The route across Uzbekistan from the present capital Tashkent to the old capital Samarkand is 333km long and relatively flat. It gives a good idea of how real people live, mostly relying on farming and maybe having a member or two of the family in another country or working in Tashkent. The people in the villages are super friendly, happy to have you camping behind their house and keen to talk to you at any opportunity.
Communication: The biggest problem facing people who try to talk to us is their inability to understand that a British guy can be married to a Canadian and that we don’t live in Canada or the UK. They want to give us their brother’s phone number in Montreal….’We don’t have a phone or live in Canada’, my sister works in HK….’We don’t any more’. We started just lying and saying we were both from Canada but then they want to ask me all about ice hockey (of which I know nothing and they know everything)
We have also discovered that unless we check the price before we buy anything it is normally at least 200% more than normal, even for buying a 50 cent ice-cream the price normally starts at about $2 until they negotiate the price down as we walk out of their shop and off down the street.
Most of the people in the countryside were absolutely lovely, refusing payment for tea and Samsa (bread or pastry stuffed with meat and vegetables) until we insisted. Strange how people with nothing are so generous, yet people with businesses just want to rip us off at every opportunity. Or maybe it’s not so strange.
At night we just camped by the road, not really making much effort to hide and sometimes people would come and see us just to say ‘Salaam’ and then walk off with their animals to leave us in peace, interested and friendly but not hassly, a welcome respite from the absolutely no peace of India.
Uzbekistan in late March is NOT WARM or DRY as we discovered on the second day, all our warm clothes having been sent home from Delhi meant that we just had to put our tent up and get into our sleeping bags to keep dry and warm, even though it was only 3.30pm…never mind, it can only get warmer as we head West.
There is a cycling guide for this part of the route in the Road Guides-Uzbekistan section with full route information including camping spots.