Friday, 28 September 2012

tough decision & deep disappointment!

Well, this was our most sad moment on our trip. due to the fact that Astrid had no more power and she was not possible to eat anything it made no sense to continue our trip through the mountains. if somebody does not know traveling by bicycle it might be difficult to understand. the last two months of our focus was on this part of the journey; how steep, is there water, what kind of food, how will be the weather conditions....? there are so many things to think about. in Western Europe you can travel through the mountains and you will always find a mountain cabin where you can get some food or protection from weather influences. if there would be a serious problem, there will be the SAR-helicopter from the mountain rescue service. here is nothing! perhaps some farmers or shepherds with a mobile phone, but if you have to go to a hospital, you will never get the same treatment as in Western Europe. food is a big problem, too. it is difficult to
find oat flakes or good vegetables. Astrid is vegetarian and all dishes are with meat. it is difficult for me, too, to get the energy I need. only dates or snickers for lunch is too less. I lost minimum 6 kilos of my weight but I feel much better and with more power in comparison to the day of my start. never expected that I can be a sticker, because I learned to cycle more efficient; long distances with a heavy bike and low food... ok that is enough with self-adulation ;-)

well It makes no sense to take the risk of a burnout of Astrid. we had to go back. I compare it with an athlete: you did everything for being a part of a championchip, you trained hard and with a high level of discipline, no alcohol, correct food, low sparetime and suddenly you got injured or ill and "game is over". Never have been so disappointed like on this day! Honestly when we turned back I had tears in my eyes, but we are one team and it is self-evident to care for each other.

on the way to the high mountains of KGZ

we left Osh and cycled in direction to Jalal-Abad. we met Chris and Anna from Germany, coming from Bishkek. only 15 min later we met Mark from GB, Timon from NL and Bart from Belgium, coming from Bishkek, too. in the evening, we tried to find a campsite, but there were only houses. we took a sideway and asked a man if we are allowed to camp on the lawn next to his house. he invited us to his home with his family and offered us a possibility to sleep. a chicken soup for supper , how delicious! 54 km , 40km by truck.

we left our host and he asked for money.... hm, seems to be a different understanding of being a host between Europe and Central Asia. I gave him 200 Soms, what is roughly 5 USD. only 36km. Astrid was not fit again. in the afternoon we had a beer with two man on the street. camping at a river.

24km uphill on a gravelled road. indeed a hard job.several farmers with cows and sheeps. we did not know if it would be possible to cycle to the mountains. a severe sheep desease was currently there and many animals died. some areas have been quarantined. after 35 km we camped at a river with campfire. we had a outdoor-shower and suddenly a big flock appeared and one of the shepherds on his horse joined us for supper. he was well informed and it was so funny to talk with him.
he told me to sit on his horse..... well, I would like to ride a horse in KGZ!!!!!!!!

Astrid felt very bad again. it makes no sense to climb the two passes. we decided to cycle back to Osh
and take a bus to Bishkek. camping close to the river two days ago.24km.

we started climbing a hill of 12%. not long but tough for Astrid. she was really exhausted. After 55km of light downhill we tried to find the restaurant where we stopped five days ago, but we missed it. we had to climb another 12%, now for four kilometers! Astrid was so hard to herself. on the summit we stopped and drunk some water, always looking for a truck which can take us to Osh. after ten minutes one stopped and asked us !! good luck and no hesitation! we approximatley saved two days of cycling. well, we are on a bicycle-trip, but if it is necessary to take another means of transportation we take it. there are other cyclists which refuse this attitude, but it is everybodies free decision. after 60 km we hoped out and cycled 6km to our guesthouse. we had luck, we got the last room again. what a day !


