So I've been a bit quiet recently and there are good reasons for this!!
Barring some beautiful sites and people met along the way the real story starts when I get to Tashkent (a city that rivaled Bagdad in its prime).
When you stay in Uzbekistan you need to get a form called your registration filled in each day. If a hotel in Tashkent realises you don't have it they don't let you stay and call the police who slap you with a $1000 fine. I've been spending a lot of time in Chai Hanners (tea houses) and my tent. So bit nervous when looking for places to stay.
First hotel looks and gives me my passport back and tells me to leave. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, are all full. The next one lets me in and I'm celebrating in the shower when there's a knock at the door. "Mr bent? Problem". Here we go again. But no.....
My visa was only for 10 days!! I've been in the country for 19 already. That pretty much puts me in a very bad position. If the police catch me I'm in for all sorts of trouble - I'm illegally in the country. So first plan is to get off the street which is littered with bribe hungry policeman at the best of time. But no hotel will have me.
Luckily I have a Serpie contact on my side who just so happened to know the Russian Mafia. After a few calls we pull up a dark alley and a bear gets out of a car ("the Russian") and squeezes into the back of our Daewoo Matiz. We then drive to his safe house. 2 steel doors with numerous locks later and I'm in my home for the next 2days. It's a Palace.
Now how do i continue to stay inconspicuous in the Stans? That's it - get hammered on vodka and eat kebab. The people we met had been waiting for us for some time by now and vodka bottles littered the table. Several more were added and then we went dancing!!
Back at the safe house the following morning I sat for 5 hours scared to leave, eating yesterdays cold kebab left overs and coke, waiting for my friend to pick me up.
Maksud (Serpie contact - thanks Derek!!) picks me up on the second day and drove me through all the police checks in the city to the road I'd come in on and dropped me off. I just had 3 days and about 10 police posts and some big mountains to get through!!
3 days - 3 more chai hanners - it's only getting worse.
Mountains - fine and dandy. As ever attacked from the bottom and was wasted by the top!!
Police - no problems - they were too interested in having their pictures taken, playing my ukelele, asking for presents to pay attention to the passport. I even manged to hold onto the window of a police car whilst it dragged me up the hills. Just like in old mega drive games - I held down the fire button and blasted my way through with my finest smiles. But still there was the border - they have computers and all sorts - I was bound to be caught.
Massive crowds of both Uz's and Kyryg's trying to get through. They parted like the sea for Moses I was pushed to the front. The guards were ahead.
I turned on all the charms again.
Before I go on I need to mention that everyone in Uzbekistan thought I looked like wayne rooney!?!? "Come on - give me some credit here... please".
The guards were looking at the fine details of my passport - comparing them with the things on screne. Not looking happy. So I pulled the wild card out - and introduced myself in Russian as Wayne Rooney. Everyone laughed a lot and wanted to come and shake my hand. So the documents were stamped and given back to me with smiles!! :o)
- ▼ October (9)