Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Uzbekistan


Saturday, May 23rd, we entered Uzbekistan.
We liked the country right away, despite the evil (almost) opposite wind and despite being exhausted from rolling. We crossed along the way so many of those cute donkeys, caring big branches of mulberry trees, food for the silk worms. In fact, Uzbekistan is among the biggest producers of silk. The evening sun made the sceneries so beautiful and romantic.


We reached Bukhara around 9:30PM, after a super long ride of 188,5km and a border crossing. We found Daniel and Alexia, our Belgian fellows who advised us to join them in their hostel, before leaving for dinner. But an another guy wanted us for his hostel and we were too tired to argue, we followed him dully toward what we had been waited for the whole day: a warm shower, a cosy bed and a cold beer!

The next day, while wandering around this beautiful and peaceful city, we bumped into this young boy, sticking to us for hours to sell postcards. Speaking surprisingly good Italian, he even brought us to bazaar (as we had just a few Uzbek Som), bargained the exchange rate for us (!!!) then left happily after we took 5 "cartolini" (with stamps, please) without waiting for the ice-cream that Alessio bought for him (and which I ate, happily too :-) )   


Monday, May 25th, while having a prolonged lunch under some mulberry trees and drinking beer, we saw 2 cyclists passing by: Jean-Francois and Xaviere (yeuxdenfants.com) were leaving Bukhara - but it was before meeting us :-) :-). So along with Reece, a British cyclist, we spent a lovely evening together at Rahima's home. Rahima was about to host only Reece, Dan and Alexia but finally extended her hospitality to all of us. Seven cyclists in da house, it was something!!!! And we were really spoiled by Rahima (what a dynamic woman!!! Wouauh) and her lovely family. There were also memorable moments with mosquitoes troops feasting on us (we were warned!!!): the night had the rhythm of clapping hands, stamping feet, cheeks slapping, such a modern orchestra :-) :-)

The next morning, after a huge breakfast, we hit the road, like a long caravan on the silk road!!!!



Seven cyclists rolling together was something unusual on the road, but also for us. It was quite an experience to try to find a common rhythm, which was not always easy: some like regular small breaks, some need a long pause with nap, some like to roll as soon as they wake up, others couldn't start the day without a hot coffee.... Fortunately enough, our plan changed so we had plenty of time to modulate our rhythm and to enjoy being with others.

After one day, Reece chose to continue on the highway - the better, shorter road to reach Samarkand, the other six decided to go on with the bumpy small roads through villages.

For the next four days, beside peddling, our lives were punctuated with

Regular small breaks


Peaceful naps in restaurant after lunch



Nice camping spots



We arrived here when the village was celebrating something with loud music and even louder laughters :-) but we found this quiet little place to set our tents. During the evening and even the next morning, we were greeted by lots of visitors, had to decline lots of invitation and had seen ourselves offered a huge bag of cucumbers :-)

Thursday, May 28th

It was so hot and dry that we all craved for some shade and some fresh water, not only to drink but also to refresh ourselves. So we stopped around 3PM, when we found this perfect spot a bit hidden from the streets.

The owner of the land where we set the tent, had this little puppy, so cute with his eyes which made your heart melt. The poor little thing suffered of so many ticks on his little body. Alessio and Alexia started the rescue operation and the puppy stayed quiet, apparently happy that finally someone took care of him.


Here, unlike in Iran, we could see people touching dogs and animals. But taking care of them is an another story. When we encouraged the kids to caress a little donkey (so cute, with fur smooth like velvet), they first looked at us, half perplex, half amazed, not sure about what do to. After a while, they started touching then caressing him and finally seemed to enjoy it.



Askar, the the land owner's 14-year-old son was very curious about us and spent the whole evening around, showing us the way where to get water, to buy beer and food :-) :-). A bit shy at first, but the temptation was too big, he even finally shared a bit of dinner with us. It should have been a new experience for him to see that women can drink beer, can smoke and men can cook (!!!). But it seemed to be too much when he saw Daniel and Alessio washing the dishes. He tried to stop them, almost alarmingly screaming "No! No! No! It's their job" and pointed at Alexia and me - we were tidying our stuff.

We all laughed, it was funny on the spot but clearly showed a macho mentality, very common in Central Asia (and not only). We wondered whether the contact with us helped him to be a bit more open-minded, to see that different behaviors could be possible or on the other hand, he is now convinced that the European way of life is really something to be banned.....

The next day, we stopped again around 3PM in this lovely "park" outside a (famous?) high school. Alessio, once again, set up a camp-shower ( the "room" made of our tent protective canvas and a tyre (an extra that David had brought for us from Ireland), and the shower - our water bag - hang up in a tree). 
Some students came and started the discussion. Bekhruz insisted on offering us some plov: it was his 19th birthday.


So it was our first plov - the national Uzbek dish (and you can find it everywhere in Central Asia). Plov or, as you can see, rice, carots, onions, meat cooked for some hours in lin oil and spices was not the most healthy dish but damn delicious!