Friday, 21 September 2012

Osh (KGZ), Part I

we crossed the border to Kirgistan without any problems and filling out dubious forms. Since the 1st of August 2012 we need no more visa up to sixty days. as soon as possible we wanted to find the "Tes Guesthouse" which is recommended by tripadvisor.we found it quite quick. it is small but clean and very friendly staff. we had luck, we took the last room. a hot shower since several weeks ! the last showers only had delivered warm water. after this stressful day a big recreation :-)
27km, 2h07, avs 12,9, total 5449

Astrid checked our stocks of food,
I made some reports. later we went to the bazaar, buying our food for the coming days. a visit at the hairdresser was urgent. We went back to the guesthouse and did our laundry. I felt not very well, so we decided to leave Osh on Friday. Astrid cooked a delicious meal. a group of tourists arrived. they were from Switzerland, Germany and USA, heaving
a guided photo-tour.

a long breakfast with the tourists from Switzerland and Germany.
one of the Swiss tourists supports the aid organisation "HilKa" what means "Help for Kazachstan". he told us many interesting things about KAZ and the organisation. We met Aikokul and her collegue Basil for lunch. she studied in Magdeburg/Germany and Prof. Heiko Schrader, whom we met in Bukhara, is her tutor. she works at the German GIZ, the "Gesellschaft fuer internationale Zusammenarbeit". in the afternoon we made some backups and slepted a little bit. in the evening we went to a small restaurant, its name is "California", and was recommended by Peter, a Dutch. He has been working in Osh now for two years, leading a project to develop the region around Osh. Two years ago there were rumors and many buildings have been destroyed.
After a delicious meal, with hamburger and french fries with ketchup for me, pasta with pesto for Astrid and icecream and cake we took a taxi to our guesthouse.

Due to the fact that Astrid had increased temperature we decided to stay one day longer. the coming days will be very tough so it made no sense to cycle with reduced power or take a risk to endanger the situation.

Astrid was still ill.At the breakfast there were two women from the GIZ in Bishkek, one was German and usually lives in Stuttgart. They have a project in the educational sector. Unfortunetly they had to catch the plane, so it was too less time to get more information about their work. after breakfast I prepared an Excel table for my tax-declaration 2012 and made some researches for our next steps, especially how and where to get the visa for China in Bishkek. in the afternoon we met a man and woman from USA, living in KGZ and working for the US government. they have a project for increasing the quality in food. in the evening again "Restaurant California".

Astrid felt better. Gerrit from Cologne stayed in the guesthouse, his LP for China supported us to plan the next steps more detailed.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

from Tashkent to border UZ

start from Tashkent in direction to Kirgistan. I noticed only now that somebody has stolen one of my rearview mirror. this bloody bastard had to use a higher criminally energy, because it was fixed with a screw and
you need a special tool. my other one is only fixed with an elastic band but I had it in my bag.
we see the harvest of cotton, but only cycling and nothing more to mention.
79km, avs 17,8, 4h25

First day that we had oat flakes for breakfast . how yummy ! we had to climb many hills on a two lane highway. we had to stop at a checkpoint which is close to a big reservoir. seems to be a strategic point for the army. it became evening and we decided not to cycle to the Kamchik pass today, because we did not know if there will be a possibility to camp. we tried to camp at a river but there were soldiers who told us that there is a military area. we had luck, behind a restaurant we were allowed to camp. 73 km avs 14,8.3

now 5 months traveling. we crossed the summit of the Kamchik Pass. 15 km uphill, 1000 altimeter, 2187 altitude; this was really a hard job. there were two tunnels we cycled through and at the beginning and at the end we had to show our passport. military area again. after 48 km downhill to the Fergana Valley wild camping in a plantage. the farmer and his son brought us some fruits.what a surprise! early sleeping at 7:30 pm.

