Our second blackmarket money change in Uzbek went even better than the first in Turkmenistan. It was delivered! Checking into the hotel we made a SIM card enquiry, turns out the cell phone guy had a cash connection too. Below are the wads required for a dinner for 8 of shashlik and maybe some vodka, definitely  the biggest meat skewers you can find this side of Brazil. 

With the currency so unwieldy it was decided to combine personal with team cash for the stay in Uzbek, mainly so we all didn’t need to carry backpacks to buy a bottle of water from the store. Serious stacks.

Its always Olivers time to shine in the garage, getting right down and dirty in the pit him and the mechanic were having a laugh about the state of our skid plate. Banging it out, switching some tires around and repairing the ABS lines cost all of six usd. Mechanics are nice because wherever you go they all love the same things, money and cars. After payment while Burma had a clean inside and out Seth and Oliver shared photos and swapped stories of the builds they have going back home.

Serious whacks were necessary 

Shenlong stickers cruise far and wide.

Much to most of the teams chagrin Bulma’s exterior was washed as well. So much for rally patina.

She is a looker though.

Like all good relationships, proper maintenance is a must. Aaaaand the occasional roadside repair. Oliver was very keen trying to beat the current record of 3 flats at once, but only managed to get two tires with the gigantic pothole that „couldn’t be avoided“

Without a functioning fuel gauge and laughable octane rating, even the zealously kept statistical data could not predict our next necessary fueling stop. Turns out it was pretty far from a actual pump. Two separate cars of locals stopped and asked us if we needed a hand. Best kind of people!

The Aral Sea is a sad reminder of the fragile balance in nature too easily tipped by man. Once one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, she dried to this after Soviet agriculture was put first. With all her tributaries diverted, it took less than 25 years for 68000km2 to disappear, along with the booming fishing and shipping industries that sustained the local population.

Rose: “You’re crazy!”

Jack: “That’s what everybody says, but with all due respect Miss, I’m not the one hanging off the back of a ship here.”

„All aboard!“

Slowly but surely all the boats are disappearing from this nautical themed desert. While driving to the shore a dump truck passed us going the other direction with part of a top deck and cabin of a large ship. Its a lark for tourism and makes for an unusual picture, but the reality is the ends have to meet means somewhere and its no longer a buoyant time out here. Sold for scrape or parted out to suit a new utility; its noticeable in the poorly quoted titanic reenactment that the steel plate has been cut from the hull, exposing lots of ribs.

Those that were party to this evening photographic enterprise were rewarded with this shot and dozens of mosquito bites after an ill advised attempt to drive down to the earlier pictured boats. Haha.

Ignore multiple signs with exclamation marks and pictures of tanks to visit this excellent counter terrorism training facility? Only because Markus insisted. Sorry Mom, we were only there 5 minutes.

Lots of that desert stuff, thats for sure.

Rugged desert. Rugged profile.

Rugged desert. Nap time.

Burma has a moment with Big Ben.

Crazy Aussies, epic ride.

Top deck, top fun times!

I’m surprised Markus included this shot because his foot is not in it. Thats on his list of photography pet peeves. The next photo I took of him included both his feet but I turned the camera 90 degrees for a portrait shot. I thought it was nice and I don’t know why it didn’t make the cut. Still pretty pretty though, excluded extremities aside.

Post safety briefing. Of note was don’t stand up under telephone wires and don’t turn on the barbecue when moving as it takes forever to cook anything. Absolutely do have an excellent time and be sure to enjoy the celebrity level reception shown by everyone along the way. London Double Decker -> Uzbekistan Highways, hell of a good time.

More nap times, glorious nap times.

Note the flag beside that gigantic engine. Its Aussie. Yes they are driving to Australia, planned arrival December 1st.

Beauty. Whole new perspective on Bulma.

Who was driving Bulma you have surely asked? Our fearless teammate Oliver. Normally a terrible backseat driver, he stepped up to the plate and killed it behind the wheel. Pictured is Rose, normally a member of Team Columbus, she elected to take advantage of Bulma’s delightful AC that day and escape the ruckus of a Shenlong plus hitchhikers invasion of Big Ben.

Pictured: A Seth in his natural state of being.

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