Hi All,

Marc here, I safely made it after a rough trip from Samarkand to Dushanbe. So what happened since the last update?

First of all I got sick again (Giardiasis was playing up) but I staid at the small farm of Abdulaziz and his wife Nilrifar and after some nourishing shorpa, black grapes and Lauchai (thee with LOTS of sugar) they got me up my feet again in no time. Thanks for the hospitality :-) The next day I visited a wedding with my host and had a great time there. Sadly he next day it was time to say goodbye as Tajikistan was calling me.

Tajikistan, what can I say about it? First of all it is a vertical country with beautiful high mountains and steep gorges. And then there are the Tajik “roads” and they are the most awful, most disgusting, absolutely the WORST dirt ‘tracks’ I have EVER encountered. Flooded, sandy, bare rocks, earth slides, deep holes, small patches of asphalt with loose stones, you name it, they have it. To call them roads is to much, basically they are just gravel tracks with big holes with sometimes a lonesome piece of ancient soviet asphalt. To reach Dushanbe I had to cycle on these ‘roads’ and climb around 2000m to the top of the 3378m high Anzob pass, the main aim of my first days in Tajikistan. Because of this it took me 4 days to reach Dushanbe. Despite the steep serpentine climb and the very rough downhill (washboard all the way to Dushanbe, my poor butt) the ride was fantastic through deep gorges and high alpine like landscapes. You want the real stuff? Forget the alps and come to Tajikistan :-) Your butt will hurt a lot but the scenery and the people are just fantastic!

Now I am recovering at Goulya’s and Claire’s place and organising a lot of stuff before I leave in 1 or 2 days for the Pamir. Yesterday I had my last wisdom thooth pulled as it was rotten(they somehow had ‘forgotten’ to pull it the Netherlands) and it was quite different than in Europe. Here you go to a clinic with rows and rows of dentist chairs and on the beat of some Russian techno music they pull it out in no time. Costs: 55 somoni (around 20$). Furthermore I organised my Kirghiz visa and after a loooong search I finally located the embassy in a small back alley. It is located at 38 36.022N 068 46.989E. Can anybody tell me why they always hide all the the embassies in small alleys and such?

I also received my parcel with electronics from germany and one parcel for Toon (I will send it to Kashgar) and after installing all the electronics I can now charge all my batteries while cycling :-) 12V legpower is enough to charge 4 batteries in around 4 hour. Thank you Wolf!

I plan to leave tomorrow or the day after and will head for the Pamir. I will have to cross some mean passes (4000m+) but the road is supposed to be ‘good” although in some areas rather remote. I thus will do some shopping and by lots of cookies, rice, potatopowder, pasta and whatnot as stores are going to be scarce (around every 100km).
I will thus be without internet until the 1st or 2nd week of September when I hope to reach Kashgar so in the meantime enjoy the pictures of beautiful Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. 

Cycle the world,

Seperate ways

Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Salam Aleikum all, Marc here :-)

Just a quick message to let all of you know that Toon is continuing with Bal to Kyrgistan and not with me to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. This is mainly due to the speed differences between Toon and me as Toon had to wait for me multiple times a day and wanted to cycle more and we thus both cycled alone most of the time.  I see cycling as a way to get in touch with the locals, Toon sees it more a a sportive achievement, I believe. Furthermore I like to take my time to take pictures and our personal interests are quite different so this is probably the best way for both of us. Anyway, we will most likely meet again in Kashgar, China and perhaps we will cycle together throught Tibet, who knows. I wish both Toon and Bal lots of tailwind, smooth asphalt and no flat tires :-)

I will continue posting messages and pictures here on the site. If Toon is going to do the same I do not know.

OK, back to business,

The open air museum called Bukhara was a great place to recover and after a sad goodbye to beautiful Bukhara I cycled in three days to Samarkand, the heart of Central asia. The bumpy asphalt  and the Uzbek heat, headwinds and humity of the river valleys made it more difficult than expected but it was nice to cycle through the cottonfeelds and orchards alone agian. Samarkant is great place to hang out, espcially on the Registan and shopping in the bazar is great fun (altough expensive, ‘tourist prices’). I have my own apartment next to the Registan for only 10$ a night with has a fridge, bath and a kitchen, total VIP-luxury after 3 days of camping. Just ask for Aschur at the Registan and he will arrange it for you. He can host upto four travellers.

