10 days in a row, and over 1,000km, across hot dry deserts, in temperatures over 35 is apparently my limit. I’m just absolutely shattered, feeling worse than I ever have before, barely capable of any speech, let alone coherent thought. I’m rolling into Bukhara, Uzbekistan, and it’s a beautiful city, but I’m just completely beyond taking it in, unable to think or concentrate. The last bottle of Gazly Su I had in Turkmenabat has upset my digestion big time, and I haven’t eaten anything all day, and I’ve just been too long on the bike without a rest. What am I doing to myself?
I woke up in Merv, feeling like crap. Normally when you wake up like that, you should have a rest. Instead, I decided to do the obvious thing, and ride for 160km across the desert. Hey, why not? Long hot dry riding, long way between any sort of towns, and even then they were just a few dusty houses. I get water, and move on, seeking camp in the desert.
And so, when I woke up the next morning, feeling even worse, and barely functioning, I was very slow at loading up the bike. Doing my last task of rolling up the tent, I just about have it done, when a sand-coloured scorpion comes running out from under the tent, and shocks me into life. Yikes! And then I couldn’t see where it went, as it is well-camouflaged. Finally I see it move, a couple of metres away, so I relax a bit, get the tent finished, and move off. I try not to think about A) the thinness of my tent floor, and how easily it could have pierced it, or B) that I was too lazy to put on any footwear when I got up and went to the toilet first thing that morning. Must be more careful.
Limp into Turkmenabat, luckily not too far, only 80km. Outskirts of town go on for ages, and it seems to be market days – TVs, fridges, live sheep, all sorts being loaded onto vehicles. Find a massive ripoff hotel, but I’m just too tired to argue, and settle for it. Then the bitch doesn’t like my $50 note, since it’s got a tiny rip. If you travel in this part of the world, make sure your US dollar notes are in immaculate condition, no marks at all.
Last day, takes forever to get to the border, then finally get through and into Uzbekistan. Wasn’t going to push all the way to Bukhara, but there weren’t really any decent campsites, and I was in a bad way, and really wanted a nice bed. Limped along, and finally, near dark, made it to Bukhara, and found Sasha and Sons which is just outstanding, the best place I’ve stayed in. Fantastic fitout, modern bathroom, clean soft proper bed…I almost shed a tear when I turned on the TV to find BBC World, the first time I can recall watching English language TV in months.
Just perfect, just what I needed, and I spent most of a day in bed, recovering. Starting to come right now, going to move to a cheaper homestay tonight, maybe stay here a few more days, maybe push on along the Golden Road to Samarqand – will see how I feel.