today there were many photo shootings, people wanted
to take pictures with us and this can be annoying, but they were so friendly. we met Guido from Belgium, cycling through UZ. just before looking for a campsite we discovered a watering place and a man offered us a fresh cantaloupe. we filled our bottles and a water bag and found a silent place for camping.
92km, 4h28, avs 20,6, total 5331

start at 9 am, through Boz, many stops and waving people, lunch at a restaurant. shashlik! yeah , meat again :-). we cycled through Khojaabad, where on a distance for 2 km all houses were knocked down. we did not know the reason, but we supposed that is for enlarging the street. we planned to camp again and asked two women in a side street if we can camp in the fields behind their houses. what a surprise: one of the women invited us to her home, offered us a room for spending the night and served us a delicious Uzbek food. several neighours joined us. well, what a friendly and funny homestay :-)
91km, 4h50, avs 18,8.

we left our host at 8am. during the night it had been raining. first rain since two months on our trip!
we had headwind and after 2 km we spend our last Soms for food. the owner of the shop invited us for tea and some fruits. distance to the border only 25km, but our muscles were aching. we arrived at the border at 10:30 am and got a form to fill out. the same one as on our entry. and now the horror began: I imported 565 USD, in Urgench and Tashkent I grabbed more than 2000 USD at the atm (due to the following countries) and I declared over 1600 USD today. the immigration officer told me that it is not allowed to export more USD than imported. it was a young officer and he tested me, if I will stay cool and friendly. no problem ;-) . well, I asked stupid what to do... I corrected the USD on the form and went back to him. well he asked me if I try to fiddle, but I kept cool and, indeed, he gave me, with a smile on his face, a new form; his order: give it back to me without mistakes ! no problem ;-) . while I have been engaged with filling out the form, he contacted Astrid, asking her about our next steps of our trip. I gave him back the new form and he accepted it!! then we had to put all our bags to the x-rays... he checked my drugs ( not: Drogen) very accurately and wanted to know if I have some with narcotic ingredients. then he checked Astrid's bags. all ok!
if this immigration officer would had been very strict, I would have lost more than USD 1000. good luck ! after 2,5 hours full of stress we left Uzbekistan.

we met so many friendly people but it is a real police state with a high level of permanent surveillance.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

from Samarkand to Tashkent

we went by bike to the railwaystation. 8 km with an avs of 15km/h. amazing ! :-) at 11:20 we started by train, which was comfortable. at 3pm we arrived in Tashkent and searched for an accommodation. some taxidrivers recommended the Hotel Grand ISt, which is very new and not to expensive for a capital city. there were two guys from Switzerland, Andreas and Dominik. they came by car quite the same way as us to UZ. craty stories :-)

Chinese embassy was closed, so we walked a little bit through the city. we asked several travelagencies if they could organize a Chinese visa, but no chance. we stopped at a cafe, which offered delicious European cakes and coffee . so yummy :-)
we needed some Som and we knew from the Swiss guys that at the local bazar some ladies are changing money. was easy going :-)
after Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand
we were tired of sight-seeing, so we made some researches for the next steps on our trip.

Chinese embassy was still closed. we decided not to stay longer in Tashkent.
after lunch we walked to the cafe with the delicious coffee and cake.
after some research we went to the Italian restaurant, where we have been yesterday and had a delicious lasagne and raviolis. so yummy :-)

Saturday, 8 September 2012

from Bukhara to Samarkand

we went by minibus to Samarkand. the trip should take not longer than 4hours, with the stupid driver it took 6 hours. he permanently was engaged with using his radar detector, which never worked, of course. he drove slowly on the smoother asphalt and drove like a devil on the very bumpy street. we were really groggy after this trip.
we arrived in Samarkand at 5pm and found the B&B Hotel Furkat very easy. it is recommended by "Lonely Planet". first impression was very good. very friendly and beautiful location and rooms. 40 Dollars were not cheap but we thought it should be worth.
well, one our later, after putting all the bags into the room, bad surprise . no hot water, WiFi only for two ours in the evening. the description by Lonely Planet was quite different. we complained the problem. he was upset but offered us another apartement.

