A fond farewell to Uzbekistan

Bukhara Travel Blog

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People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

It was 21.40 by the time that our bus finally trundled into Bukhara. Left in the pitch black somewhere on the outskirts of the town, we were at the mercy of the taxi sharks. At times like these, its a battle of wits, with the driver setting stupidly high prices, whilst you threaten to walk, all be it 5 kilometres on this occasion. Its always a case of who can call the others bluff the best and on this occasion, we opted to pick up the bags and pretend to start walking, when he finally brought his price down to a reasonable level, which we were all satisfied with.

The taxi dropped us off at the same hotel that we had stayed at last time, and once again it was time for another game of 'call my bluff'.

After offering us the room for $30, then $28, we picked up our bags to make a move, and this sent the price tumbling to $20, which was what we had paid last time, although we had to agree to pay extra for breakfast.

We had hoped to reach Bukhara before 20.00, so we could go out for Dinner with Sylvia and Maida, who arrived the day before. It was now 22.00, but we decided to see if they were still sat around Lyabi-Hauz Pond, but sadly they weren't. The town was already pretty deserted, which made it perfect to go on a late night stroll to see it whilst it was lit up. I love walking around places in the middle of the night, its like discovering a new city from the one that you see in the day.

Mir-i-Arab Medressa and the surrounding square once again took my breath away, and we spent quite some time marveling at the structures and playing with a little puppy, which had taken a shine to Julia.
We returned to the hotel a little after 23.00 and had a rather restless night, as mosquitoes were out in force and thirsting for blood.

On Saturday morning we ate a hearty breakfast, before attempting to get a marshrutka to the bazaar. For some reason the number 86 had various routes and the drivers kept gesticulating as they passed, but none of them would stop, even though locals said we were in the right place! After some time we gave in and flagged a taxi down. At the bazaar a host of taxi drivers were waiting to pounce on us to take us to Olot, a town near the Turkmenistan border. Prices began at 30,000 Sum ($22), but we played the waiting game and finally paid 3,000 Sum ($2.20) each. Its incredible what discounts you get if you try.

Our last real challenge in Uzbekistan came with getting a taxi to the border, which Lousy Planet said was only 7km away, even though it turned out to be 20kms.
On the basis that we had travelled 60kms in the last taxi, we figured this journey couldn't possibly cost more than a dollar. Two local women were also trying to get a taxi to the border and started telling us to pay 3,000 Sum ($2.20) each and then we could leave. After refusing they kept asking what the problem was and that we should just pay. A few minutes later, they said the price was actually $3 each, which is 4,100 Sum. We had had enough of listening to their lies, so walked up the road to try and flag another car down.

A few minutes passed before a fat Uzbek guy pulled up and offered us the whole car for $5, but we said we would only pay $1 per seat, so $4. Suddenly the first taxi driver turned up again and said he would now take us for $1 each, which got the fat guy really worked up, to the stage where they were pushing each other and wrestling for my bag.
Bundled into the first taxi drivers car with the two women, we set off, only to get told that we had to pay whatever the women were paying. We told the driver we had agreed on the price, so there was no way we were paying more. Arriving at the border, the driver wouldn't give us our bags unless we paid him $1.50 each, but on principle there was no way that we were paying more than we had agreed on. Some heated words were exchanged and eventually another taxi driver came over and made the guy give us our bags back.

It was midday and the sun was pounding down on the desert that surrounded us, but we now had to walk 2kms across a no mans land to the Uzbek immigration post. The guards were all friendly, although the process to pass through customs and immigration seemed to take forever. I passed out of the country having enjoyed both the sites and the people and in my opinion the country had proved to be the best value for money within Central Asia.

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photo by: Vlindeke