Day 71, 12th June, Altyaryk

Went to have breakfast at the caff in the morning. Seemed only fair when they had let us sleep on their property. The boiled chicken legs in some sort of stew with boiled potatoes looked nice, but a bit heavy for a day that was already hot by 8 am. So we had a most delicious omelette made with finely chopped sausage, tomatoes, peppers and herbs. Beautiful.
We set off for Kokand and got lost in Almalyk, basically because the sign (yes, there was one!!!) called it Qoqon. Eventually found the right road and I was rewarded by the sight of the massive spoil heap of the Angren strip mine and its nearby coal-fired power station. From Angren, the road rose steeply over a spur of the Pamirs through some dramatic scenergy with large man-made lakes and towering mountains with large patches of snow on their peaks. When the road ran through a deep, steep gorge, it was sobering to think that camel caravans must have trod exactly this same path for centuries.
In Angren we wasted a lot of time (and diesel) looking for diesel but eventually found some at the most unlikely looking garage where all the staff were asleep and I was walking away when one of them called me back.
A very sad event. Halfway up one of the surpentines between Angren and Kokand, a large number of cars and trucks had stopped and people were looking over edge. We stopped and I went to look, although the mangled wreckage of the central reservation and the roadside barrier told me what had happened. Several hundred feet down in the bed of a river was the burned out wreckage of a truck. You see these things on the telly and they leave you cold. In stark reality they make you feel sick. No pictures.
At Kokand, we saw the magnificent Khan’s palace, but there was nothing much else worth seeing. The Khan joined the wrong side in the Civil War and the Tashkent Soviet sent a large force which defeated him and killed 10,000 of his followers.
The roads in Fergana valley of eastern Uzbekistan are a succession of small farming villages where the houses are separated from the road by a seemingly endless above-ground gas pipeline which just about everybody has hidden by vines.
We then set off for Margilon, a major centre of silk manufacture and spent the night near (not on!) a level crossing at Altyaryk. A visit from three friendly police who supported Manchester City and couldn’t get their heads round the fact that we had driven from Scotland to Altyaryk. Ten minutes later a visit from their boss, a young and charmless man who kept grabbing my arm and whose only words of English were “I big policeman” and “I not dangerous”. Glad I wasn’t an Uzbek! Otherwise all the traffic cops we have spoken to have been utterly charming, and one even stopped three lines of traffic on a roundabout so we could get round it.

Makers of delicious Tashkent omelette
Angren mine spoil heap
Angren power station
Lake on spur of Pamirs between Angren and Kokan
Kokand fountain
Khan’s palace
Pavement roof in palace courtyard
Khan. Or at least some prat in a cloak
Gateway to Fergana Province

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