2009/06/03: Day Off in Jalal-Abad
We were staying with a Uzbeki family on a hilltop above Jalal-Abad. The day was spent doing laundry, going to the banya which is part of Jalal-Abad’s raison d’etre, and pedalling the 5 km to town for internet. When we were in our room, Adina, our hostess, would bring periodically bring laden trays to our room, cheerfully announcing, “Cup of tea!”
People come to Jalal- Abad to “take the waters” at a spa with a serious medical feel – tiled hallways and attendants in white uniforms. Adina and Sharif, her father-in-law, accompanied us to the banya, which is close to their house via a wooded path. After Chris and I had stripped in our respective cubicles, we got 15 minutes of soaking in our respective gigantic claw foot bathtubs. I’m not sure how much better than a regular shower or bath it was, but it was certainly an interesting cultural experience.
2009/06/04: Osh 113 km
The next day, we pedalled to Osh. One can’t go directly, because going through a projection of Uzbekistan, the Fergana Valley, would mean yet another visa. We rode through rich farmland and bought apricots beside the road. The hills were grasslands with abundant poppies, and birds nested in the roadside banks at the crests of the hills. We like watching the birds, but we’d never make real birdwatchers because we don’t really give a hoot what they’re called.
2009/06/05 : Day Off in Osh
Here in Osh we are working on our Iranian visa applications, inquiring about road conditions to Sary Tash, and stocking up on camping food staples. The Pamir Highway begins here, and we expect to reach the Tajik border in about four days. After five months on the road, we have made it to the Pamirs! This will be our first experience at extended high elevation cycling.
Internet access will get sparse over the next few weeks. We’ll try to keep in touch with our kids using the cell phone (if possible), and we may ask Louise to make the odd post announcing that the parents are alive and have made it to location XYZ. We may even ask a dutiful offspring to update the Google map, which seems to be blocked from here – we assume because of disputed borders. We’ll catch up on the account of our journey when we can.