Where The Silk Road Lies

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7 September 2015 by Justine


Cycling in Uzbekistan – May and June 2013

Uzbekistan. Mysterious country where women beauty rimes with golden teeth and uni-brow make-up, and where wallets are twice as big but can only contain enough money bills to buy yourself lunch. When compared to his neighbor Tajikistan, Uzbekistan is as green as a golf court although its desert is getting bigger every day, drinking up Aral sea’s last drops. Uzbekistan is also known for its gigantic domes. Blue under day light, they shine like gold on sun set. They survived centuries, wars and invasions, and reminds us that this is where the Silk Road lies, joining Europe to Asia.

Tourists follow the imaginary line drawn between minarets and mosques by their touristic books and guides. Global news make the « stans » rime with terrorism, putting Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirghistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on the same boat. It’s hard not to pay attention to this political gamic while preparing a trip in ex Soviet Union countries. While western countries slander less known parts of the world, us, vagabonds on the way, have been received by those people like if we were king and queen. We have been received like no where else during our two years on the road. We have been received like we probably will never be received in any western country.

For now on, Uzbekistan stands out for the noisy markets, perfumed melons and piles of dried fruits and nuts. For the moist of sweat and the taste of dust, for the vision of flat breads as big as coffee tables, samsa bread stands, kefir bowls and Russian candies. It now stands out for a ceremonious salutation, the hand on the heart, followed by an invitation for a cup of chai tea. But also, it is for us the entrance of the Pamir Highway, our starting point for more than fifteen hundred kilometers of isolation, on a road more than 3 000 meter higher than sea level, also known as the World’s rooftops.

Next stop : Tajikistan !

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