28-Oct-2006 -- This is the 22nd and last confluence visit on a bicycle trip from China to Central Asia. The story starts at 32°N 107°E.
After the unsuccessful visit of 42°N 60°E, we stayed the night in the city of Nukus, 90km south of the confluence.
At 7:30 am we got up, had breakfast at 8 and started at 9 o’clock to cycle towards the confluence. For us it was an easy ride on asphalted and flat roads with pleasant sunny 20° C – a nice final for our 4000km bike trip, where conditions like that rarely the case.
The confluence is located in the southern outskirts of the town Qārozak. The town is one of these cotton-wool farming centres in the area south of the Aral-Sea. The river Kegayli doesn’t reach the Aral-Sea (i.e. its remains) anymore and peters out here. Besides irrigated farmland, the landscape is actually a desert.
In the evening we reached Qārozak. From the main road the confluence is located 700m to the West (when coming from Khalqābād). But these last couple hundred metres were harder to pass than we thought. Once we had left the asphalt, everything sank into deep mud. On the previous day it had rained a lot and all roads in town besides the main road were impassable. At a distance of 250m we abandoned our bikes, because it was impossible to push them through the mud anymore. All wheels were blocked due to the mud that kept sticking to the tyres. At a distance of 90m Elionora decided that this was close enough to have a successful visit and waited for me.
I continued through the mud until I could read all the zeros at the GPS display. The confluence is located directly at the road on a wooden fence. Inside the fence is a little yard with a stable. Opposite side are one-story dwellings. In all directions I could see animals: a donkey to the north, a dog to the west, hens to the east and birds to the south.
The way back we slipped and got muddy all-over. Helpful local farmers brought us some water to clean up the worst of it that covered our cloths.
When we reached the centre of Qārozak, it dusk had come already – time to find a place to stay. We asked around, but soon it became clear that there wasn’t any hotel or hostel. A crowd of people gathered around us (foreigners are not seen frequently here) and a discussion began where to put us. At the end, the mayor invited us and I was welcome to sit in the mayor’s chair. His book-keeper invited us to stay in his home. We had a feast of Plov (the traditional rice and meat dish in Uzbekistan). The mayor and his book-keeper instructed us, how Plov is eaten in the traditional way. The obligatory Vodka session was blighted by me pretending to have an alcohol allergy. This way, we had a pleasant evening and a pleasant next morning, when we managed to get up early and cycle back to Nukus.
CP visit details:
- Time at the confluence: 17:05 p.m.
- Time to reach the CP from the road: 25 minutes
- Distance to a track: 0 m
- Distance to a road: 700 m
- Distance of bicycle parking: 250 m
- Topography: flat
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 0.67 m
- Position accuracy at the CP: 5 m
- GPS height: 81 m
- Vegetation: cultivated farmland, in a town with willow trees in the courtyards
- Weather: sunny, 20° C (estimated temperature)
- Description of the CP: In Western Uzbekistan, ca 100km south of the current shore of Aral-Sea. Interesting location in the southern edge of a village.
- Given Name: The Traditional Plov Confluence
Story finishes here. From Nukus we took a train to Tashkent the next day. And from Tashkent we flew back to Frankfurt in Germany. Two months of great cycling in China and Middle Asia lay behind us.