the next morning there was again no hot water and he told us lies: the gaz company sometimes cuts the supply during the day. this was real nonsense. during the day we checked several guesthouses and they had no problems with gaz at all. the most serious problem of this hotel was the breakfast. According to Lonely Planet it should have been a real declicious one. well it was simple, but first we had mouldy bread and the jam was a graveyard for ants. Sickly ! we left this dubious guesthouse after sightseeing and stayed in a new one, but much cheaper and with very hospitably owners.
the very positiv item on this day was meeting Shaxnoza. she runs a small shop in the Registan and is highly educated. she was so friendly and told us so many details about her country. we were glad to met her and we will keep in touch !

we went by taxi to the railwaystation to buy tickets to Taschkent. back at the hotel we played table tennis! how funny ! I estimate that ten years have passed by when I played .
in the afternoon we made our documentation.

we did a little bit sight-seeing and we met Joern from Germany and Rogerio from Brasil. very funny meeting im front of a monument. in the afternoon Astrid baked some pancakes. extremly yummy :-) . later we had some skype-sessions.
tomorrow we go by train to Taschkent,
where we try to get the visa to China...
could be a problem for Astrid because the Dalai Lama visited Austria in May and since this event there is trouble between Austria and China.....


if I compare the mentality or attitudes with those of my country, there are two big differences.

the majority of the people of former countries of the USSR, where we cycled through, are not able to work efficient or have a joined-up thinking. if they should construct these very old builings again without foreign help they would fail.if you build a house in Germany you can have bad luck, no doubt, we have incompetent craftsmen, too, but it is not the rule. we see many houses, hotels, guesthouses or hostels and this grade of botch is really enourmous. the same with highways or freeways. they are a total desaster. now a German company (Papenburg) got the contract to rebuild several sections.

Family structure:
most of the families have the same old-fashioned structure as in Germany or Austria eighty years ago, for example: women had to be married until the age of 25, minimum two children, have to live in the household of her husband and have to do all the homework. there is no possibility to get a higher education. due to this permanent excessive demand many women have psychologically problems

Friday, 7 September 2012

from Khiva to Buchara

on this day we did 85km, 4h51, avs 17,4, total 4972. at a cafe we had a funny photo shooting with some men from the village. later we met Antje and Wojtek from Leer (Germany, East-Friesland),member of the Tajik Ralley to Duschambe. we camped under a railway bridge with access to a channel with quite good water for cooking and washing.

we started at 9 to go back on the main road and made autostop to Buchara; it was 25 km to cycle on an acceptable road. Astrid was not feeling very well due to a coming cold. we crossed a big bridge with many policemen. seemed to be a strategical object. no problems at all they were very friendly.after arriving on the main road we looked for some trucks but they were sealed. there was the new road under construction, closed for all, but possible for cyclists. we cycled 2 km then we went back to a truckstop at the old road. the second trucker we asked from UZ was willing to take us with to Buchara.he transported carpets from Khiva to Navoy and had some space for all our stuff. Big luck ! it was the same bad road as in KAZ, now along the border to Turkmenistan. for five hours only an average speed of 15. we were glad not to cycle this rubbish.
we noticed another cyclist. he was from Japan, on the way to Aschkabad in Turkmenistan. small talk on the highway. delicious dinner at a truckstop. 100 km later he stopped at a hotel and we were glad to had such a good taxi,then a shower and then time to do some sight-seeing in a famous city at the Silk Road

