Crossing Central Asia

The route of the Abandoned Roads Expedition starts in the Rhodopi Mountains and stretches all the way to Pamir in Central Asia, passing through Turkey, Georgia, the Russian republics of North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan and Kalmykia, then onwards across Western Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan, Kirgizstan – more than 10,000 kilometres by bike. For 157 days Philip Lhamsuren abides by the most basic of natural laws – the universal law of motion, crossing stark deserts and mountains, lonely steppes and wide rivers only a stone throw’s away from the conflict zones of North Caucasus, where the authorities suspect him of sabotage. He sleeps on the bone-dry bed of the Aral Sea, wakes up in the company of snakes and feels the sting of scorpions. He casts his fishing line in the delta of the Volga amidst clouds of mosquitoes and survives on rabbits and marmots caught in the steppes. He suffers a sever bout of illness in the harsh Pamirian wilderness. Along the way he receives offers of marriage, propositions for a new life in the mountains, job offers and invitations to convert to Islam but he never wavers and each morning the sun finds him in a different place.