Newsletter #4 09SEP06 – Uzbekistan
Today it’s 5 months and 8532 km since Martin and I left April chilly Copenhagen and went on board the Poland ferry that marked the start of The Long Bicycle Trip. The route went through Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and now Uzbekistan, and ahead of me is Kyrgyzstan and gigantic China. To cycle solo across China will definitely be a big challenge that I’m looking forward to.
153 days on the road among people, religions, mountains, and smells and the like that all take part of the mental puzzle that’s been forming along the road and that is still growing and transforming. Naturally it’s a tough task select specific experiences from the last months and admittedly, I could’ve starting writing these newsletters earlier but it can be a quite strenous job to be both a full-time touring cyclist and all day long soak up the strange sounds & sights and then put in all into words in WT-world at the end of the day. But I don’t complain, certainly not – guess I just try to justify the long silence regarding the newsletters to myself and my slightly rosa ears!
It was sad to say goodbye to Martin (again) after just a few weeks on the road together. In the Eastern Turkey he decided on July 31th to leave the expedition and go back to Denmark. It can be hard to predict which way the wind blows sometimes. Yet in a slimmer solo version the Worldtraveller(s) expedition continues up the hills and down the valleys in a good mood and spirit.
To travel this way with bicycle, tent, camping and photo equipment and what it takes to be independent and self-sufficient can be tough. The physical part of this is obvious with daily average distances between 110 and 170 km and 5-8 hours in the saddle every day. But mentally it’s also quite demanding all the time to adapt, register, accept, and decide in the everchanging strange situations and to be the epicenter of and enormous attention (incl. people yelling, screaming, inviting you, throwing stones at you (rare event!)). When you are all blown-up in the head, dirty and tired after a long cycling day and arrive in a village only to be surrounded by hordes of curious people that all ask me the same stupid who-what-when-why-questions (at least that’s how they sound in my ears when hearing them for the 117th time of the day!) it can be a challenge to keep those good manners and that smile on your face! Living as a travelling cycle nomad you don’t come near to the daily routines that often constitute a normal everyday life, but it sharpens the senses, keeps the mind and thoughts working, makes me alive – and it’s very addictive indeed!
Generally people have been incredibly hospitable, interested and kind in all of the countries, I’ve cycled through and this – the open arms of the local people – is probably the single factor that’s made the biggest impression on me and it’s one of the heaviest gems in the bag. To me especially the Turkish, Caucasian and lately the Uzbeki hospitality has been overwhelming and worth all the efforts. It gives me a great pleasure and sense of security to know that no matter how disgustingly dirty and bad smelling you are after several days on the road without a shower and other luxuries, you’re still welcome.
In spite of – or maybe because of – the extreme hospitality and attention I meet everywhere, I often really need a private space for my own thoughts, reflections and for…just being me. But I have to fight for this precious space and often I don’t feel that there’s time and room for looking back on the last 5 months’ storm of the sences.
Anyway, you aren’t old until the day that you find more pleasures in the past than in the future, and something instinctly tells me that there are more good experiences to have, people to meet, stories to tell/be told and pictures to be taken out there. For now my nose show me the way – and you have to save a few anecdotes for the grand kids to come, don’t you?
Thanks for the attention!
PS – I do apologize for not translating all the diary entries into English. It’s just to much of a job for me while I’m on the road. I do what I can and I do have some energetic people back home doing a good job translating the diary whenever they can. I’m very grateful for that. To compensate I’ll post pictures every day thus making it a kind of a photo diary…(whenever the internet cafes allow me, i.e!)