11.09.09 - Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
After the meagre time in the Pamirs we planned to live on a bit of luxury once we had reached Osh, the first big city in Kyrgyzstan. And we certainly did! We stayed at the De Luxe and dined in restaurants with intriguing names like The Rich Men CafĂ©, enjoyed the wide selection of goods in the supermarkets (wine!) and treated ourselves to a nice break of a few days. After that we continued along the Susamir valley and further on by horseback trek up to lake Song KĂ¶l. Time to let our cycling calves dangling but climbing on a horse back over the high passes instead. We enjoyed galopping over the Jaloos (alpine pastures) and sleeping in nomads yurts. Brilliant!
Along Issyk KĂ¶l lake the weather turned autumnal. While experiencing four seasons within a couple of hours in the mountains, we could now feel the change of weather which brought down the boundary of snowfall significantly. Nice to look at but cycling in the rain is not really our thing... In Bishkek, situated thousand meter lower, we are now completing and reparing our gear â€“ as it seems that everything is getting on in years. Broken rim, breaks which are leaking, sleeping bags which do not really insulate anymore, a tent bottom sheet which is as waterproofed as a coffeefilter etc.
Well, even if we will not be able to replace or fix everything we will nevertheless soon leave for the Middle Kingdom â€“ which also seems to have been carried out piecemeal... Which route we will be following is still not certain. The Chinese Empire, with all its damned restrictions is giving us big headeaches since a long time!
15.08.09 - Murgab, Tajikistan
Just a quick note via satellite from Murgab (3â€™612m ASL), in the middle of the Pamirs.
Since we crossed the border into Tajikistan, we are totally enchanted by this country. It has easily earned its place within our personal top-10 with its warm-hearted people and the impressive landscape.
Since a few days we are riding on the M41, the so called Pamir Highway. The mountain scenery on the high plateau is absolutely breathtaking. A crystal clear deep blue sky above the snow capped mountain peaks makes cycling a great pleasure and a delight for the eye. The nights in the middle of nowhere are bitterly cold in our tent and we finally get to wear our winter clothes again. Glancing up to the amazing starry sky is simply dreamlike!
In just a few days we will be in Kyrgyzstan where we might take a short break from cycling to rest our calves and work out our further travels. Thanks to the Chinese government we can forget about our planned route through Tibet. Well, weâ€™ll see where weâ€™ll end up...
24.07.09 - Samarqand, Uzbekistan
We only got to taste the first cold beer in Uzbekistan. And after that we laid flat in bed for a couple of days â€“ not due to the alcohol but thanks to diarrhoe. It seems that we brought along some â€śbug-souveniersâ€ť from the homestay we stayed with for a couple of days.
Crossing Turkmenistan wasnâ€™t as fierce as we expected it to be. Besides the teeny tiny fact that we took the wrong turn (and only noticed it after 150km!) But what were we worried about, we were blessed with plenty of time to cross a whole country on a 5-days transit visa ;-) Now, we are in Uzbekistan. And while we moved back and forth between bed and toilet in Bukhara, we are now exploring Samarqand, the ancient oasis on the Silk Road.
In two, three days we will be crossing into Tajikistan. We are very looking forward to finally seeing some mountains and moreover, to find a fresh breeze too â€“ jololodiuh!
01.07.09 - Kashan, Iran
The second part of our journey through Iran has been tainted by the elections of the president, respectively by its outcome. The rage and frustration about the result and the corrupt government has been discharged in demonstrations and unrest all over the country, especially in Tehran. In contrary to the reports of the media all over the world (of which we did not get to hear/read anything thanks to the censorship) there was neither chaos nor any state of emergeny in the country. It was no problem to travel easily and safely to any destination in Iran, provided you avoided the red-hot (and well known) spots.
We gradually pedalled our way northward and in order to complete our visa collection for Central Asia and China we took repeatedly nightbuses for short trips to the embassies in Tehran. And what a joy! The Turkmen showed mercy - respectively it seemed that our charm convinced the highly unfriendly consul of the fact that we do not represent any security risk to his country. We are now looking forward to a few days of cycling in the Karakum. Though, our travel guide says: â€śOnly the absolutely unfortunate and the totally insane travel through Turkmenistan during July/August.â€ť. Well, we may be the latter at the very most but one thing is sure: After the border crossing there is not only unbearable heat awaiting us but also the first cool beer since months! Isnâ€™t that a great perspective? ;-)
10.06.09 - Yazd, Iran
Itâ€™s been over three weeks since we entered Iran. After the inexpressible heat at the Persian Gulf itâ€™s now much more enjoyable here in Yazd, basically at the edge of the desert. Starting in Bandar Abbas, we cycled over rolling hills and a few cols, visited Shiraz and reached Yazd where we now take a little break. We love the place and enjoy strolling through the picturesque old town. Moreover, our tandem gets a well deserved "beauty-day" while we are finally releasing our new webpage.
Iran has been simply fantastic so far. The people along the road, in villages and towns are extremely heartily. We can often hardly cycle a few meters without stopping for a chat, having pictures taken of the two of us on the bike or kindly refusing the innumerable invitations for a meal or for staying overnight - cause, if we wanted to accept them all we would clearly still be sitting at our point of departure... After only two days in the country we have been interviewed for a broadcast on national TV, which undoubtedly helped us gaining popularity ;-)
Now we are waiting for the presidential elections to be over before we jump back on the saddle to cycle to Esfahan, Kashan and Qom.