Thursday, July 13, 2006

Anjiyan Reservoir

I so enjoyed the Osh bazaar the previous afternoon that I went back again around lunch time. There was so much more activity, including that related to making lunch. In this I took much notice, sitting down to 2 portions of manty (pasta parcels stuffed with potato) & then a couple of samsa (a meat filled pastry). This was on top of a big pile of pancakes at the homestay in the morning. It was so nice to eat so much nice food. I was well on the way to getting back reserves sorely depleted in Tajikistan.

I left Osh in the early afternoon with my panniers stuffed with food. The road ran through the rich rolling agricultural land of the Fergana valley. I passed by fields of wheat, rice, corn & lots of sunflowers in bloom. The villages & towns had a prosperous look. There was little space left over for pasture. I stopped in the bazaar at Ozgen to cook up the rolled oats I'd found in Osh. I didn't find any fresh milk, it was to late on a warm day. As in Osh but unlike elsewhere I'd been in Central Asia I saw quite a few women wearing headscarves & even some with veils. Though none of them were in severe black as in Iran, Central Asian women's flair for colour was still present in the religiously more conservative.

The area is or was mainly Uzbek even though it was placed in the Kyrgyz Soviet Republic by Stalin. Just like ethnic lines the roads followed geography, which meant the main road connecting Kyrgyzstan's capital (Bishkek) with its second city (Osh) went via Uzbekistan. None of this mattered in Soviet times but after independence relations between the countries made it imperative for Kyrgyzstan to upgrade a back road that avoided Uzbekistan. I'd been told that this upgrade went all the way to Bishkek. The result for me was the best road I'd ridden on since Iran. Even though I'd only started cycling in the afternoon I still covered quite a distance. I'd banked on 10 days to Bishkek but it seems I'll get there earlier.

I stopped for the night in a nice spot just above but hidden from the highway. For the first time in a month or so I was going to sleep below 1000m above sea level. I had the best dinner in ages courtesy of frozen chicken pieces from Osh bazaar & baklava from a Turkish bakery in Osh, neither ingredient seen since Turkey.

I cycled 77 km in 5 hours & 7 minutes
Total so far 8614 km in 127 days
GPS Coordinates of end point - N 40°49.564, E 73°12.397

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