Getting caught in an earthquake and been F++ked over at the embassy - AGAIN
Tashkent Travel Blog› entry 381 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)
Sleepy eyed we exited the overnight train at 06.00, having had the guard wake us up at 04.30, telling us that we were nearly there and to get our belongings together. This really pissed me off, i mean how long can it take to get ready to disembark and after all, the train even terminated in Tashkent! The train station Hotel didn't have any rooms available until 09.00, so we dumped our bags in the left luggage (300 Sum - $0.20) and wandered around for a while. When we returned to check in, we were delighted that we had Room 33 again, which was the lux suite that we had stayed in the last time.
Having taken a quick shower, we jumped in a taxi and headed to the Iranian Embassy. It only took a few seconds to hand over our passports, which we had to collect the following afternoon, then we were back in a taxi to the train station, where we got some much needed sleep. Having woken up just after noon, the sensible option was to head to our favourite little Armenian restaurant for lunch. The lovely waitress was delighted to see us and said that they had missed us over the last few days, but she was pleased that we were back again. The rest of the day was spent pottering around, using the internet and catching up on World affairs via the BBC news.
On Thursday we went for lunch at Chorsu bazaar, after which we had a look at the nearby Juma (Friday) Mosque and Kulkedash Medressa.
Khast Imom is technically the religious centre of Uzbekistan, although it seemed too deserted to hold such a title when we visited. It was a rather impressive complex though, housing the Moyie Mubarek Library Museum, which contains the World's oldest Quran (allegedly). I'm normally quite up for seeing things that claim such titles as oldest, highest, longest, biggest etc etc, but on this occasion i really didn't have any desire to take a peek. The rest of the complex contained an array of dazzling mosques, medressa's and two colossal minarets.
At 16.30 we went to collect our Iranian visas and even though we were the only people present and had been told that they would be ready at 17.00, we were kept waiting until nearly 19.00 for no apparent reason. It had been a horribly frustrating visa to obtain, right until the last moment and it was a relief to finally have it stuck inside the passport. After Dinner at the Armenian cafe, we used the internet for a few hours and at 00.00 went to write our names on the waiting list at the Turkmenistan Embassy, for the following day. Even though you are supposedly not even allowed to write your name down until 07.00, we were already number eight on the list!
On Friday we got to the Turkmenistan Embassy at 11.00, but the lazy gits didn't open until 11.
At 17.00 we returned to the Embassy to collect our passports and met William here again. The Westerners were left until the very end as usual and we didn't get to enter the office until 19.
On top of this the Iranian visa was written in Farsi, which we couldn't read and we thought that the visa had an entry point on. Thus, if the Turkmenistan visa made us cross somewhere else, then maybe we couldn't enter Iran, making $500 of visas null and void! Equally shocking was the discovery that William's exit point was also to Iran, even though he wanted to go to Azerbaijan! As he was American, he would need a tour for Iran and he didn't even want to go there anyway!
We pleaded for the clerk to change them, but he was too concerned about going home for the weekend.
On Saturday morning we got to the Embassy at 09.30, as agreed, only to find the guy we were supposed to be meeting pulling away in a car. He told us he'd be back and was gone. We sat waiting, which was becoming an all too familiar habit of ours, expecting William to turn up at any moment. As time passed by, i started to get the feeling that maybe the guy had left because he had seen William and thought we weren't coming, but this seemed hard to believe, as we all agreed to be there at 09.
Julia ended up asking the guard if he had seen William, to which he replied that he had, as he had come earlier, sorted his stuff and left. Not only were the embassies screwing us, but now even our fellow travellers were. What really pissed me off is William spoke no Russian, so Julia had translated for him, we had let him push in front of us and he hadn't even realised his visa was wrong until I showed him. The night before whilst we had eaten Dinner together, he kept saying about wanting to be first to get his visa changed, even though we were told to come together and he had agreed this was fair.
At 11.00 the guy returned in his car and told us he was no longer working, as we should have come with our 'friend' all together.
The rest of our weekend was spent moping around the City, watching BBC News, eating at the Armenian restaurant and wanting to pull my hair out. Because we were made to hang around, this meant we missed out on going to the Fergana Valley.
On Monday morning we returned to the Turkmenistan Embassy at 09.00, for what we hoped would be the last time, but then got told that we couldn't see anyone until 11.00! When finally we did get to see the clerk at 11.30, he was thoroughly ignorant and said it wasn't his problem and it was Ashgabat that had set the visa and that they no longer gave visas exiting through Ashgabat. We knew this was a lie, as they had messed up Williams visa and issued it to exit through this point. They had also asked us on the evening that we picked up our visa, on what day we wanted it issued from and until, thus the visa was typed up that evening and not in Ashgabat. Also the clerk said that he was sure that he had typed it on the visa that we left through Ashgabat, which proved that it was possible to exit through here.
Our options were exhausted, the horrible useless bastards in the Embassy were clearly going to do nothing to help us, so we were left with a Turkmenistan visa that would not enable us to see any of the places that we wanted. More worrying was the possibility that our Iranian visa had the wrong entry point, which would mean getting refused entry to the country and been stuck in no mans land between the two countries! Oh how wonderful, this had to be among the lowest points of the trip so far. I'm normally a very placid person, but i was raging with anger about the whole diabolical processes of the Iranian and Turkmenistan Embassies, who had managed to trap us in Tashkent for 15 days in total and diminish the experience that we were having in Uzbekistan.
That evening we caught a train to Khiva in the West of Uzbekistan, in a state of confusion about what the next few weeks, or even months, may have in store for us.