Sunday, 24 March 2013

death tunnel to Dushanbe

We left Uzbekistan without let or hindrance and snaked our way through four days of mountains and Nowruz festivities to Dushanbe. We ride a little further apart as we're more comfortable in company, familiarity granting space and quiet. The climbs whet my appetite; this family of roads is as close to a destination as my trip ever had. Both passes were a little spoilt by tunnels. The Chinese-built one flawless with asphalt, lights and ventilation; the Iranian one so horrific that we were strongly advised not even to think about attempting to ride it. We did think about it over chai and rice in the maintenance container - three miles of flooded and collapsing single carriageway, unlit and unvented - and weren't sorry to hitch a ride with bikes loaded high on the back of a coal truck. The Tunnel of Death moniker felt perfectly apt. The other side was snow and relief.

Downhill to Dushanbe we tracked a steep ravine sealed by low fog. The day grayed to dark alongside a brown melt-river; we slept in a restaurant after good soup and black tea. This morning pale pinks, pines and poplars embellished a craggy verdance. The gradient mellowed, the river swelled with tributaries, the road warmed and verges budded. By noon there were occasional daffodils and we were in the capital. The hostel owner here knows a lot about the mountains and can access facts like temperature and snow depth on the telephone; we're reassured and excited. Tomorrow morning I'll visit the Russian embassy to have a little look at my latest plan.



tunnel of death crew

Thursday, 21 March 2013

I'm already dead keen on Tajikistan. Spring has sprung and last night the Mayor gave me his bed for the night.

Stas & Olga, Tashkent

food not always so bland...

45 days :)

The Mayor, A Village

I even played

Nowruz Mubarak

Tajik Spring