The plan is to leave Kilkenny the end of April 2013 and cycle across Europe via cycle routes which seem an appealing way of avoiding traffic! The direction is the East-West crossroads of Odessa on the Black Sea in the Ukraine. That area intrigues me despite my ignorance of it – Lvov, great shifts of power in central Europe over the centuries, vague references in various wars, the Crimea, Sebastopol, Yalta Agreement… Then Georgia and Azerbaijan. Anyone have an interest in that part of Europe and can fill me in? Pints on me.
Next stage is across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan. From here it gets very exotic as eastwards stretch the old Silk Road routes that carried trade, religion and cultures across the deserts and mountains of Central Asia. If you’re not too familiar with it (as I wasn’t until recently) google Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand in Uzbekistan to give an idea of the flavour. It’s grabbed a hold of my imagination big time. Then the Pamir ‘highway’ in Tajikistan and the reputedly beautiful, mountainous and accessible Kyrgyztan.
In to Xinjiang province in China, and the Turkic Uyghar people and desert culture that made a big impression on me in a former life. Turn right for the Kunjarab Pass the world’s highest by road, and down the magnificent Karakorum ‘Highway’ in Pakistan (security permitting). I drove a truck down there a couple of times years ago (spotted a snow leopard!) and the autumn colours and mountain majesty (K2 on the left) is spectacular. Into northern India and bolt for the quieter roads of lowland Nepal.
At the moment there is no land entry into Burma. I am hoping – there is a rapid opening up by the country’s authoritarian government – that may have changed and will be liaising with contacts there for up-to-date info.
The route – about 15,000 kms – is aspirational, and obviously subject to change with Plan B, C, and Ds depending on circumstances.