The process of boarding the ferry across the Caspian was silky smooth. We, I met a french cyclist in Azerbaijan, were informed the ferry would depart from Alat. The 18th of June we arrived at the ferry around two in the afternoon, and were told the ferry would leave the same evening. Great news. In fact the boat left the next morning, but it could have been worse, we have heard horror stories of people waiting a week to board the ferry (that is not really horror, maybe more a drama).
Getting to the other side was acatually going too well, I was in Aqtau, Kazakhstan and had to wait for my Uzbekistan visa to begin. Because the whole bit between Aqtau and Samarkand (Uzbekistan) is desert, and because it was summer, and because i did not want to lose time because of this big detour, I figured taking the train would be a good option. And it was, the nighttrain offered a perfect insight into the Kazakh/Uzbek way of travelling, and apart from the sweating and the noise (not much sleep for me in this sleeper train) it was quite comfortable. I disembarked in Nukus, ugly place, cycled from there to Khiva, pretty place, and took a train again from Khiva (Urgench) to Samarkand. Bringing the bicycle in the train was easy, just buy the ticket some days in advance and show up early with the bike (another cyclist wanted to buy a ticket last moment but was denied because personel believed there would not be enough space for his bike. If you already have a ticket, I experienced, the train personel will accomodate you.)
From Samarkand onwards it was all cycling again. The ride via Baysun and Denau to Dushanbe was scenic, the Uzbek/Tajik border crossing was smooth, though the Uzbek border guard was thorough. After Dushanbe, where I took a day off, I took the m41 to Qalai Khumb, where I am right now. Tomorrow i am off again, feeling like a hobbit on an adventure. Still looking for some dwarves though.
Wild camp in the Kazakh desert.
Train from Aqtau to Nukus
Beautiful road from Samarkand to Denau