We ended the day at the last village before Samarkand. We chose to set our tent on the empty field, quite far from the village so no one would think about coming over to offer "chai" to to invite us home.


But we didn't expect to meet someone like Zair - the village "President"!!!! He followed by car Daniel and Alessio, coming to the village to ask for some water, till our campsite to renew, for the 100th time, his offer: "Come to my house, we have enough plov for all of you to eat and we have enough space for all of you to set tents"!!!!
We tried to say that we preferred to stay (our tents were already set).... but each time, he washed off our refusal with a big hand gesture "No no no, come to my house...."

Finally, we found a compromise: we would be at his place for breakfast!

The next morning, Zair or Mr Plov as we call him now, sent a car with 3 men, at 7 AM , to remind us of the appointment!!!!

Mr Plove lived indeed in a big house and a huge garden with his family



The table was already prepared before our arrival, with full of fruits, bred, yogurt, salad.... and a hug plov that half of us couldn't finish (so we had lunch with...)



We stayed in Samarkand for 3 nights in Abdu, a lovely hostel with very nice staff.

Wednesday, June 3rd, we left Samarkand with Jean-Francois and Xaviere while Dan, Alexia and Luis - a Peruvian cyclist we already met in Bukhara preferred to stay a day more.
We had quite plenty of time so we rolled slowly, made as many stops and we wanted (anyway it was way too hot to roll in the afternoon: we once saw 53,6C and decided "illico presto" to stop!). The essential things to do during those days was more to enjoy our two friends' company than anything else.

But of course, we enjoyed the country too. Uzbekistan is rather a flat country so easy to ride, the landscape is rather dry with big patchwork of fields


Uzbek people are so sweet and hospitable. Anywhere, people hosted us with smile and joy. We just needed to knock to a random door that it would swing open wide, that our host would lead us to a comfy big room with mattresses and cushions, food and drink.

Here, in this big family of 7 children (and some from the neighborhood), after a long rest, we spent a great moment with everybody.

Girls always like and know how to pose 



We all felt under the charm of this little cuty - a promising strong character in the futur!!!! It's very common here to shave baby girls' head so their hair would grow stronger and thicker



The entrance of our "room" when the "gang" finally got in


For a photo's session


Everybody was curious about the result



In Termez, we developed some pictures and sent back to them, hope that Uzbek post works properly :-) :-)

We stopped this evening in a field nearby a family, living simply in a mud house. We felt privileged to have a glance on their daily life





We loved so much Shukhruz (???) the little boy with the crystal laughers. All the family seemed to be so happy together that it was almost palpable.



Friday, June 5th

We made a stop in a bazaar. While Alessio and Jean-Francois went to buy food, Xaviere and I waited patiently near a beauty salon. The girls, shyly proposed us some chairs at first ended up by pushing us inside and gave themselves a big pleasure to give us haircut, make up and eyebrows' wax.... At least 10 girls were giggling around us. It was a merry mess that we enjoyed very much!!!!


Sunday, June 7. Our quarto was down to two duo: Jean-Francois and Xaviere, having less time than us, headed to Boysun while we made a detour to Termez, close to the border with Afghanistan and known to be the hottest place in Uzbekistan (hm, very promising!!!!).

Everywhere on the road, we were greeted by troops of curious Uzbek



Sometimes, they even caused traffic jam but the drivers, so cool, didn't bother to protest much.


We kept enjoying Uzbek hospitality, camping in their garden instead of the little parcel we asked for on the street, shared dinner with them instead of pasta in the tent :-)


Exchanging, laughing with them instead of being only two


In Denov, the last step of our Uzbek journey, we stayed 3 wonderful days in Azamat's family. We spent time playing with his 4 lovely kids


learnt how to cook Uzbek food: plov, manty and everything...


At the end, we felt really part of his lovely family. We said goodbye, tears in eyes, pinch at hearts.


Wednesday, June 17th, we rolled the last km on Uzbek land before passing through the custom service. Goodbye Uzbekistan, we had a lovely stay! Hello Tajikistan, new challenges were ahead!!!! Pamir - the Roof of the World with passes of more than 4000m was calling...... 

Stay tuned for more updates of Rolling Potatoes


PS: For more pictures about beautiful Bukhara and Samarkand and other places of Uzbekistan, please visit our facebook page: www.facebook.com/2rollingpotatoes

3 comments:

  1. seem there are lots of cyclists out there. K nhận ra bạn Bình cái đoạn ở tiệm cắt tóc, trông như cô dâu :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. hế hế, cô dâu thời những năm 70 nhể!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. hey,
    photoes are difficult to load in this black hole :p but i read you
    glad you're still rolling.
    A couple of days back we finished the SS*. Gaël had saved the last drop till I get back. *(Sureau Syrup).
    Farnaz

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