Taking it to Tashkent Uzbekistan

Tashkent Travel Blog

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Tashkent Uzbekistan

ANOTHER BUS

 

We returned to a travel agency to collect our passports from OVIR (internal cops) and it all checked out.  We then went to the long distance bus station and caught a bus that left at 8pm from Almaty to Tashkent.  The bus was a tired but modern-looking double-decker.  We sat up the front on the top deck, with a great view of everything and everyone. 

 

The road was pretty good and bitumen all the way, but got no sleep..

 

The bus terminated its journey not in Tashkent but rather at the Kazak border.

Tashkent Uzbekistan
  So you have to terminate your journey walk or catch a taxi to the nearby border crossing and through the hordes of money changers and other touts. 

 

LESSON LEARNT

 

We got stung here trying to change the little amount of Kazakstan Tenge - that's their dollars - we had left into Uzbek Som.  We went to a room and changed money but before we could check the massive amounts of notes we had been given, the money changer was walking away and never to be seen again.  My calculator also went missing, but we got that back.  As for the money changer, we put that down to experience and a few valuable lessons learnt.  Fortunately it was a lesson that only cost us about $8 AUD. We were both pissed off but not harmed in any way, just a bruised ego and dented pride. We may be a little more vigilant next time.  It is the first time in all the money changers that we had been ripped off and really the more you change money the more times you expose yourself to their temptation and opportunity. 

 

BORDER

 

We got stopped by a guy in uniform on the Kazak side and he wanted our passports and a cigarette.

  He smiled and let us on our way.  I think he only wanted to bum a smoke.

 

We stumbled further towards the border crossing, hungry, tired, thirsty and a little cranky with what we had gotten ourselves into a few moments earlier.  We found customs/immigration and they had no forms in English so we had this most annoying tout painfully explain the form to us and we completed it, only to be told we had to complete two forms. 

 

Forms and appropriate paperwork in hand we went through a series of buildings, got stopped and looked at, compared to the photo, x-rayed, and photographed again.  When the customs/immigration found out we were from Australia and not Austria, which has been a common mistake for most of the trip so far, they ask us about kangaroos, then Kylie Minogue and then Kostya Tzu (spelling unknown) the boxer who emigrated from RUSSIA to OZ.

Tashkent Uzbekistan
 

 

We got through safely and bartered for a taxi for the 20 klm trip into Tashkent, for 5000 som.  700 som equals  $ 1AUD.  We got taken to a hotel.  Here all we saw were hookers and cops.  We eventually decided it would be hazardous to remain here and that we may get into more trouble than we have money to get ourselves out of.  How is it we always locate the hotel with the hookers?? Next 2 hotels we tried to stay at were being renovated / demolished.  The Lonely Planet book we have has been so out of date it's not funny but hysterical.  We eventually rode around in a taxi stopping and getting advice in fluent Russian and Uzbek which our driver understood and eventually found us a hotel some hours later for about $20 AUD a night.  It's the cheapest we have seen and it comes with a/c and a Russian speaking 20 cm TV set.

 

Later in the day we were culturally sensitive enough to locate a corner shop that sold beer.

Tashkent Uzbekistan
  The store was outside a Muslim mosque.  So there we were in shorts and a t-shirt drinking beer on the steps on the shop mixing it up with all the local Uzbek Muslims all sporting the gold teeth that are so popular throughout Central Asia. Entire top and bottom rows of teeth  in solid gold.  We stood as a mark of respect when the call to prayer went out at about 6pm, I think.  Oh and I had to move my but to allow this old lady a passage through to the shop, I got the impression she wasn't to walk between the men and us talking, but had to go around.  Some cultural thing.....

 

Anyway we broke some ice and shot the breeze with them in our not so fluent Uzbek/Russian tongues.  Just our attempt at healing past wounds and building cultural bridges towards a more prosperous future.

 

Had a terrific sleep last night.

 

VISAS

 

Today has been a slightly hellish day attempting to get some transport from Uzbek to St Petersburg that isn't booked out - not easy.

 

Secondly, we haven't been overly successful in getting our China visa and as for the Russian visa we haven't got there yet, but we keep getting concerned looks from travel agents we speak to, and lots of head shaking.  The body language speaks volumes at times. 

 

At the Chinese embassy, they spoke absolutely no English and a little Russian.   My chinese isn't that  good either.   We kept getting our passports thrown back at us threw the little slot in the window for reasons that I will go into later. 

 So we got settled after finding a suitable establishment in which to stay  that cost a little more than what we were after ��" US $15 per night -   but it had air conditioning, a TV with local channels, en-suite that worked and it looked clean and sanitary, and the babushkas aka old Russian ladies on the desk looked mean but very accommodating after you broke through their steely  exterior, and not to forget their entire top and bottom rows of gold teeth straight out of an old James Bond flick.

Culture

Over the next couple of days we saw some of the local sights such as the Chorsu Market and attended local medressas and mosques which were just fabulous buildings and we had a guy show us people reading/studying from the Koran. Everybody was receptive of us hanging around in the medressas and quite friendly if not a little curious. 

Now we have to locate and enter the Russian consulate.  

 

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Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tashkent Uzbekistan
Tashkent
photo by: Deats