Days 87, 88, 89 : Commuting in the desert

8 Aug

We got delayed for around 20 days during the trip, and when we arrived at the uzbek border, our visa was only valid for 13 days, which made it impossible for us to cycle the whole thing.  We therefore had to take a train from Beyneu (Kazakhstan), cross the uzbek part of the desert for 600 km, then take a bus for another 700 km and reach Samarkand, where we’d start cycling.

Putting the bikes in the train and bus was cheap and easy. Uzbek people are incredibly welcoming and easy going, and so were train controllers, bus drivers, soldiers and policeman we met during the journey. We were treated as VIP’s in the train, got seated next to the controller, a nice and funny guy who offered us juicy watermelon, tea, and even beer!

Tea with the kids

An uzbek family with 3 kids was doing the same journey, and quickly adopted us for the whole trip. Nice introduction to the uzbek welcoming culture! There are no banks nor ATM’s in Uzbekistan, and our adopting mother was also a banker. She could exchange some of our dollars at a good rate, and provided us with huge amounts of notes -uzbek money takes a lot of volume!!-.

Half a kilo of Uzbek Sums

The train ride has been comfortable ; the journey in the bus a bit less. It was overcrowded, very hot, and the road was terrible for a good portion of it, as there was no asphalt. Many people got sick because of the bouncing and the heat, kids started crying while others tried to sleep on the floor. The smell was an elaborate mix of sweat and vomit ; we were therefore happy to leave the bus to spend the night outside in a Chaikhana (buses are not allowed to ride during the night here), and share shashliks with our new family and 2 french guys who were in the bus as well. The night break was short, and we rode few more hours in the morning to finally arrive in Samarkand, after nearly 3 days of commuting.

Our adoptin family – not everyone is feeling good on this picture 🙂

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