Wednesday, 29 August 2018

#9 Uzbekistan

7th August

Kym Osborne and Lenore Osborne climbing the biggest minorette in Uzbekistan while Brett and I hold the fort and support the economy.
The road from Samarkand to Bukhara was 271 ks. The weather hot and riding through small villages made for slow riding. We left at around 6am to get some miles done before the heat. Arrived by midday ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘. 41 and straight into aircon to cool down. 
Spent 3 days in Bukhara wandering around the old city. (And eating๐Ÿ˜ฑ)
Bukhara to the ancient walled city of Khiva was a big day or morning as we left just after 5am. 470ks, first 70ks was rough potholes next 400 virtually smooth concrete 2 lane road riding through desert. Had a small tail wind, such a bonus ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ. Uzbekistan vehicles are all on gas so it’s very limited petrol supplies are hit and miss at the stations unless you know or have been told ahead that they have petrol. Most 80 so we use a booster in the mix. Our hotel in Bukhara bought for us a metal 10L Jerry can as my bike with small rotopax reaches 350 Range. We needed it too. 
Khiva today we had a personal guide between Lenore Kym Brett and I. Very informative and plenty of stories to be told now. 
Late dinners as very hot here. 

The next week is going to be tuff hot long riding. We shall take the luxury of our Russian 6 month visa and ride around the Caspian Sea

