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Glad We Didn’t Ride the Uzbek Desert

If there were any doubts about our choice not to ride from Bukhara, Uzbekistan to Aktau, Kazakhstan they have now been quelled after I just read Leon’s blog.

Leon rode with us from Osh, Kyrgyzstan to Bukhara Kazakhstan and decided there to continue through the seering heat.

Here is his latest entry which is well worth the read:

After not a bad nights sleep, considering, I was packed up and on the road by six. Today, what had been crosswind, became a headwind of increasing severity as the day progressed. It took six hours on the bike to do 70kms.

It was a little frustrating and I really envied Jared and the gangs train journey – although I suspect that was fraught with its own hassels. Anyway, ‘resting’ (it was over 40c with no shade) at the side of the road, thoroughly dejected, a lorry stopped and the driver’s mate asked “You have a problem?” Rather than being the verbal precursor to unarmed combat that it would be in sunny England, the guy was actually genuinely inquiring if I needed any help. I was touched. I assured him I was okay, and this positive little episode gave the inspiration to continue riding ponderously into the wind.

There was nothing to see other than desert. A couple of times I passed a lone guy sitting at the side of the road. They made a noise and indicated for me to stop, but I wasn’t tempted. They always looked rather dodgy and I had trouble imagining where they came from and what the hell they were doing in the middle of nowhere. I mean, there was nothing as far as the eye could see. I just waved and carried on. With water and energy running low, plus no shelter in sight, I had my own problems and absolutley no desire to engage in the same conversation I’ve had a million times before:

Them: “Kouda” (where from?)
Me: “Anglia” (England)
Them: “India?” (India?)
Me: “Niet. F*****g ENGLAND!” (swearing only started after the 350,000th time)
Them: “Oh, Anglia”
Me: “Da”
Them: “Beckham, Rooney, Man United” (various names related to English football)
Me: Eyes glaze over, make my excuses and leave.

When a chaikhana eventually appeared it was like a mirage, hovering on the horizon but never getting any closer. The most frustrating thing was not knowing whether it was a chaikhana or just a derelict building that would offer no refreshment. Thankfully it was and I could get the coke (a-cola) injection I’d been craving. I then vegetated for a couple of hours waiting for the accursed sun to sink. The people at the Chaikhana were very good and honest. Whilst comfort had gone out of the window since leaving Burkara, good old Uzbek honesty was back on the cards, with the rip-off merchants staying at the tourist hot-spots.

Leaving the place I passed a police checkpoint, and as usual the police were incredibly friendly and genial. I have heard so many horror stories about the police here, but have personally found them to be nothing but gentlemen – certainly a cut above the constabularies of Kyrgyza and Kazahkstan.

Hoping for a decrease in wind as night fell, I was sorely disappointed. In fact, it got worse, and was like riding into two industrial strength fans pumping hot air in my face. After an hour or so I gave up on night riding and went to camp in the desert. This time, my broken door allowed a million mosquitos to make their home in my tent. Too hot to wear a sleeping bag, or any clothes in excess of underwear, I was deprived sleep whilst being eaten alive instead.

Source :

To read more about Leons adventures see his blog Go West

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