Bukhara is a fairly compact town with a maze of back streets for getting lost in and an ample supply of UNESCO acclaimed restored buildings. At night the main pedestrian street comes alive with kids driving small electric cars, locals walking up and down and old ladies selling various trinkets. It was a nice atmosphere and a perfect place to unwind for a few days in the company of some other Europeans.
It also seems to be one of the meeting points of the cycling touring community. Dan from the UK grew up 20km from myself and has cycled here from Manchester. His ongoing route looks very similar to mine, so we will no doubt meet on the road again. (He left Bukhara a day before me) Ritzo from Holland is also heading to the Pamirs.
The days here were also relatively cool due to some whispy clouds covering the sky. Apparently the temperatures in Uzbekistan are regularly fudged in the summer as the government has to pay workers more when it hits 40C. There are therefore many days where the mercury peaks at 39C!
From Bukhara it is around 270km on to Samarkand. The countryside is relatively monotonous and flat, but the cycling here is never dull. The locals shout repeatedly ‘hello’ and deeper conversations then go onto ‘hat kuda’ meaning ‘where are you from’. Having got bored with the standard ‘anglia’, I researched a few other countries in my dictionary and then used these for variety. Bus stops here are a welcome retreat. They mostly offer good shade and a chance to cool down, relax and snack on whatever may be found in your panniers.
Vehicle maintenance Uzbekistan style:
After an overnight in Navoiy, I arrived early evening to Samarkand and Bahodir hostel to catch old friends and meet new friends. The staff in the hotel in Navoiy had served me a huge breakfast at 4:30 am which had set me up well for dealing with another day of headwinds. The shady courtyard of Bahodir was full of bikes and new guests are offered watermelon, wafers and tea – just what was needed after over 12 hours on the road.