Riding the Silk Road, 2002-2009)

Riding the Silk Road, 2002-2009)
Where it all began: Xian, May 2002

Monday, November 02, 2009

Silk Road Bike-u Haiku

For those of you who have actual poetic talent, İ apologize. For the rest of you, İ hope you enjoy this poetic overview of this bicycle journey expressed in the form of a series of haiku. Matsuo Basho is doubtless turning over in his grave.



Buying ink brushes
Paying respects to Xuan Zang
Leaving from Xian

Chinese emperors
Lie in vast mausolea
Dead and forgotten

Buddhist cave temples
Honeycomb arid hillsides
Silk Road's eastern end

Cycling through cold mist
Tracing Gansu Corridor
Camped beside Great Wall

Homicidal bees
Pursue me across desert
Anxi oasis

Hot dry hurricanes
Dessicate a roadside corpse
Crossing the Gobi

Travel companions
Across the Taklamakan
Swift-riding Uighurs

Beziklik, Dunhuang
Frescoes adorn rock-hewn caves
Trail of spreading faith

Blazing heat hammers
Tourists in Gaochang, Turfan
Beer under grape vines

Pain spreads slowly through
Swelling joints in Urumqi
Journey suspended



Return to deathbed
In rain-lashed grey Urumqi
Two long years later

Otherworldly blue
Propelled by gale-force tailwinds
Leaving Sayram Lake


Welcoming shepherds
As I ride across bleak steppe
Cold early springtime


Farcical frontier
Drawn across boggy valley
Of Scythian tombs

Warm sunshine lights up
Ancient rock-carved hunting scenes
Of Lake Issyk Kol

Mountain passes loom
Aching muscles climb all day
Cycling with Pushkin

Kebabs, beer, bread, borshcht
Filling my empty stomach
Chaikhana in Osh

Fast-moving blizzard
Freezes us on mountainside
Revived in warm yurt

Under Pamir peaks
Detained by bribe-seeking guards
Saved by football match


Dead yaks mark border
High desert home to slaughtered
Marco Polo sheep

Lenin's statue stands
Above power-line fores
Rain-drenched Murghab town

Source of the Oxus
Defended by flood ramparts
We retreat, muddy

Cold rainy grasslands
Kyrgyz herders shelter us
Crossing the Pamirs

Along Afghan frontier
Hindu Kush towers above
We pedal hungry

Guest of expats
I eat, rest, eat, rest and eat
Break in Dushanbe

Alpine scenery
Crossing the Fan Mountains
Farewell dear Tajiks


Stung at border
Cheated times uncountable
Uzbeks rip me off

Floating dream-like blue
Above ancient mud brick domes
Samarkand awes me

Antique minaret
Glowers over timeless town
Gorgeous Bukhara

Ghostly empty streets
Open air museum town
Deserted Khiva


Golden statues stand
In soulless dusty towns
Damn Turkmenbashi

Heat like sledge hammers
Mongol-ruined cityscape
Camping inside Merv


Vodka and cherry
Homemade wine, date palm liqueur
Life in dry Iran

Carpets and pilgrims
Line streets beneath golden dome
Two days in Meshhad

That once housed Marco Polo
My nighttime shelter

Flawless lines rise up
To a rocket-like apex
Gonbad e Kavus

Two day summit dash
Scotch on peak, hot springs after
Climbing Damavand

Endless traffic jam
Leads into smog-choked Tehran
My time has run out



Smiles of real welcome
Curious conversations
Welcome to Iran

Sweating through dust haze
Battling traffic lunacy
I dream of water

Cold drinks on roadside
Picnics, dinners, veggies, fruit

Heineken and Scotch
Saadi's graveside poetry
Shiraz in summer

Persian capital
Tombs of long-dead emperors
Persepolis pomp

Tiles shimmer in sun
Mud brick towers, minarets
Esfahan wonder

Assassin castles
Lakeside picnics and swimming
Cycling the Elborz

Dashing cross the steppe
I spot a huge manmade shape
Soltaniyeh's dome

Torrential rainstorms
Kneedeep litter beside road
Caspian seashore


Water fountain burns
Gazelles frolic, headwinds howl
Riding to Baku

Oasis of ease
In Art Deco cityscape:
Hostess Natalya

Waves of green hills rise
Higher than the eye can see
Rainy Xinaliq

Returning from the hills
Slope and wind co-operate
Flying Baku-wards

Seki exudes charm
Kish village breathes history
Pedal self-destructs

Like a bad conscience
Huge faces loom by roadside
Cult of Iliev


Rolling through vineyards
Past fortresses and castles
Kakheti charms me

Climbing to the sky
A sweat-soaked muddy goat track
The Abano Pass

Wine, khinkali, song
Horse-riding, mountain biking
Tusheti idyll

Good-humoured people
In historic countryside
Georgia's on my mind

Rushing stream waters
Orchards, meadows, village greens
Khevsureti jaunt

Towering ice peak
Backdrop for mountain freedom
Kazbegi sidetrip

Forty-first birthday
In Tbilisi old town
Cyclists' rendezvous

Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh

Deserted churches
Sport intricate stone carving
Armenian soul

Soviet greyness
Blights church-studded valleyscape
Debed Canyon ride

Like desert roses
Beautiful women light up
Ugly Yerevan

Dancing teenagers
Greek temple adorns bleak slopes
Geghard and Garni

Fruit and veg harvest
Ararat looms in background
Fleeing Yerevan

Roller coaster ride
Karahundj stones salute sky
Cycling through cold rain

Forested mountains
Soaked in blood of civil war
Remote Karabakh

Snow line creeps downhill
Industrial wastelands pass
Farewell Hayastan

Georgia (reprise)

Mud road to nowhere
Frozen forgotten highlands
Vardzia appears


Fall colours glowing
Highlight volcanic landscape
On the road to Kars

Earthquake-shattered scene
Half-standing churches teeter
By Ani's chasm

Sneering begging brats
Hurl stones and bid dogs attack
True Kurdish welcome

Urartu fortress
Ancient temple hieroglyphs
Dust of history

Magic citadel
Old bridge, graceful minaret
Poor doomed Hasankeyf

Byzantine steeples
Where now few Christians live
Scenic Tur Abdin


Comfortingly dull
Smiles of genuine welcome
Iraqi detour

Turkey (reprise)

Desert blooms cotton
Trucks thunder across lowlands
I near journey's end

Temples of the moon
Harran's eternal story
Lost limestone hamlets

Modern city growls
Around baklava cafes
Antep's mosaics

Ancient Antioch
Leaves little to be seen now
But Roman tilework

Armenian ruins
Hgih-perching castles look down
Cilician plain

Lightning and hailstorm
Herald my victory lap
Venetian Ayas

Watching rain pour down
Remembering journey highlights
Melancholic joy

1 comment:

  1. Have you tried dumplings and roast ducks? They are the famous and traditional Beijing dieshes. And also bird's nest soup? Its a delicacy in China.

    Enjoy your days~~~