As many other “-stan” countries Uzbekistan celebrates 25 years of independence.
Jamal the cow shepherd talks to us at our lunch picnic. He knows a few German words, but the conversation is still only basic. Where are you from? All the way by bicycle? How long?
In the evening we ask for a supermarket and then for a hotel in a small village. One older man says something (only in Russian) like we can come to his house. He says it’s 4 km back on a smaller road. He takes the minibus and we cycle. We are very tired, the road is bumpy and slightly uphill, in the end his house is 8 km far away.
The house is quite cold and there is no electricity. But then it starts raining and we are happy that we took the detour to his house. We get çay and food. Surprisingly we hear a voice and a person appears out of the dark. “Grüßt euch! Ich bin Bachrom! Wie kann ich euch helfen?”
Wow, someone speaking almost perfect German in one of the last houses in this small village. He lived and studied in Germany for 5 years, his parents come from the neighboring village and our host, Anakol invited him to translate a little bit.
The next morning me and our hosts look at the map, to find the best way to Tashkent.
Highlight of to day. We cross a bridge over the railway and eat an apple while the train passes by.
The rest of the day was just boring riding on a big road. Just straight ahead and flat. No change of the cold cloudy weather and no change of the landscape.
In the evening again same situation, there is no big city to find a hotel and no good place to set up our tent. We end up in a poor small village, hosted by lovely children taking care about us. Standard for Uzbekistan: Not always electricity. If you are lucky 1 or 2 hours after sunset it works. Pit toilet far away in the corner of the yard. No running water.
After two cold days and two nights staying in houses of local people we look forward to a private relaxed night in a hotel. At sunset we arrive in Novy-Chinoz at a big hotel next to the road. I go inside and ask for the price and give our passports to the woman at the reception. I give her our registrations from Bukhara and Samarkand. She is very unfriendly and says we can not stay. What the hell!? We get very angry, but it doesn’t help. It’s dark outside. This situation is very unpleasant.
But this woman is so strict. We can’t do anything, we put on our reflective vests and headlamps, cycle to Chinaz and try to find another hotel. Impossible. We ask bread sellers at the street but there is no hotel. One offers to come to his house. Our first impression of him is not the best, maybe he took some drugs, but we don’t have a choice. We walk a dark road, we are a bit scared, a group of young men appears, but they just want to take a pictures and go their way. We enter the yard and inside the small house of his mother, her son and grandmother we get food immediately. They say, we shall put the bicycles inside the house. The old grandmother is sick, smells very bad and coughs the whole night, to me it really sounds as if she dies. At five in the morning the night ends, we leave as fast as possible, afraid to get sick.
It’s freaking cold outside, 0 degrees and still one hour left until the sun rises. We try to find a café but it’s impossible at this time of the day.
Sure we were lucky to have a safe place to sleep, but this was one of the worst nights we had, just because the fucking registration and the stupid woman of the hotel.
Very late we find a kind of a café, where we can warm up. In these ovens they bake ‘somsa’ almost everywhere. Most time they are filled with meat, sometimes with potato or pumpkin.
The problem in Uzbekistan is, that you have to register every night in a hotel or hostel (officially). Not everyone cares about it though. No one at the border tells you and at the German foreign affairs homepage (www.auswertiges-amt.de) they just write you should register at the latest after three days. As we didn’t stay in a hotel (it wasn’t possible at all) in those two nights, the reception woman was just incredibly awful and didn’t give us a registration and we couldn’t stay.
The unofficial and much more practical version is, that if you change the town you have three days to register in the next hotel/hostel. The registration is more or less just a piece of paper with entry/exit date and a stamp of the hostel.
The story about all and nothing is, that in the end no one at the border asked for our registrations. And we just pass without showing our registration papers.
To be one the safe side, we easily change the date of our small registration papers of the hostel in Samarkand. This small trick is necessary and guarantees us that we aren’t rejected at the Topchan hostel in Tashkent.
A nice church and random people near the hostel.
In the Topchan hostel there are two more Surly bicycles. They belong to a US-UK couple who travel on and off around the world in parts.
At the Chinese embassy we ask, if we can apply for a visa, but as we already know, it’s only possible for Uzbek citizens. Too bad!
After one night in the hostel, because of registration reasons, we move to our friend Bachrom. We have a good time together and he and his friends show us around in Tashkent.
The eternal flame. You’ll find it in every Ex-Soviet city.
This building is the library. I don’t like the Soviet architecture.
In the end we find one nice place in Tashkent. A park next to the river. We have a ‘somsa‘ picnic.
The next day we leave Uzbekistan and cycle over the boarder to Kasachstan.