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Link to interactive route map for Uzbekistan here.

Exactly a week after arriving back to our home in Tashkent, we rolled out of the front gate, never to return. We had rested fairly well, making sure that everything was in order to go off and wander the world for a few years. Receiving the call to confirm that our Chinese Visas were ready was such a relief. Getting our passports back with them inside was as exciting moment. We now had everything we needed to begin the adventure. Or, more accurately, to quote the badly structured slogan of a shop in Tashkent’s Next Shopping Mall- “Everything what you need.” This is fast becoming a mantra of our journey.

I am writing from the warmth and comfort of an apartment in the dismal town of Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan. We have just finished a 4-day, 3-night ride over mountain ranges including the Kaldama pass (3062 metres) from Jalal-abad. Not even a shop or petrol station in sight, just the wild, it was great.

We are now two weeks into our easterly ride and our distance covered is good, so is our spending. However, we must be some of the few westerners who were shocked to discover that Kyrgyzstan is expensive (in comparison to expat life in Uzbekistan). That said, things are still ludicrously cheap when we do ‘splash-out’ on a hotel or restaurant meal. Not that we have much to spend money on anyway with our accommodation on our rear bike rack and meals on our front.

I did not feel much emotion as I left Uzbekistan, 4 years was enough and I had been ready to leave for over a year. So I think if I did feel anything, it was a release that the trappings of working life (and the luxuries that came with it) were to be only a memory and a new chapter was starting. Of course I will miss some of the people we got to know and who became friends, but we are lucky enough to live in a time when we can stay in touch through technology and I know that if we care both ways, we will.

Back to the present and I can already feel the beginnings of a rhythm coming, especially over this last week. We’ve been finding places to camp, collecting water to filter and using our stove a few times each day. It's a great feeling being self-sufficient. I’ve had times in the past when I toured on my own when I would feel comfortable enough to push myself physically for a prolonged amount of time, but this is something different to that, it seems that this is more of a sustainable lifestyle and Niamh is taking it in her stride.

Once again, the reaction people have to us pedalling by is wonderful- from shock and awe to confusion and downright disapproval. So many people ask us if we need a lift, and when we say “No thanks”, some simply do not get why we would want to cycle over a mountain, or in the rain when a car is better if you can afford it. It’s a good point to be fair, still not entirely sure why I am obsessed with this around the world bicycle thing, but I hope to understand myself in due course.

Other people we pass whistle at us, I think encouragingly although it might be just so they get our attention. Others run to us in the road and shape for high-fives, which I am terrible at anyway, but can be downright painful for both parties from a bicycle. Others beep loudly from their vehicles as they approach (reason unknown in most cases). Others demand photo’s, which if we conceded to all would mean that we would still be in Uzbekistan. Others (smaller humans mainly) throw stones, attempt to stop us in our tracks or stick branches in our spokes. These last few have not happened to me yet on this tour, but they did regularly in Turkey. I just put on my teacher voice, which stirs said small humans parent(s) who are disgusted by their child’s behaviour and come running roadside to discipline. I am not sure where this behaviour comes from. I can't imagine doing it (and surviving) in England. All part of the experience I guess.

We are having a rest day tomorrow, then continuing east as ever, this time toward Song-Kul lake (3104 metres). We hope to be there in time for Niamh’s birthday on the 28th as we have heard that there are Horse-Games taking place. This is one thing we regret not seeing in Uzbekistan. Polo with a goat carcass as a ball….don’t mind if we do.

Link to interactive route map for Uzbekistan here.

#uzbekistan #kyrgyzstan #bicycletouring #biketour

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