Our muscles were sore and shoulders were tight and we vowed never to ride roads like the one from Shetpe to Beyneu again sitting down. After a little practice we blitzed the dirt road between Bayneu and the Uzbek border standing the whole way (about 75km) with trucks blaring their horns in approval as we passed.
At the border there was a queue of trucks 200 metres long but we skipped all that and went straight to the front. The process was relatively straighforward (in an eastern europe sense) but we had to wait until 1 o'clock for them to get internet to register the bikes details
In Beyneu we met a Russian guy hitchhiking through the 'stans and he acted as translator for us and helped the process along.
Once through the border there are ladies converting dollars or tenge (Kazakh) to Som so we changed a very small amount over because it was unlikely we would be finding an ATM before we needed fuel.
With three quarters of a tank left and 9 litres in the dromaderry bladder we set off. I was expecting the worst, but as 10km's of paved road became 300 we welcomed the break in the 40 degree heat. So flat in every direction you could see the curvature of the earth
When we stopped a car pulled in beside us and asked if we were ok.
It's a long way between fuel stops and lucky we carried spare fuel because as we pulled into the first town in 400km the fuel light came on. It was getting late and we wanted to stop the night and as we got off the bike and shook off the dust we could smell the shishlek on the bbq and thought this is fantastic...only to be told they had no accommodation and no fuel
It was 100km to the next town and we wouldn't make it without fuel so we had to perservere and eventually they called a guy to come open up the only petrol bowser in town. No idea what octane it was but it was petrol, and we used what little som we had with us.
Every now and again the desert would stop and there would be lush greenery
I've never seen an islamic cemetery before and was impressed at how ornate it looked.
We rolled into Nukus using our last dregs of petrol from the stove and trolled the streets looking for a bank or hotel and could find neither. After awhile someone that could speak english said that in the Republic of Uzbekistan there are no atm's (cash points) and you must go to a bank.
Next day we went to the bank and they gave us US$ instead of Som - "what do we do with this? We need Som" So he called another guy to come change the USD to Som, but luckily a dutch guy intervened and said to go to the black market where we could get a better exchange rate. The banks were offering 2000 to 1 exchange, the black market was doing 2700 to 1 and the official exchange is 2200 to 1 - go figure. We changed the money from a guy selling washing machines.
Glamming up the building with abseiling painters
Petrol is scarce (very scarce) in Western Uzbek and noone in Nukus seemed to know where we could find petrol. Eventually we spotted a guy on a motorbike who took us to his house and filled the tank from a 5l jug. He claimed it was 91 but who knows , it looked clean so what the hell.
And gave us tea
Hurricane proof ceiling
A random plane in the desert
A local stopped on the side of the road then lead us to his local restaurant and for £4 we were stuffed
New gas pipelines going in
Roadworks along the Tajikistan border.
Every night you're supposed to register at a hotel or guest house so the government can monitor you but it's just too far between Nukus and Bukhara so we threw caution to the wind and camped in the desert. A big thing about this trip was the camping so we'll worry about the authorities later. There are military check points every couple of hundred k's and they really slow progress. Some you can drive through, some take details and some just want to look at the bike. After awhile they become a nuisance.
The worst the road got, and this was only a very small section of an otherwise good road network in Uzbekistan.
Just before Bukhara we ran into three indian guys on enfields travelling the opposite direction.
One was a 1995 Enfield and between them they were carrying 40kg's of spares.
The queue for petrol
Coming into Bukhara it felt as though the clutch was slipping a little, like it was struggling to engage and take off in 1st gear. I think it's somehow linked to the stalling problem I've been having so as a precaution I've ordered new plates. I can't risk it failing on BAM or Road of Bones.
Bukhara is a pretty city, but feels fake, as though everything has been set up and laid out for us personally. There were very few tourists possibly because of the heat so it was nice to be in a pretty city but without the tourists that normally accompany such a city.
We decided not to take the road most travelled directly between Bukhara and Samarkand and instead went north in a loop that we were told would take us into the mountains, just to mix it up a bit.
Some mountains to break up the flat landscape
We stayed the night in a guesthouse in the mountains
It's not a TKC or K60 so I left it there
Petrol with 80 octane has become the norm and the tiger is running completely fine with it. Mileage has dropped as expected but not significantly.
Just outside Samarkand we were stopped the third time this trip for speeding. Twice in Turkey the coppers just asked where we were from and let us go, and surprisingly the Uzbek copper after realizing we couldn't speak Russian just let us go as well.
Samarkand is also a pretty place, but in my opinion not as nice as Bukhara. More people, but big wide open streets and traffic that flows smoothly.
Pot hole of doom
Samarkand was the first city that the attention Patty received was a little overwhelming for her and for me. In the towns it's in small doses where people would ask for a photo or ask where she's from but in the city all eyes were focussed on her because she must be the only black person in the whole city. She just wanted to walk by unnoticed but once people saw her the whispers would start and some would giggle, others wanted a photo just to be seen with a black person and treated her rudely. The experience was a little upsetting for her and she wanted to end the trip here thinking it would only get worse.
After Samarkand we rode up the corridor between Tajikistan and Kazakhstan going to Kyrgyzstan. This is the only photo the now bloody annoying military / police would let me get, looking in the direction we just came from. The military were more thorough (annoying) in these parts.
Further along and away from military eyes
As the sun set we pulled into Kokand for our final night in Uzbekistan.
People in these parts were much more friendlier to Patty and it convinced her to stay. This lady made us fresh bread straight from the oven
Take this guy with us to BAM and he can build us a bridge
Next up Kyrgyzstan.