We loved the Uzbek city of Bukhara, beautifully restored and with plenty of character.
The rest of the country, well, to be honest we were lukewarm on it. While Samarqand was nice, it didn’t compare to what we’d seen in Iran. And the bureaucracy started to drive us crazy before long. Who wants to register in a hotel every night?
We left early and headed instead for Kazakhstan.
Some things are more enjoyable than others and for us we would rather be cycling backwards down a 10-lane highway at night than figuring out how in the world to get visas for Central Asia. What a nightmare. It’s impossible to get reliable information (the Uzbeks tell us something that contradicts other travellers and agencies).
“Any carpets? Drugs? Guns?” We shook our heads and giggled. The thought of carrying a carpet or a rifle on our bike tour was oddly funny to us. The guard smiled too. “We’ll search your bags, just to make sure there’s nothing dangerous.” Turkmenistan was trying to be thorough as we made our way through
We managed to get up before the farmers this morning to the beautiful sight of the sun breaking through some low clouds as a bright red ball in the sky. After breakfast “bread and chocolate spread with some not-so-great coffee” we set out to knock off the last few kilometres into Bukhara. It was too
We’re getting into the groove of Uzbekistan now, a few days after crossing the border. The country has greeted us in style with two of the most marvellous cities we’ve seen anywhere on our travels. Bukhara and Samarqand certainly live up to their reputations with charming old quarters and a string of tiled mosques, madrassas
It took us less than an hour to be stopped by the police in Tashkent. “Documents,” the young man in his tall hat and turquoise uniform said in a Russian accent, looking us up and down with a serious expression. We’d been warned to expect this. Every corner in Tashkent is full of police, or
125km Tashkent-Shymkent Kazakhstan greeted us with the sound of the Beatles playing from a speaker outside a slick new shopping centre. Inside its air conditioned walls were all the big clothing names, an Apple computer store and a thoroughly modern supermarket. We were back in the land of vegetables wrapped in plastic and whole rows