with Rod Oram


B to B 2024

B to B 2023

Tour of NZ 2023


Tour Aotearoa

Brides and melons

Aug 22, 2023

Day 20. Friday August 18. Khujand to Bekobod. 122km, with 560 m of climbing

One more aspect of the nightlife of Khujand before I get on to today’s happenings. Fazli, our local guide, told us weddings are very big in Uzbekistan…and in Khujand, our hotel’s restaurant seems to be very popular venue for them, judging by great celebrations both evenings we stayed there.

Here’s a brief video from the second evening of the bride being welcomed to her wedding party by trumpeters and drummers. We’re pretty sure the man holding the flowers was her husband-to-be. She had arrived in a Mercedes Maybach stretch limo.

No doubt they had partied long into the night. Thanks to hotel’s diligent staff, tho, the restaurant was back to its ‘normal’ state by the time we breakfasted at 6.30am the next morning. Only the bride and groom’s top table, bedecked in (artificial) flowers, suggested the great festivities the evening before.

While we didn’t experience such lavish hospitality, we were very touched by the humble hospitality a shopkeeper offered us some three hours into our ride this morning. His was likely a newish establishment, given most of the homes and other buildings around it were still under construction.

The day was already hot by mid-morning so a group of about five of us riders stocked up on water, fizzy drinks and ice creams. But he refused to take our money. We sat outside to enjoy our refreshments while the man in charge of the builders got his phone’s Google Translate on to speak to us: “When you return, all houses finish. Village beautiful.”

Half-way through our day’s ride we reached Tajikistan’s border with Uzbekistan. The queues of people and vehicles were much longer, and the processing much slower than we’d experienced three days before coming into Tajikistan. We soon learnt why from our support crew who had been there since early morning with three of our vehicles. As a precautionary measure our fourth vehicle had crossed over the evening before.

The previous day Tajikistan border guards had found some 50kg of heroin hidden in a vehicle (worth some US$5m a cursory web search suggests). Thus, they were being extra vigilant today. Tajikistan shares its southern border with Afghanistan, making the roads through it to Uzbekistan as start of one of the main heroin routes to the wider world.

We riders were fortunate to complete formalities both sides of the border in about an hour and a half. But our bags plus cooking, camping and all other tour equipment in our three vehicles were minutely inspected. The crew in the third van weren’t free ‘til about 10pm, making it a 15-hour crossing for them.

Meanwhile, we cyclists were leading a far cushier life, with the heat relieved by this wonderful water melon stop late in the day’s ride.

By afternoon we arrived at our very pleasant hotel named after metallurgy, given Bekobod is a town built on steel and cement production beginning in the 1940s, by late afternoon. Our bags arrived much later so we had the novel experience of showering then getting re-dressed for dinner in our dusty and sweaty cycling gear.

1 Comment

  1. Rachel Tipping

    We loved the wedding procession, Rod! Your blog is brilliant, and we’ve been thoroughly enjoying reading it all the way through. Praying for continuing safety and good health for you all, Rachel and Simon