It feels like only 24 hours ago that I was in the exact same position, lying in my tent writing my diary in the middle of the desert-like Uzbek steppe, slightly gritty from the pervasive fine sand and watching the stars emerge in the darkening sky. Oh yeah…that’s because I was. It’s easy for days to blend into one another when they consist of the same thing: waking up, packing up camp, riding hard all day through an unchanging landscape, setting up camp, going to bed. A few things that made today different: (1) I saw two individuals of a small mammal, rodent-like, with a dark tuft on the end of the tail (when I find internet I’ll check out what they were); (2) I saw a snake when I tried and failed to traverse a sandy track to find a campsite; and (3) three big bombs exploded on the horizon mid-afternoon, making huge bangs and throwing up a mushroom-shaped dust clouds.

The riding went smoothly. I first stopped at a chaihana after about 25km, where I bought a water, peach drink, frozen non and snickers bar (12,000s, AU$2). My second stop at 60km was in the middle of nowhere, where I parked my bike against a roadside cement bollard, sat on my campstool and rested for a little as I ate the bread I’d bought earlier and some of my trail mix. About 6km further on I came across a chaihana that was busy with tourist buses. I stopped in and bought two non, pepsi, cold water and five tomatoes (also 12,000s, AU$2). I rested for about thirty minutes while I ate some of the bread and tomatoes. After another 24km I stopped at yet another chaihana, enjoying a cold water and lemonade, and also buying a chunk of salami to have with dinner. Fast forward another 40km and here I am in my tent.

After failing to get down the sandy track I mentioned before, I rode on a little further and came across a solid dirt track leading away from the main road. Relatively recent tyre tracks suggested I should be a little wary of people finding where I am. I left the track after about 800m, wrestling my bike over a low sandy hill where I found the sheltered depression in which I have set up my tent. Not taking any chances, I followed my tyre tracks back to the main track and wiped them clean so they are not visible to passers-by. As I cooked dinner a vehicle went past on the track in both directions, so I’m glad I made the effort to totally hide my presence. While the chances that people finding me are up to no good is low, I much prefer no one knowing where I am. While at Rumi’s hostel, one Mongol rally crew of English guys recounted a tale of camping out and getting harassed by drunken locals who demanded money. The same guys had to abandon their car to hunt down a spare part and while they were gone their vehicle was broken into and everything stolen from the boot.

For dinner I cooked rice with salami and vegetables (potato, capsicum, onion and eggplant), flavoured with salt, mixed spices and mayonnaise. After another big day on the bike, I am very tired.

 Not much to the world out here

Accommodation Free-camp
Distance ridden today 130.49km
Average cycling speed 17.5kph
Total distance ridden 21,712km