Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Three countries, one day, the journey continues!

Dear highly devoted reader,

You find your intreped traveller (ie me) in Bukhara, Uzbeksitan. Since I last blogged I have travelled, by land, over 1500km. So yes, that's some travelling!
I left Karakol on Saturday morning, the 11th of June 2011. Twas a warm morning to make the trek along Lake Issyk Kol back to Bishkek. The mini van sped along the road I had previously taken in the other direction until arriving in Bishkek late afternoon.
Journey One, done!
Sleeping in Bishkek proved a challenge and a half. For starters, there was a bit of a party going on. Secondly, the room was too hot to sleep in unless I left the window open. Thirdly, dogs were a-barking like it was a full moon or something. It wasn't. The window open meant lots of noise, closed and I was sweating like crazy!

That said, I managed 5-6 hours, and in the morn headed to the mini-bus station where I found me a steed to go forth to a place called Taraz in Kazakhstan. To get to Uzbekistan, the easiest way was through Kazakhstan, although no direct options exist at present. Luckily I had a double-entry Kazakh visa - I planned ahead!
The little mini-van was hot, and is custom in these parts windows are just not opened, so it means hot and stuffy all the way. The border crossing was simple and efficient thankfully. We sped on and arrived in Taraz at 3 pm or so.
I was swiftly shifted from one taxi to another. We were off through the steppe again towards Shymkent. A rural area of Kazakhstan, full of animals who seem to know no fear of vehicles, wondering out onto the road whenever they like.

The occasional radar and speed camera also in Kazakhstan as we skirted the southern border. I met a great guy in this shared taxi ride, his name is Sergey and he would help me across the border. We were both going in the same direction - to Tashkent!
So in Shymkent we were able to share a taxi to the border of Uzbekistan. I had heard that Uzbek border officials can be pushy, ask for bribes or hold you up for hours. I can't say I had an issue, although the customs form was only in Russian and Uzbek, and without Sergey it would have taken me a long time!

We sped into Tashkent, Uzbekistan was the third country of the day. It was around 8pm, although Uzbekistan is an hour behind Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan, so it had taken around 12 hours all up. I then had a free place and great hospitality for the night, Sergey invited me to stay the night there. I have NEVER depended on the kindness of strangers, but it's a great thing.

And today I took the fast train another 550km or so to Bukhara. I am now in a cross between the Middle East, Pakistan and Russia. I took the train - 7 hours or so, and stiflingly hot in there here. It was around 40 degrees today.
So that's a lot of travelling, a lot of kilometres. Tomorrow I get to see some sights!

Finally, a quick apology - not able to load pics here, I will try a different internet cafe next time, hopefully with more luck!

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