It is hard leaving a place where you feel comfortable en where you are understood by others. So leaving Samarqand was difficult and this was not made easier by a stomach bug that was traveling around. We were cycling south with mixed emotions because it was hard to say goodbye but we were also looking very much forward to enter the next country Tajikistan. Luckily Uzbekistan gave us a final treat with nice scenery and some mountainous surroundings.
You can find our photo’s here: UZ to TJ a road of mixed people
We have cycled for 6 days of which 5 in Uzbekistan and 1 in Tajikistan. On the day of departure the plan was to leave at around the same time as Brice and Marion and Nico and Anna. Brice and Marion were taking the train to Tashkent and Nico and Anna were going the same way as us on their bicycle trikes. Anna and Nico were not feeling well on the morning of departure. So we left early, not knowing if they would be following or not.
Cycling out of Samarqand it was up straight away. We have not had many mountains for quite a while so we needed to get back into the rhythm and not be too stressed by the heat. It was a tough day, also because we were not feeling well. We camped just on the other side of the pass, which went up to around 1700 meters.
The following day there was still no Nico and Anna. We cycled on, going up and down and up. The scenery was getting nicer, fresh water was flowing and we were having a good time although Martin was not feeling at his best yet. After another night of camping and half day of cycling suddenly we heard a beep and a shout. Nico and Anna came by in a car with a trailer with their bikes. Apparently they had camped 5 km from us on the first night, but they broke their frame on the 2nd day. They were still not feeling well so taking a ride almost to the border where we would meet again.
Knowing that they were okay we pushed on past army checkpoints, over two more mountain passes and passed many friendly people. The faces have been the best in Uzbekistan until now and we have had people giving us fruit and snacks which we hadn’t had before here. Uzbekistan has people everywhere so some things are difficult to do unnoticed such as camping and going to the toilet. Luckily we managed and we found some nice spots.
On the last day in Uzbekistan we cycled through Denau, had some tea and some fried potato snacks which we were not allowed to pay for and waited outside of the city to reach the area before the border as late as possible. We camped 3 km from the border in a quiet apple orchard. Looks can sometimes be deceiving because when we had just finished our dinner and started to get ready for bed music started and there was a wedding party in the village until late. So our rest was not so good.
Finally we were at the border. The Uzbek side was easy, just taking our bags through the scanner. Susanne got searched and asked if we had medicine, were married and if we had kids. Martin was asked if we had guns, weapons or drugs and after declining we were good to go and get our exit stamp. No questions about hotel registrations, no checking of our digital equipment and no checking of our money. On the Tajik side we met an international touring group who were surprised that we were cycling up the steep hills, yes we really are! We got our entry stamp, got a nod at customs control, changed our Som into Somani and we were in Tajikistan. How easy! We had planned to meet the Trikes at the border but it all went so fast that we were through before we knew it. We waited half an hour and then they were also there. Together we cycled the 70 kilometers to Dushanbe.
In Dushanbe the proces for the GBAO permit was put into action. We now have our permit and can cycle the Pamir! Also some extra stress was added because a package did not arrive with an essential new sleeping mat. Luckily we went to asked around again today and the package was there after all, yay! We are staying with a lovely Warmshower host Veronique. We only saw her one evening because regretfully she is on a business trip. Her house is a cyclists haven and a really nice place to relax and enjoy food from the oven. Good place to get ready and feed up for the Pamir. It is going to be a very special experience!