As if the two hours spent crammed around a tiny luggage conveyor belt with 200 other passengers at 4.30am hadn’t frayed our nerves enough, this was the bike transportation arrangement from Samarkand Airport:
The price of this dicey trip was $25USD, a total fleecing we would later discover, but you have to admire their enterprise.
They produced a single tie down strap and we watched with skepticism as they lashed our precious Surlys to the homemade roof rack of a beaten-up Daewoo Nexia. Jack travelled with the bikes while I went with the other guy, who asked if Jack was my husband. The first of many times that mistake is made, no doubt.
We later learned the $25 should have been $15 max, but the bikes arrived intact and all we cared about at that point was getting horizontal.
Furkat Guesthouse is a ramshackle building facing a courtyard, with nooks and crannies at its edges filled with rugs and cushions. We found one to sleep in for the five hours before our room was ready. At about 10am we were marinating as temperatures pushed 37 celsius.
Our host invited us to eat the breakfast he’d prepared. Fresh melon, fresh-squeezed plum juice, a hard-boiled egg, some baked pasties with veggies and meat inside and what we think was the sour milk soup that’s popular here.
We biked to a little restaurant about a k and a half from the guesthouse for dinner where two pints, fries, salad, freshly-baked bread, a delicious grain that was similar to barley and grilled chicken set us back $6USD. Not bad given we ordered with the help of the waitress whose minimal English put our total lack of Russian to shame, and we weren’t entirely sure what we were getting and of what quantity.
We’re also considering starting a tally for the number of times I have to subtly withdraw my hand after a Russian man denies me for a handshake, instead snaking past to shake Jack’s.*
* I should explain here that these were Russian tourist men staying at our guesthouse. I realise local Muslim men may not want to shake my hand for cultural reasons. This was just funny because I was standing directly in front of them but they made an effort to go for Jack, who was standing a little behind me.