Uzbekistan in Summer 2015

In a previous post I’ve already posted some of the images of my bike tour through Central Asia in summer 2015 – but I realised, I have too many images for just one post. So, look there for the images of Kyrgystan – and see below for my collection from Uzbekistan in October 2015.

From landscape, dessert and people to the amazing cities of Bukhara and Samarkand.

The people of Uzbekistan

Once I crossed the border from Kyrgystan into Uzbekistan the landscape changed drastically. In the east of Uzbekistan I crossed the Fergana Valley, which actually is a plateau in the mountains, which you can only assume in the distance.

 

20151006_CentralAsia_12The valley is densely populated and used in intensive agriculture. Seemingly mostly cotton and water melon production – the latter really quite delicious. Due to the density of agriculture it was often difficult to find good suitable camp sites, but the people were incredibly welcoming and hospitable.

Almost automatically the focus of my bike tour shifted from the beautiful harsh landscape to enjoying the people, their homes, hospitality and the little villages and markets.

Landscape and Traffic

Oh – the landscape, in particular further west was most amazing again, from small villages to dessert-like landscapes – I loved it. Here is a small collection of images from this part of the tour.

The cities

Samarkand and Bukhara – the two former metropoles on the Silk Road

Thanks for reading!

Central Asia in Summer 2015

At first 2 admissions: It wasn’t really summer, but I neither could I leave earlier nor could I convince myself to rename the trip to “Central Asia much too late in 2015“.

20151018_CentralAsia_26Central Asia is correct, but implies more. It is true, that I cycled for one month in Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan, two countries of Central Asia – but being there, seeing the vastness of the landscape – and meeting other cycle travellers – you realise quickly how big this region and how proportionally short the stretch is, that you cycle in a month.

The Central Stans, former Soviet Unions, span across 2500 kilometers in the dead center of Asia, from the western borders of Turkmenistan at the shore of the Kaspian Sea to the eastern mountains in Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and Tadjikistan, bordering on China and the Himalayas. Map_of_Central_Asia
Their prominent position in the center of Asia, between the sea and the mountains, explain why they once have been so important hubs on the Silk Road, connecting Europe to the Far East – and vice versa. In turns this explains Central Asia’s attraction to the many cycle tourists – it being almost the only path that takes you overland across the whole continent, where other routes are hindered due to border conflicts and regions of unrest.

Instead of the long haul across continents, in October 2015 20151001_CentralAsia_2I went “just” for a 4 weeks trip, starting in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgystan, making my way through the mountains towards the deserts of Uzbekistan, the former “Silk road metropoles” Samarqand, Bukhara and ultimately its capital Tashkent.

 

Bishkek20150928_CentralAsia_1

In Bishkek I had asked for a visa to Tadjikistan – with all the paperwork etc – but the embassy seemed unable to find the relevant stickers – and I wasn’t willing to wait another 5 days for them to rummage through their drawers. So, I left without the sticker – and without the permission to travel the Pamir Highway in Tadjikistan.

In the short run this led to quite some frustration, whereas later in the mountains I was actually a little relieved not having to pass an additional 1000 meters of elevation.

The mountains of Kyrgystan

The tour started cold in the Kyrgys mountains – cold, but amazingly beautiful.

nomadic summer settlement
nomadic summer settlement

I enjoyed the mountains, even if I sometimes was cold – or had to dress in 6 layers to make it safely downhill again. However much I missed going through the Pamir, I was in a way also relieved, that I didn’t have to climb another 1000 meters and battle stronger snow storms.

After a couple of days in the mountains, I crossed a hilarious border crossing into the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan. Find the pictures in the next blog post here: Uzbekistan in Summer 2015.

Myanmar North-East

In a previous post I briefly described my short project with Arche Nova in Myanmar. As part of the project I also visited the Northern States Shan and Kachin and spent some time in Myitkina and Taungyyi.

Here are a few more pictures, taken on this work trip, in between meetings, when visiting local markets, in Yangon and elsewhere.