segunda-feira, outubro 29, 2007

I didn't go to Uzbekistan, but Peter did!

Yes, Peter went to Uzbekistan and he sent me emails about some nice stories he experienced! Here are the two emails I found to be hilarious, plus the end of thye story!

Number 1:

I thought I should let you know that I'm booked for not one, but two Uzbekistan Airlines flights. The first is internal from Urgench to Tashkent. Then I'm flying from Tashkent to Istanbul. Both tickets are old-style, hand written and with a bunch of carbon copied pages.

Getting the second ticket was interesting. I went to the Uzbekistan Airlines office yesterday and asked about the flight. I got the information I needed and asked if there are a lot of seats still available. My Uzbek visa expires on the 26th so I asked for a flight on that day. I also had a travel agent looking into a Turkish Airlines flight, which was the only other possible flight for me. The lady said, "Oh yeah, lots of seats, no problem." I asked if I come the next day what are the chances that there would still be seats. She assured me not to worry, it was no problem. Well the Turkish Airlines flight fell through so this became the only flight I could take. I went back today and they told me there were no seats on any Uzbekistan Airlines flight to Istanbul until the 30th. This left me in a bad situation. Either I would have to skip Turkey altogether, or cut my stay in Uzbekistan short (I'm only here for 10 days to begin with) and fly to Ukraine a few days before since there were no flights there on the 26th. So I got angry and said "FUCK" probably a little louder than I expected to. Well it's a good thing I did. When the security guard heard me he asked what the problem was. I told him I can't seem to get out of the country in time because there are no seats available before my visa runs out. He told me to sit and wait a minute. He got on his mobile and called someone. A few minutes later someone called him back. He took me to the booth where you buy tickets. He explained something to the clerk, which I only partially understood. It was clear that they were up to something a little outside the rules. When I asked if they take credit card, the security guard took me to a little room. In a mixture of broken English and broken Russian we communicated. He said it's no problem to pay by credit card but "his portion" had to be paid in cash. Well I paid him $50, which seems like nothing considering the alternative. After I bought my ticket I asked him what he did to get me on that sold out flight. He just smiled and said "I help you". I don't know if he smiled because of his broken English or because he was hiding his little illegal manoeuvre. I'll never know but I left the office a happy guy.
Number 2:

Another day, another bribe. I got to the train station in Tashkent this morning just as the train was leaving for Samarkand. The guy on the train motioned to me that there's no time to buy a ticket just get on the train. It just started moving as I was stepping on. Once I got on he had me wait as he discussed with a few other guys. Then he came to me and asked for $10. I gave him 8 and that was ok. Never saw a ticket but I'm here in Samarkand now.

Samarkand is amazing. The mosques are so beautiful and the city feels unlike any place I've ever been. It was worth the wait for the visa. I'll be here another day then it's off to Bukhara for 3 and Khiva for 2 before I return to Tashkent for a day.

I bought another camera in Almaty the day after I lost the other one. There was no way of getting it back since it was in the back seat of a private cab. He was not affiliated with any company so I could never trace that guy down again. Well it turned out fine because the insurance company paid for the replacement. Not only that but things here are priced in American dollars, with the local currency's equivalent. I got a good deal on the camera. I've been using my Canadian dollar account on this trip. Just before getting to Kazakhstan the Canadian dollar surpassed the American. A Canadian dollar is now worth about $1.02 USD. Just a few years ago it was at $0.65.

Anyway, I can't wait to post pictures of Uzbekistan. It's a really cool place so far and I haven't been to Bukhara and Khiva yet. They're supposed to be really cool too.

I've been on your blog a couple of times. Looks like you had a really good time in Portugal. I just found out yesterday that my friends who live in Kyiv were there at the same time as you. They really loved it and are telling everyone to go.
Anyway, gotta go. The internet cafe is closing.


The end:

Yeah, you can post whatever you want on the blog (as long as you don't spread false rumours about me). I'm thankful I don't really have any yen left. THe only thing will me my pension money, whenever that comes in. Well, I thought Samarkand was amazing...I liked Bukhara even more. And I love the people here. They're very kind, polite but also very outgoing and fun to talk to. THe food is great too.I'll be posting lots of pictures, don't worry. I'm just as excited to post them as you are to see them. But it'll have to wait a while. I'll miss my flight four days from today if I start posting them now. The internet connections suck in Uzbekistan. I'm lucky I found this place but it's quite a walk from the city centre where I'm staying. I'll probably post them from my friends' place in Ukraine. I'm going to Khiva tomorrow morning and looking forward to it.I hope Oita's treating you well.

I loved all this. It's so what I think Uzbekistan and other countries alike are.

But, yes, the Istanbul flight was packed, although 9 hours late, Peter later told me!

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