Saturday, June 2, 2012

The road to Dushanbe (not that one another one)*

Well we didn't want to be in Dushanbe until the 2 of June so we had a lazy start to the day.

First off by having a long chat over breakfast to American called Luke who was doing some central Asian research for his thesis. Nice to have a talk to a native English speaker for a change.

Once breakfast was done, change some more money and find some more fuel both involved some people running around for us and for the fuel a dash through Samarquand with a local on the back of the bike. Fuel was only 80 octane and I didn't make it back to the hotel before I needed to alter the timing map.

All loaded up finally and we were off to Korashina for the night an easy run of about 200ks. As we headed south to Shahrisabz, you cross over a mountain pass of about 1500m, at the top were some stalls selling fresh vegetables and a nice view, so we stopped for a look and to take a picture. The next moment we were surrounded, by kids selling some form of dried herbs, all sealed in nice plastic bags, mainly they looked like flower buds. I wasn't interested, but gave them some money, they handed me one of the bags, I naturally gave it back as I had no use for it. The bag was 500 som about 30 cents. I think the same bag of herbs in Australia would have been $500 and a jail sentence. All in all there was enough herbs to provide a reasonable about of money towards a house in Australia, all being sold by 10 year old kids.

We stopped a couple of times for something to drink, each time we would be surrounded by people asking where were going and what we were doing. It was great and most seemed friendly and warm. My favourite question was "Carte?" meaning map, to which I duly pointed to the GPS. Eyes lit up and big grins emerged. They all wanted to see their location on the GPS.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugAbout 4 o'clock we rolled into the, little town of Korashina and found a hotel that had English signs and a restaurant. So riding up to it we asked if we could put the bike inside the fence, once they realized we were going to stay for the night this was no problem. We unpacked had a nice shower and then enjoyed a fantastic meal, while listening to singer sing some contemporary Uzbek music, which I have to say I really liked. We were even serenaded, great night and the whole lot was $5, we insisted them taking at least $20. The staff were all really nice and the daughter of the owner spoke some English, which was all we needed. Later that night we were given a big bowl of Apricots for free and the next morning breakfast was also free. Such wonderful people. We found out the next day we were the first hotel guests there! So to you overlanders out there Real Komfort Hotel in Korashina, UZ.
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
When we set off for the day they also gave us a big bag of Apricots, which are my favourite fruit. Yum, yum.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugSo finally we were stopped at a police check point, but not to a bunch of surly officials, but rather cops with great big grins that asked the usual questions, checked our passports and sent on our way, they spotted our apricots so we shared those around (no pressure), in the end they chased us away as we were dawdling all very good natured. All the way we were waved, honked and whistled at, really nice. Next Police stop we had get the passports out get off the bike and I was motioned to the office, ok what is going on here, but in the end we sat in the shade and they just took the bike details and passport stuff. All straight forward, very friendly and quite chatty.

Sharon had been asking for some days if we stop at some markets to get a scarf and some material for a sarong. Our last big city in Uzbekistan was Denov (Denau) as we rode through town there was these huge markets. Okay I thought lets stop and have a break and Sharon can go shopping. What a great experience for the both of us. One of the stall holders offered me a seat in the shade, someone went and got a bottle of cold water for me while Sharon set off and found a lady that spoke a little English that took her around the market until she found what needed. As sat a bunch of Uzbek guys came and asked all about the bike and our trip. Really nice again I was overwhelmed by just how friendly these people were.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Even after the market we had a pile Uzbek SOM we needed to get rid of, the currency is essentially worthless outside of Uzbekistan so we stopped and gave it to a bunch of kids. They had no idea what was going on as we drove away leaving them with 30000 SOM In their hands.

So at the border we finally ran into our Uzbek that wasn't that nice. The custom guy, I don't know if it was because he didn't like his job or whatever but he was in a bad mood. But to make up for it everyone else was at the border crossing was very nice.

So finally to on to Tajikistan, the first words that was spoken to us was "Welcome to Tajikistan" how awesome was that! A bit of paperwork to fill in and we were on our way to Dushanbe. The biggest hold up was the idle chitchat we had with the customs officers and police all really nice.

A quick 20k ride saw us near our guesthouse and bit of searching by Sharon saw us greeted by a very lovely accent, an Aussie named Marion, who owed the guesthouse and also ran health programs for USAid. The guest house was fantastic a little sanctuary where we could relax and take it easy for a couple of days.

*The movie Spies Like Us refers to the Pamir Highway as "The road to Dushanbe", we were not on the Pamir Highway (yet).

No comments:

Post a Comment