If you ever find yourself wondering the streets of Tashkent or Dushambe in search of a proper cup of coffee do not despair!
After a hard day of registration-hunting in Dushambe I’ve come across this cool and trendy cafe in Rajabov street where I enjoyed a well-earned cappuccino.
Slightly more tricky in Tashkent where Dick (Dutch guy cycling) and I sat ourselves down for a cup and were presented a bill of 14.000 sum! (about 12$) When I told Alisher his reply was ”Well yes… you went to a place for ‘cool’ people”…. Ah… silly me. He showed me a place a few blocks down where the coffee is better and the prices too, a slight lack of atmosphere like in the rest of Tashkent but the coffee is good.
It isn’t the most happening place but I did manage to squeeze in two birthday parties, Nigora’s 30th and her moms 50th. Alisher helped me buying them presents and I had to give a speech. I like the way they dance, a bit different from the Turkmen, jumping around on ska-like Russian tunes. The more vodka, the more dancing 🙂
My last day there I came home to a room full of broken glass, books all over the place but the aquarium miraculously survived, at first I thought of burglars but soon I realized there wasn’t anything missing and the other rooms were fine. Maybe my host has gone crazy, but no… The whole wall of shelves just came down! Messy.
But two weeks in Tashkent, however nice Nigora, Alisher and everybody else has been to me, is enough. I was very happy to receive the last visa and make my way down to Samarqand where I found 9(!!!) other cyclist in the hostel. Great to chat and hear what awaits me, and even better to actually get back in the saddle.
Everything looks, smells and taste just a little bit better when you cycle. When there are birds singing, sun shining and people smiling, and you get invited by random people for tea, lunch and grapes straight out the gardens…. tralalalala
I don’t know why I bothered with the whole registration-business in Uzbekistan, the border guards asked for nothing, …except where my husband is..
“Hello Lady, welcome to Tajikistan” the first words in a new country. The landscape is much more interesting back into the mountains! I stayed in a small village where I got splashed with yoghurt because my red face must’ve looked burned… I just need to get used to cycle up hills again.
I even slept in my tent again, the first time since Iran and it didn’t bother me a bit! I’ve been a little worried about that one, but I stayed at a roadside restaurant where I had a shower with the kettle behind a wall. And in the morning, sipping my coffee while the sun peeped over the mountains surrounding the Zeravsan river which works its way through high cliffs and green valleys, I saw a cyclist struggling up the hill. A Swiss guy, going the same direction. But he couldn’t stop for a chat because he was in a hurry …?…
I got a lift to Dushambe the last 100km to be in time for that #%& registration. I drove with four Tajiks in a four-wheel drive over a road that’s not ready and being build by a whole lot of Chinese people, men and woman, who’ve been living here working on the road for a year already. Then through a tunnel that isn’t finished, where you can only go with special permission and is being build by Iranians. The whole lot was full of water, up to a meter in places. A few cars stranded. The views must’ve been magnificent, didn’t see it since we drove at night. Too much work going on during the day so they close the road. Good for cycling, I thought. After this ride I felt like all my organs ended up in the wrong place. Don’t wanna think about my poor bike in the back…
Had some interesting conversation with Afzalsho. I’ve been staying with his family here in Dushambe the last few nights. He’s a project manager for ‘Mission East’. He believes the water from Tajik rivers belongs to the Tajiks and the Uzbek shouldn’t use it.. or complain when a Tajik chemical factory dumps a whole lot of waste in it. ‘Its our water, we can do what we want with it’… even though the longest bit of it runs through Uzbekistan. Or a slight difference we’ve got about our vision on religion and life in general…
From here I’m heading to Bam-i-Dunya or Roof of the World, the Pamir highway! So you might not hear from me a little while but not to worry. I’ll reach China hopefully mid October (Do they drink coffee in China?) I’ll let you know how I got on.
For now I’ll say goodbye.