9th August

Bukhara and the desert beyond
Ok so the journey today was hot. We’ve all done that. Left the Kulkaldosh Boutique hotel at 7:30 and 26C that’s ok. Did the usual bike checks and thought everything is good, yep the fuels should be ok knowing that the tank gets about 500 kms tho we’ve used a bit getting here. She’ll be right, it’ll work out there will be a station somewhere..... surely!
Bukhara is a pretty amazing old city. Some say the oldest in Central Asia, on the Silk Road, but nevertheless 5000 yrs is not to be argued with. We were parked outside of the front door of Kulkaldosh a pretty nice aircon hotel some 400m from the centre. Brett & Yon were down the road so we caught up for her bday drinks and a pretty good meal next to a ancient stepped water oasis. Bukhara is known for these numerous water ponds that all were linked. It is also known for the plagues that resulted by bad water. Anyway this is one of the few water holes that survived. Here is a mulberry tree with a plaque that says it was planted in 1477? That’s some old tree. So this is where we are dining for the night. Above us in this open aired restaurant fine water jets spray us down adding humidity making the constant heat bearable. During the meal and once the sun had finally stopped baking, a fountain system that runs around the pond Italian style was turned on adding more pleasantness to the location. Beers, pizzas and sweets, oh yea and conjac cost us about $12 each seemed ok!
The hawkers are always a buzz in these ancient bazaars with their wares strewn into the streets, under archways and down alleyways. It creates a nice atmosphere. They aren’t short of pleasantries inviting us to look but are a little tiresome even tho colourful. Beautiful fabrics of Suzzanna style (needlework) carpets, clothes, knives and jewellery are all tempting. The patterns are beautiful, remarking we need to travel by vehicle next time to stock up or even tow a container. We all work overtime stopping to enjoy and absorb not only the street action but the architecture that differs in magnificence.
The walls are super thick generally arched with fired clay bricks creating g high ceilings but we are in awe of the mosaic patterns that adorn and add colour. Blue, whites and green reflect sky earth and health.
In these revered ancient cities donkeys, camels and the great unwashed herdsmen and protectors of these lands emerging from the desert are long forgotten and replaced by pleasant tho persistent hawkers. I guess it was the same way back trading to make a buck being louder or coming up with a byline ‘almost free’ or ‘we have magic carpets’. Everything is for sale here but the target is the growing number of Europeans so trinkets, carpets, Suzanners are favourites. We bought our share and we’re not even European.
Our night conseierge offers to be our guide and after he knocked
off after noon and with no sleep took the 4 of us on a walking tour. It was a midday 40C but in Bukhara? So down a lane where drink and Afghan heroine is a problem was a good start and then on to the big mosques, minnetts and history personified.
Into a small museum where the acoustics were demonstrated with a call to Allah! How do they achieve such sound manipulation some 1000s of years ago. Standing in the centre the sound echoed outward resinating whilst the deeper notes like the harmonica of the word Allah remained in the centre of the room and disappeared upwards. The curator moved outward and clapped here and there to demonstrate old tricks of architecture! Smoke and mirrors?
On to the great walled castle and museum, overload at this stage but how much can be absorbed? Still there is more. Cameras snapping to help with retention and to suck it all in. This guy, our self appointed guide, Ramses, offering his own time to show us his city gave us a greater insight than we would have found ourselves. We came away from Bukhara though a short visit with a little understanding of how life once was.
We had decided to move on as more awaits so at 7:30am off we shoot. Roads were tougher than expected with divetts, ditches potholes and whoops on the tar. With the the thought of fuel we saw a few servos along the first part as we followed the river. Here donkeys pulled small carts loaded with goods. Freshly cut grass piled high and hanging over the cart whilst families, boys and old men plied this beasts of burden on. Cars, small busses zigzagged between and around pot holes or oncoming trucks with huge free boards stacked high with sand, gravel bricks and other such stuff. Tractors of varing uses and ages also have their time on these hacked roads and so the traffic flows. People of all ages wave down passing cars who are quite willing to collect fares. So this is their life.
The road didn’t get any better until distant industry mining or power plants came into view. Poof! There was suddenly a dual cement carriageway that appeared and directed us at high speed thru the desert. Endless sand covering flat land became the vista covered with small salt bush and the occasional donkey standing with difference head hanging low to escape the heat added interest to the passing of the kms.
Speeds increased to 120 passing the odd truck and being passed by a few cars. Chevies are pretty common here, I think there is a local manufacturing plant but they still all whiz past waving and tooting.
After some 250kms the fuel guage on the bike is showing less than I would like. I was maybe a bit too confident or not so good with my calculations but now we are winging it through the 40c desert. How reminiscent of the great Aussie centre with no fuel in sight. One rise leads to the horizon and that to the next with nothing between. The guage shows we have hit reserve, the desert doesn’t care and neither does the gps or Neither shows fuel or civilisation for that matter. I got 83kms outta of the reserve tank back
home so I’m quietly hopeful. So passing under a large police checkpoint offers a little hope that civilisation is drawing closer as a Methan gas station appears but on the opposite roadside. To explain this, these duel carriageway are devided, like for 10kms without a break so to do a U turn up we went and then drove back to get the elixirs the bike desired.
A bit weird as we were passed by two cars who then cut in to get infront to the fuel station. They pulled up, stopped short and disgorged all passengers before entering the station. Kids, mums and all but the driver leapt our and waited off to the side. Also weird. I drove in, then around before asking, benzine? Each row of pumps are devided by a cement wall standing some 4’high I guess as a safety precaution. You must wait 3m back from the car that’s filling to have your turn. There is a system but that didn’t help me as there was no petrol!
I understood it was available 19, not 20 kms down the road. Or maybe 60. That’s language one never knows what is really happening! That distance would be a push. Remember I had to head off in the opposite direction I just came to do a Uie before being back on track. So off we go a little defeated knowing the choices we didn’t have. 83 kms or so the previous experience told me. Over hill, desert, dale, desert, a repeater station, desert and the road just wound on....and on. Meanwhile back at the guage the numbers had crept up and at 63kms the engine starved and the bike rolled to a stop. But like a mirage appearing a 100 metres down the road was a fuel bowser on the opposite side. We pushed the bike a bit under the watchful eye of 2 tourist disgorging from buses to have a look. Several people jumped the rails, dodging traffic to offer water and support whilst one chap joined us and took Lenore to buy fuel. I finally got to use my 2 litre container brought from home. She returned with an additional 10l and we were good to go. How muther luck honours the brave.
So running outta fuel in the middle of a desert in a fuel starved country is no biggie, just do it next to a gas station!
So in resetting the fuel consumption guage using 98 at home I
got the aforementioned 83 kms, now with using 80 octane 20% less. Now I know.
So the bikes happy, we are hot and relieved and off we went to Khiva, the rest a simple journey.

Patterns and colours of Uzbek

2 big days riding across the desert.