an airconditioned room for the same price. we had to pack our things again but it was worth. we went straight to bed. in nukus we visited the savitsky museum. in this very interesting museum you can see pictures which were forbidden in the udssr. we also met another cyclist, rob from israel. thank you very much for the tajikistan tips. when we left nukus we were surprised by a really heavy thunderstorm. first it was hailing and after that we could cycle just ten kilometers before a sandstorm was forcing us to get cover under a bridge.
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan
The uzbke steppe, near Nukus (UZ, July 2008)
The uzbke steppe, near Nukus (UZ, July 2008)
cycling in this heat was very exhausting. we got up at 05.00 and tried to cover as much kilometers as possible until midday. we had to rest from 12.00 to 17.00 because it was so hot (about 50 degrees in the shadow). once we spent the afternoon under a bridge, because it was the only shady place. it was also used by roadworkers, they invited us to bread and soup. most of the time we rested at a chaykhana (teahouse), there you can eat and more important get cold drinks. . bine: after four days cycling in the desert i decided to take a lift to bukhara and wait there for uli. it is too hot and i need a break from cycling. i have not much hope to get a lift. but when we are standing beside the road a very modern bus is approaching, i had never imagined that it is going to stop. but it does and a few minutes later my bicycle is loaded and i am sitting in an airconditioned first class bus (it is the first one i see in uzbekistan). it is a tourgroup from france and they are really cute. in bukhara the tour guide even invites me to dinner in a very fine restaurant to a three course meal.
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan
Medressa in Bukhara (UZ, July 2008)
Medressa in Bukhara (UZ, July 2008)
to find a hotel is really easy, because there are a lot of really nice ones. unfortunately i have to go to another one after one night because the owner is a real asshole. he cannot remember our arrangements and the days i want to stay. but i am not alone, another tourist has also to go. But i am lucky with the next one. the hotel is run by a very nice family. i meet dirk, a german cyclist, and we spend some time together chatting and drinking beer.

_

ULI BEGIN

the red desert solo

the tour guide tries to convince me to get into the bus, too. "It's dangerous in the desert! Please come with us!" but i really want to cycle this part and so the bus leaves and for the first time i am by my own since a very long time. it is important for me not to get overexhausted in this heat. because then it is very hard to go on. i have to find a chaykhana until midday. to get to the first one i have to cycle 76 kilometer. because also here it is almost 50 degrees in the shadow it is not easy for me to recover. i have to go to the public water tap very often to wet some clothes to cool down. i get in contact with a lot of truck drivers, they invite me to join them by their lunch. so i get to know a lot about their life and uzbekistan. i spend almost five hours there and the coming and leaving of the trucks is very interesting. one group buys melons near nukus and sells them in samarquand for much more. on a really bad gravel road i cycle 40 kilometers more in the evening and i am very exhausted. i feel no thirst or
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan
In the redsand desert (UZ, August 2008)
In the redsand desert (UZ, August 2008)
hunger in the evening. a bad sign. shortly before it is getting dark i have to push my bike hard through deep desert sand to a camping spot. naked i lay on my mattress in the tent and wait that it is cooling down to find a few hours sleep. at sunrise i pack and cycle on. the next days are almost the same. but i find a chaykhana earlier and manage to drink more, so i feel better. the meetings with the uzbeks are very interesting and when i leave a chaykhana i say goodbye to everyone. some richer uzbeks even give me some money to show their respect. i try to get to bukhara in three days but the heat and very bad roads make it impossible. on the fourth day i cycle relaxed into wonderful bukhara and find the hotel via e-mail from bine. we embrace and are very happy. ULI END i am really happy when uli is knocking on the door after four days. it is much more fun to discover beautiful bukhara together. we decided to go to tashkent together with dirk by train. there we will hopefully get the visas for tajikistan, kirgistan and china. the train journey is really sweaty. it must be 50 degrees and you can open the window just a few centimeters. we really manage it to get three visa in three days. we are really happy that we got a chinese visa, because it seems that the chinese embassy in tashkent is the only one to issue tourist visas nowadays. the train journey back to bukhara is more comfortable because it is cooler and after one night in bukhara we are cycling to samarquand. now we are not alone for the first time, dirk is joining us. uli an i have some visa pressure because our uzbek visa is expiring, we have to get to the tajik border in four days. and we want to visit samarqand in 270 km. we enjoyed bukhara more than samarquand. because in bukhara you have an entire old time and in samarquand the old buildings are dotted around a normal modern city.
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan
Registan, Samarkand (UZ, July 2008)
Registan, Samarkand (UZ, July 2008)
our time in uzbekistan was very intensiv, mostly because of the heat. it dominated everything: cycling, relaxing, camping... the big highlights have been bukhara and samarquand for me. the most impressive towns i have ever been.
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