There’s no way i can ride the bike today, i feel like i’m not far short of needing to go to hospital. In desperation i ask the hotel if they have a better room, and remarkably they do, with air conditioning and without the godawful stench. I wish we’d been in it from the start, instead of the fetid squalour of the room we have been in. The air con starts to cool me down and rescues me from what was probably quite severe heat stroke brought on by the food poisoning. I catch sight of myself in the mirror and am shocked to see that with the beard and the effects of 3 days vomiting and diarrhea i’m so gaunt i look like i’ve just come out of a prisoner of war camp. Everything i drink, so far i haven’t eaten, still just pours straight through, but if i can sleep tonight there’s a good chance i can get back on the bike and head off through the desert towards Bukhara tomorrow. I’m hoping that the terrain isn’t so harsh as what we’ve just come through, and that the river on the map actually has water in it and might offer a chance to cool down if i start overheating again. God knows what i’ve eaten to put me in such a bad state, or how the locals tolerate it. I hope this doesn’t happen again. As i lie here watching the same songs loop round on an italian music tv channel, which is slightly more watchable than any of the russian or uzbek stuff, I find myself craving a peanutbutter sandwich. The only food we could find locally that wasn’t left out in the open, unrefrigerated and with flies buzzing around, was pretty much limited to a packet of crisps. The italian music channel selects james blunt as the next track, and suddenly i’d rather be watching the bad russian soap.
The hotel is grim, but i’m mostly just lying on the bed, swatting away flies and trying to keep cool. The plan had been to ride up to the aral sea, but with dave ill, of very ill, and realising how hard it is to ride in this heat in the desert, we scrap the plan in favour of trying to get well. Dave gets bitten by a thousand insects, i seem to escape. I exchange a few left over euros at the bank and end up with 134000 of the local currency. Apart from feeling pretty rotten, the day slips by without much happening. That night, the illness kicks in again, and i spend a dreadful night, burning up, permanently on the loo, unable to keep anything down or in, and pouring cold water from the shower over myself trying to keep cool. By morning i feel worse than ever.