Almaty to Khujand

It is 6 days since we left our bubble life in Almaty already. By the time we have finished our ride for the day, cooled off, recovered from the exhausting heat and intense concentration due to potholes and locals’ driving style, then downloaded the photos, and spent hours to upload the selected photos to the blog, we have had no energy to write before going to bed not too late for our early morning start. It is a real pity we can’t record our thoughts as we ride as there are so many details we’d like to mention…

We have seen the most amazing scenery, often dramatically changing from one bend to another, from stark and majestic mountains, to lush green valleys and to desperately dry and hot desert where breathing seems to dry your lungs. And once again, we have met more wonderful, friendly and generous locals.

Here’s a silent picture drive from Almaty, to Bishkek, Toktogul, Osh, Konibodom, Khujand – for the last few days, riding through the fertile Fergana Valley and past numerous enclaves and exclaves, the result of the post Soviet break-up and local feuds. Luckily, the new M13 road allows drivers to skirt these safely.

The history in this part of the world is fascinating but too long to talk about here. Just very briefly though, where we are now in Khojund for example is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia. It was established by Cyrus the Great in the 7-6 centuries BC and Alexander the great built “Alexandria the Furthest” nearby in 329 BC. Located on the Silk Road it soon became a cultural hub. Khujand was later captured by Arab armies in the 8th century, fought Genghis Khan’s army then got destroyed in the 13th century. Then in the 19th century, it was occupied by the Russian Empire and became part of the Soviet Union in the 1920s. The result of various invasions is seen today in the ethnic mix of Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz people.

As depicted by the fabulous huge town monuments, the Ferghana valley saw cotton cultivation mandated by the Soviets and continues to this day. Seeing how dry this region is, except along the rivers, it seems like a tragic waste of precious water to grow cotton. We have seen people drinking from water channels in the streets. Riding through those valleys and along the treed villages always gave us a welcome respite from the oppressing heat – we love the sweet wafts of rotten fruit as we ride along the inumerable fruit sellers along the side of the road. How many water melons do people eat here?!!

Enjoy this 6 day ride!

Ever changing scenery

Too-Ashuu Pass, Kyrgyzstan – see where we came from at the bottom

Hello from Too-Ashuu Pass, Kyrgyzstan

Scenery from the other side of the Too-Ashuu tunnel

Time for lunch – more manty!

The beautiful Suusamyr Basin, Kyrgyzstan

The beautiful Suusamyr Basin, Kyrgyzstan

2000m high Suusamyr Basin, Kyrgyzstan

The beautiful Suusamyr Basin, Kyrgyzstan

Love the carefully painted and placed white pebbles

2000m high Suusamyr Basin, Kyrgyzstan

2000m high Suusamyr Basin, Kyrgyzstan

2000m high Suusamyr Basin, Kyrgyzstan

Good to know there is a clinic and ambulance around

How many greens are there?!

and honey, lots of honey

Back to fertile valleys

Heading down towards Toktogul

Kyrgyz man with traditional hat

Toktogul reservoir, Kyrgyzstan

Toktogul reservoir, Kyrgyzstan

Sunset over Toktogul reservoir, Kyrgyzstan

South of Toktogul resevoir, Kyrgyzstan

South of Toktogul resevoir, Kyrgyzstan

South of Toktogul resevoir, Kyrgyzstan

South of Toktogul resevoir, Kyrgyzstan

South of Toktogul resevoir, Kyrgyzstan

Naryn River, south of Kara-Kul, Kyrgyzstan

Naryn River, south of Kara-Kul, Kyrgyzstan

Naryn River, south of Kara-Kul, Kyrgyzstan

Coming into Uzgen – those colours made me wish I could paint

We skirted around numerous enclaves, the result of post Soviet breakup and new borders – see fences in the distance

Town or region monuments

Soviet monument outside Almaty

Jalalabad town

Entering Batken, Kyrgyzstan

Mosaics

Entering Osh – look at that mosaic!


Fabulous Soviet monument, Isfara

Konibodom

Welcome mosaic – Khujand, Tajikistam

Safe travels mosaic – Khujand, Tajikistam

Ismoil Somoni monument – Tajikistan currency is named after him

Part of Ismoil Somoni monument, acknowledging his ancestors’ Zoroastrianism

Driving style

Typical driving – expect to move over

Move over for the Merc in a hurry

Typical driving

Typical driving

Typical driving

Osh

They love stretched limos in this part of the world

That’s a metallic car!!

Beautiful and delicious local bread, Osh market

Kids cannot resist playing with water, Osh park

A Yak 40 plane in the Osh park!

Anthony finally tried some local cheese in Osh – he did not finish it…

Lively local park, Osh, Kyrgyzstan

Museum Sulaiman Too, Osh, Kyrgyzstan

Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain – Unesco listed – and Museum, Osh, Kyrgyzstan

People and what travelling is all about

Random kindness – they got us a bottle of cold water as we were leaving this restaurant

We get so many waves and beaming smiles as we ride by


Buying some dates in Osh market, Kyrgyzstan

Met Laura and Toby on the road, looking for a restaurant – funnily they were going to the same hotel as us in Osh

A common occurence whenever we stop


A special time after stopping here:

I turned back to photograph this stunning mosaic…

and got invited into Nenuphar’s garden

Nenuphar picked 2kgs of nectarines for us which we could not refuse as we did the cheese

Little Aziza enjoying her new pencils

Next stop, Dushanbe – see you on the other side!! By the way, we are going with Plan B as we did not get our Turkmen visa so cannot return to Iran this time.

– Anne

13 comments on “Almaty to Khujand

  1. Beautiful mosaics and surreal landscape . That bread looks like a work of art- difficult to eat something so beautiful . Take care . SO lovely to hear from you. xxxxx

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  2. Oh! those beautiful furnished skies! And, as always, equally beautiful people. will you have to ask Father Christmas for a new address book – in addition to crayons/paints? xx

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    • I always think of you when we see these beautiful furnished skies!! It isnhard sometimes to say goodbye to wonderful people we will most likely never see again and cannot stay in touch with. But I think we all leave a little bit of each other in each other making us all richer for those encounters. Xxx

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  3. Some amazing photos and stories there. And yes that bread looks scrumptious (& artfully beautiful) Love the caravan – need to keep GReg away from that x

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  4. The beauty scenery and those beautiful meandering roads are tempting but the drivers put me off. Do they have a driving test or is driving an automatic right ? As usual you managed to encounter friendly people. Keep it up.
    Keep safe and throttle on.

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    • The drivers are not so bad once you understand the driving style. In fact I think everyone should come to this part of the world to experience and appreciate the tolerance here – it seems mad, but it actually works (most times).

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