The cycling in central Uzbekistan has so far been largely uneventful. The only redeeming feature of the flat, unremarkable kilometres are that they have at least passed relatively quickly. The cities which punctuate the tedium however, are certainly far more noteworthy. At one point in history Samarkand and Bukhara were two of the most affluent and influential cities of this region, although both have also taken a bit of a hammering over the centuries; most notably from the particularly disagreeable Genghis Khan. Some impressive restoration work followed (the purists argue ultimately too much in Samarkand) and what remains is a visual spectacle.
It is difficult not to be impressed with the grandeur of the architecture dotted around these cities and it certainly makes a pleasant backdrop for our futile pursuit of a working ATM. It would be safe to say though, that we have had our fill of intricately tiled medressas, mausoleums, mosques and minarets, as we contemplate the prospect of a sandy windswept desert for the next week.