Posts tagged Uzbekistan
Posts tagged Uzbekistan
My first ever published article!! It is a short piece about the relations between Uzbekistan and its neighbours based on the border crossing. Enjoy!
I won’t lie, the majority of the rest of my time in Baku makes dull reading so I will be as concise as possible. Just assume we frantically ran around for most of the time trying to avoid overstaying my welcome in Azerbaijan and getting me deported. 70 per cent of this was bureaucratic and infuriating.
After meeting Nathan we went for dinner at Mehmet’s flat (Nathan’s Turkish Couch Surfing host who he had met in Istanbul). The next day we created plan of action before going to the gun shop to play with guns. The trip to fire mountain trip with Mehmet was cancelled that night as a result of heinous amounts of snow, as was my meet-up with Nasser (my friend who picked me up at Gobustan when I was in trouble). The day after, the Visa mayhem began.
In the morning, we went to the bank to pay for Nathan’s Uzbek Visa and then to try to find information on any potential ferries to Kazakhstan in an attempt to stay on the surface of the earth, despite Turkmenistan’s best efforts to stop that happening. They told us that there wasn’t one available. Went to big terminal and asked. They sent us to the Azpetrol port to investigate whether we could get on an oil tanker. There was initially confusion but we were eventually given number of a woman by the name of Victorya. She told us it is possible but had no idea when it left. She Told us to ring back the following day. We grabbed a Lada taxi to the Kazakh Embassy where we were rejected and told to come back tomorrow. There was a very irritating theme developing.
Quite frankly, the next morning was shit. I….
· Lost $600 (But thankfully, it showed up later that day)
· Got lost on the metro
· Got lost for two hours looking for Mehmet’s flat and got involved in a fiasco including the entire staff of a corner shop, the police, an impromptu taxi with seedy litterbug who was quite obviously ruined and couldn’t drive anyway who tried to take me to British consulate for no reason at all. Communication with this man was impossible since he was illiterate and couldn’t read maps. Eventually used a photo I had to get to the flat block.
· Nathan was gone
· Went to Kazakh embassy to find him, but he had left to try and find me in the hostel in the old city. I began to develop some abandonment issues.
I did however manage to successfully apply for Kazakh and Kyrgyz visas in the Kazakh embassy with some persuasion. Nathan and I went back to Mehmet’s before going to some of his friends’ place for pancake day and chatting with a bunch of Brits who had all wound up in Baku for various reasons (usually oil).
The following day we rang Victorya. She still didn’t know when the boat was going to leave and told us to ring back the next day. Again.
We went to the Uzbek embassy and I got my Visa but Nathan was left waiting. We walked to the Tajik embassy and filled out their application. On the way back, we played with life-size human cardboard cut-out before moving my gear from the Caspian Hostel in the old city a couple of Kilometres to Ali’s. Ali lived in a totally awesome climbing centre.
The following morning we rang Victorya who we were starting to develop a strange phone relationship with. We speculated that she sounded like a Russian call-girl. She didn’t know up from down regarding the boat and asked to ring back tomorrow. Again.
The next day Nathan moved into Ali’s from Mehmet’s. We walked to the Uzbek embassy and I winged all the way. Nathan got his Visa. We phoned Victorya from the Uzbek embassy where we got the official there to talk to her in Russian and translate for us. She wanted us to go and get a ticket from the Azpetrol port in 24 hours. Finally some progress.
Nathan and I spent the afternoon dossing around and eating Lakmacun, casually forgetting to pay my, all important, Kazakh Visa fees. On returning to Ali’s, we were required to clear up floodwater below the climbing wall from what used to be a swimming pool, and was a brothel before that. We were allowed a free go on the climbing wall for our help. I climbed in PJ’s, my helmet and my sunglasses. Then smashed my shin on a bench after trying to do a pull-up on a wooden strut. At least I looked good doing it.
The Friday quickly descended into chaos. We went to the bank to pay my Kazakh/Kyrgyz Visa fees then walked to the Tajik embassy before being rejected until a later time yet again. It then took a Bus-walk-bus combo in order to get to the Azpetrol port where we were to get our boat ticket. Of course when we got there and asked, no one knew who we were or what we wanted. We called Victorya who said she would come in person to iron out the creases within 20 minutes. Sticky Vicky showed up 2 hours later, without so much as an apology. We successfully got tickets for $80 each. Vicky told us there was a chance the boat would leave later that day and to ring back at 7pm.
Over the phone, the Tajik embassy said the Visas would be ready for the Monday. That was no good for us, we would be gone. We pleaded with them to force it through. Thankfully they agreed. We headed to the Tajik embassy yet again and were told to wait in the conference room for 20 minutes while they stamped a bit of paper. Somehow that took an hour. I was asleep and drooling on the conference table. Nathan, having just woke up himself, punched me into life.
We rang Victorya at 7, who told us the ferry was the next day at 5pm. We headed home to chill with Ali, picking up supplies on the way.
Waking up, we packed and relaxed. Leaving Ali was a shame as him and his place were awesome (www.greenrock.az). If you are ever in Baku and fancy a climb or a cool guy to meet with, talk to him.
After loading up we cycled to the port. Despite having all the proper documentation, we were then subjected to 2 hours of bureaucratic bullshit. No surprise. We got on boat, had our passports taken and were very uncomfortable with the whole process. The boat was, of course, delayed 4 hours and left at 9pm. Realising this whole thing could take a while, I started reading George Orwell’s “1984”.
Oh, and more-or-less-everyone on the boat was a Turkish truck-driver. Coooooool.