Thursday, March 31 st, we have finally obtained our visas for Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
We are on our way, the bags are strapped to our bikes and it’s under pouring rain that we leave Bishkek to reach the Uzbek border 500km away.
It’s beginning to climb severely, while the temperature only goes downwards. No breathing difficulties but our engines are feeling the burn of altitude. We are reaching the first summet named Tôô-Asuu at 3596m, the scenery is amazing, snow as far as we can see but the roads remain clear.
The night begins to fall, we begin the descent and cut straight through the snowed up mountains. It definitely feels like we are on some foreign planet.
Snowflakes begin to fall and the cold slowly seeps it’s way into ou skin. We find refuge in a very small cabon in a village named Otmok where only scarce lorry drivers lay their heads down for the night. When we wake the next morning, there are 10cm of snow covering our bikes. The road seems clear enough but we have a big mountain pass to traverse, another 3184m to climb !
The road winds in and out for miles upon miles. We accelerate as much as possible during the descents and then get locked down from 70km/h to 20km/h in only a few meters. Progress gets sluggish…
When we reach the Uzbek border at the end of the afternoon, we decide to spend the night. A welcoming local family let’s us plant our tent in their back garden.
Every stop we make is a pretext to meet new people, and each time we don’t miss the opportunity of a photograph and glimpsing the smiles of everyone around us.
We wake at 6:30am the next morning to pass the border. We had been warned it might take hours to get through. On the Kyrgyz side, all is fine. A simple stamp on our passports to leave their territory. We are now in the 1km stretch of no man’s land to reach the Uzbek border. One massive fence awaits us up ahead and a dozen military officers join the party.
They open the doors. Passport and a whole load of papers to fill out for the bikes. They ask to search through our bags. One officer asks to check the contence of our cameras. They are looking for drugs, medicines containing codein or pornographic images. Then, finally, after a good 3 hours of waiting, we reach Uzbek soil.
The Uzbeks, as welcoming as ever, prove to us their hospitality on our very first night with this family. It’s almost 6pm, on the edge of a small village where we would like to spend the night. A few sign language gestures, eye contact, and then signs which obviously meant “come over to sleep at our place”. And that we did !
Communication isn’t easy but we spend a wonderful evening. We have trouble leaving the next day.
Everyone invites us for tea or to share a meal. It promises good times for the rest of Uzbekistan up ahead …
Currently in Tashkent, the capital, we are planning the fourth recording in an orphanage.