Behind the seven borders is Tashkent (UZ 1/6)

The bus to Tashkent wasn’t even half full when we left Bishkek’s
Western bus station at 23.30 on a rainy Sunday night. I was on my way to finally visit Uzbekistan. Since the beginning of this year EU citizens get to enter without visa.

During the night we first crossed the border into Kazakhstan, passed Taraz and Shymkent and then crossed another border into Uzbekistan.

People used to drive this same route to get to Osh. Today they prefer to driver over a 3000m pass because of the borders and because they don’t want to get stopped by foreign police.

We arrived at the Tashkent bus station at 10.00 in the morning. Or at 11. Apparently there’s an hour time difference with Kyrgyzstan so I wasn’t exactly sure.

I immediatley went to a small booth to buy a ticket back to Bishkek.

Not because Tashkent put me off that quickly. Friends had been here a week before and told me it was best to pre-book. Waiting for my turn to talk to the lady with the gold teeth selling the tickets I realized
people in Uzbekistan didn’t know what a queue was.

In Kyrgzstan people know them but sometimes can’t help themselves and ignore this knowledge. In Uzbekistan people had either never known or given up on them.

The trick was, I discovered, to start shouting at the woman before she had finished writing up the ticket for the customer before me. That worked.

I walked to the metro. It looked like a regular Russian metro, not over-sized and unused like in Almaty. Some stations werebeautifully decorated like in Moscow, but I was too tired to look at them much.

My friends had also warned me of the unusally grumpiness of the women selling tickets at the train station. Therefore slightly nervous I asked for a ticket to Samarkand, in two days, at one of the counters. The lady took my passport and wrote something down. While she did so a man, using the tactic I had learned shortly before, moved in front of me and asked her something.

“I’m on lunch break now,” she said, handed me my ticket and left the counter.

I had gotten two tickets in less than an hour and could now walk to my hostel. I never arrived in any country as easily as in Uzbekistan.