we left the hotel at the highway and cycled to the city centre, looking for the Hotel "Amulet" which is recommended by "Reise-know-how"- . a German publishing company.
what a beautiful city! we were more impressed than in Khiva.
and I did now 5000km by bicycle !!
we did not find it immediatly so we had to ask. well, do not believe
any information about distances they are mostly wrong. what a pitty: the hotel had a room for only one night and we do not wanted to move our stuff every day. there were many other hotels and b&b guesthouses and we find one. cheap, friendly, with Wifi :-). there were two other cyclists from
GB, Helen and Joe, who had the same way as us. they met Laura and Ash from AUS, too; small world :-). we had some lunch, I slepted a little bit, Astrid repaired a puncture at her bike, wrote her diary and in the evening we wanted to have dinner.
what a surprise: on our way looking for a restaurant we noticed two FIAT "Panda" from Austria (Graz and Steyr) member of the Tajik Ralley 2012, same as Wojtek and Antje from Germany, we have met three days before. Just in this moment I told Astrid "look! there are cars from Austria" a young woman came behind us, from Austria, too. Petra did not belong to the Tajik Ralley, she is a photographer, coming with her partner Juergen ( from Iran. after this small talk we bought some bread, cheese, sausages and beer, went back to the guesthouse and had dinner there.

The trip by truck exhausted me more than cycling. all my bones were aching due to the bumpy road. we started our sightseeing-tour but after half an hour we stopped at a cafe; Gertrud from Mannheim (Germany) runs this cafe, offering delicious coffee and German cake. I lived for twenty years in Mannheim and around and there was much to tell:-). two German couples entered the cafe. we came into contact and the two men were professors for sociology at the University of Magdeburg. they manage a project in Kazachstan and Kirgistan which studies the households with their rural and familiar structure. they told us some details and we were really impressed. we stayed longer in the cafe than planned but it was really great to met them all. we did a little bit sightseeing and then went to a internet cafe to make some reports and backups. in the evening we had dinner at our guesthouse and had a conversation with a couple from Spain, cycling through the world , too.

in the morning we had a guided tour through Buchara. much better than walking on your own.
we met Juergen again from Austria. he told us some details about Kirgistan, which are very important for us.
in the afternoon I checked my bike
and Astrid and me wrote some postcards. we wanted to have German cake again so we walked to Getruds "Cafe Wishbone" and had a delicious "Marmorkuchen". so yummy :-)). Heiko, the professor from Magdeburg and his wife, Cordula arrived, too. again a funny meeting. well, you remember, that more than a month ago, Astrid had an accident and needed to be stitched at her left hand and knee. she had splinters of glas in her wounds, but the doctor assured that there is nothing more. four days ago Astrid removed a 5mm glass splinter out of her hand. really no reason to be amused! now, Cordula, she is a doctor inspected the scar and there is no more problem. thank you very much, Cordula !
at 5 pm we had our wellness-programm: visiting a hammam from the 16th century. how relaxing!! all the stress from the desert disappeared.
in the evening we met Tim and Sharyn from Down Under and Elisa from the US. we had our supper with them and they told us important things about Kirgistan. we keep in touch!

Astrid became ill, vomiting, riding the porcelain god and fever. I went to a internet cafe and did some research, in the afternoon coffee at Cafe Wishbone
and in the evening supper and some beers with Sharyn and Tim from Broken Hill in Australia and Eliza from New York. I met Andrew from Melbourne, travelling from Australia to Berlin by motobike (BMW)

03.09. Astrid was still ill... Dasom from South Korea arrived at our guesthouse
and she was not feeling very well, same sypmtoms as Astrid.

I woke up in the early morning with vomiting, fever,diarrhoe and heavy
pain in my stomach. whole day ill. Dasom was ill, too.. bad day. we heard that there were many people in Samarkand who had the same problems. seemed to be a epidemic.

we had breakfast :-) well we felt much better but were still not fit. I checked the possibility to go by train to Samarkand and in the afternoon we again had a coffee and cheesecake. one adventure on this days was bringing a package to the local postoffice. it contains several parts of our equipment and should arrive in Germany. we packed it very carefully and put a lot of tape around, but at the postoffice it was reopenend again, then different forms and the very friendly woman stitched a bed linen around, I had to write the adress on it. then she sealed it. amazing :-)

one important information :
Guenter our inner pig dog is not alone anymore!
Camilla, the flying camel will join him. he is really happy :-)