Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Center Of It All

One of the highlights for me was to ride through Merv, the ancient center that probably saw most of the Silk Road trade pass by its gates.  It was to be the one of the few opportunities we would have to say unequivocally that we were actually on the Silk Road.  There is not much there and hasn't been since Gengis Khan sacked the place in 1221 AD.  There is probably a case to be made that the destruction of Merv was the start of the end of the Silk Road as a commercial trade route - a decline that would take centuries to complete.

Another hot ride with a border crossing thrown into the mix as we left Turkmenistan and crossed into Uzbekistan.  There is a no-mans land area  between the two border points with a succession of check points along the way.  At the last Turkmenistan checkpoint the guard reached over, started my bike and raced the engine a few times.  He then insisted I pop a wheelie over the line into Uzbekistan.  The best I could do was to roost him with a face full of dirt.  This got me a smile and a thumbs up from the guards at the first Uzbekistan check point.  The entry into Uzbekistan was a long drawn out affair with multiple stops and offices to pass through and get papers stamped and processed.  The last office was the worst bottleneck as a disgruntled uniformed border officer single finger typed all of our bike and passport information individually into a computer which at one point crashed, of course.  Once through the border it was onto Bukhara - an magical place.

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