The day after tomorrow I’m off to Tashkent (by bus) to arrange the visum for China so fingers crossed. If time permits I will update the website before my departure to Dushanbe, if not, see you in Tajikistan :-)


Sea and Sand

Hi all! Sorry for the loooong silence but in Mashad the internet was too slow and in Turkmenistan we were in the middle of the Karakum desert, not a good place for an update :-)

So what did we do since the last update? First of all we flew to Shiraz to visit Persepolis, the old government town of ancient Persia ruled by Xerxes and his sons which was sadly destroyed by Alexander the Great (accidently or as a revenge for the destruction of Athenes by the Persian). Furtunately, enough remains to get an idea of the splendour of this ancient city and it was certainly one of the highlights of our visit to Iran.

Our next stop was the student city Isfahan, the intellectial city of Iran since hundreds of years and we spend a few splendid days walking on the Ghomeiny place, visiting the beautifull mosques and palaces and enjoying evening chai at one of the many bridges crossing the river. It is defenitely the most relaxed and beautiful town we visited during our stay in Iran. Toon organised his visa extention here and got one extra month without any problem the same day. However, they only issue extentions when you visa will expire within 3 days. The office can be found at 32 37.79N 051 37.945E.

After some last great days in Tehran (thanks again Adri and Elhan!) we headed over the mountains for the humid Kaspian sea. The landscape turned from arid into a beautifully tropical green but it was but very, very, VERY humid and rainy and cold at times. In case you don’t believe it just listen to some authentic Iranian rain!
Nevertheless it was a great experience to cycle through the dense tropical forests and ricefields, a huge contrast to the barren wastelands at the other side of the mountains. Swimming in the Kaspian see isn’t bad either alltough it is very hard to reach because of the many hotels and the industy. Marc recorded the new age sound of the Caspian so take a mochito, sit back and relax.

In Gorgan marc organised his visa extention and it was no problem at all. The office is quite hidden at 36 50.491N 054 26.660E. Upon leaving the town Toon had a road accident with a Paikan driven by some young guys trying to take pictures so he had to go to hospital for treatment. The downside of being famous.

Next followed a wild rush up throuh the dense humid forests to the the dessert planes to Mashad, the holiest city of the Shiites (after Mecka). Because of the constant dry headwinds it was a though trip but camping and shopping was made easy by Ali, an Iranian wandering cyclist. All Ali owns is his bicycle and he lives from what the people give him (untill his “rich” father dies). Not an easy way of living but he gets away with it :-) In Mashad we staid in a small family run pension with our carpet selling host Vali and we explored the city and surroundings. We had a great time at his palce and it can be found at 36 16.940N 059 35.747E.

We then set of for one of the hardest parts of the trip sofar, the crossing of the Karakum desert. Temperatures reached around 45 degrees so we got up before sunrise and took a long siesta at noon and started cycling again in the afternoon. Water was available everywhere but of dubious quality coming from wells or canals. But when you cross a desert you cannot be to picky however with the result that marc ended up with some nasty diarea. It knocked him of the bike in the middle of the Karakum, not a good place because you dehydrate really quickly in the desert, and that it was he did despite ORS solution. He had to recover for one day in a small dessert village before being able to cycle to the Uzbek border. The Uzbek border crossing (39 13.709N 063 42.942) was hassle free but for marc cycling was not. He fell ill again and the last 45km to Buchara he had to take a taxi and he is now recovering behind the keybord writing this blog :-) The next days we will visit beautiful Buchara and then head for Samarkant and Tajikstan and the next update will thus be from Dushanbe in Tajikistan. In the meantime enjoy the pictures and the recordings from Iran, Turkemenistan and Uzbekistan!

Marc and Toon