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
Town or region monuments
People and what travelling is all about
A special time after stopping here:
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.