Day 15: 6th June, 2012 : Sarhand Border to Samarkand, Uz-bekistan

Crossing Border between Tajikistan & Uzbekistan

Yesterday, I got another taxi for ‘Sarhad’.  It was not near.  It took almost 2 hrs to pass through plain and hill across, small villages and some cultivation to reach ‘Sarhad’ the border at “Tavsanzade”.  The two Uzbek women in the taxi were also going to Samarkand.  One was comparatively young but tall and very fat.  As soon as I got down the taxi, many people with wards of Uzbek money of 1000 denomination notes came.  They wanted to exchange dollars.  They were giving Som 2820 to a dollar.
Last night the Australian told me that it is 2800 to a dollar.  I had 151 Tajik Som and exchanged it to 75,000 Uzbek money Net exchanged dollars.  Then I walked with packsack with the gate.  My passport was checked.  Again walk further.  Another 50 minutes or so I entered immigration office.  The officers saw me and said Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachan, Shahrukh Khan, Prity Zinta, Indian actors and actresses name which are very common with everyone.  This facilitated my immigration and customs also First immigration Officer wanted a form where I have stayed in Tajikistan etc.  but were not processing.  After a few minutes check on computer they stamped the exit.  Stamp on visa.  Then entered another building of Tajik Customs.  Here again name of all the actors were repeated.  The backpackers were X-rayed and partially opened to see the chargers which I am still carrying in the hope that I will get back my things.  Now I entered ‘No man land’ and then Uzbek border.  Same check of passport at the gate and then entering Immigration which was smooth and efficient.   Now comes the Uzbek customs.  There was a large crowd of mostly women who were going to Uzbekistan.  The custom form was in Russian.  Fortunately one person come and filled two forms in duplicate for me.  He got the details from my passport.  I signed the form and then stood at the entrance gate  of Red Channel.  In fact everyone has to go through this channel.

On the way to  Samarkand, Uzbekistan
After 10 minutes wait, I was called by the Custom Officer.  He again repeated names of Indian Actors particularly Raj Kapoor.  After initial check, he now get all things out from the packsack.  He was particularly interested in medicines.  I told him that same are for diabetic.  His mother is also diabetic.  He wanted to know which medicines I am taking.  Then asked me to pack everything.  I told him these medicines may not be available here.  He only knew insulin.  
Now  I walked out again 50 minutes walk.  I found an open and partly covered restaurant.  5-6 persons were pestering to go with them to Samarkand.  I fixed up with one for 50,000 Uzbek Som.  I had tea and bread and then sat in wait for two women who were going to Samarkand and sitting with me in ‘Sarhad’ taxi.  In fact, I found there was too way, one was to go to ‘Denov’ in 10 dollars (25,000) and then take another Taxi for Samarkand for ?  money.  I preferred to go in one taxi from the Border.  It was better.  Now after 2 hrs wait, 2 more passengers came ‘an old couple’ for Samarkand.  Those women did not come.  Probably held at the customs.  We started at 12.30 p.m. and reached at 9.00 p.m. Samarkand.  I had no idea that it was so long.  Road was untarred, wide and through Baesih hills which were grassy without trees and occasionally some houses.  Denov is a big town.  We had lunch at way side restaurant.  I spent 800 UM for Lagan  (a soup).  Driver was tired.  I told him earlier that I went to go to Hotel Bahodir which was recommended by   the Australian.  It was $ 10 with common shower and breakfast. 
Hotel in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Taxi driver stopped after going around at Rajitan area near the Aruv Temur Mausoleum which was shining in lights.  Some foreigners were standing there.  It was near here that Hotel ‘Dilshoda’ was written.  A man was standing.  I asked the Taxi driver to find out from him Hotel Bahodir.  Hotel Dishoda man said that hotel has common toilets where as he has a/c room with attached toilet for $ 10.  He wanted me to see this room.  I got down and come inside.  It was lonely atmosphere.  A big quadrangle  in the middle, sitting area and then 4 rooms on the 1st floor.  Room was double room with attached toilet.  I decided to stay.  The owner took my passport.  I came down and told the taxi driver to go.  After keeping the luggage, I came down.  Shahida the young daughter with her children and mother also came.  I asked for tea and bread.  Shahida brought Pilov also and no money.  It was her present.
I wrote diary upto 11.20 p.m. and then went to sleep.   A/c was on.  I felt a bit of suffocation in the morning and so opened the window.  At 8.30 a.m. I came for breakfast.  It is a large breakfast, Bread, two chilas, butter, jam, cheese slices, Salamis slices, a preparation of milk and rice like Indian keer, Savia with coffee.
I got some information from Shahida and finished the diary writing and should go for some sight seeing of Timur Mausoleum and then to Bazaar.  It is 11.00 a.m.
Mausoleum of Temurlung, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
2.15 p.m. :  As I came out, I saw sign of another B&B Hotel Euni.  I walked into it and met one young person from India, Mahindra.  He is from Delhi and now in business with Uzbekistan of herbal oils.  I chatted with him.  Another Indian who left today.  Here the hotel room is in $ 20 which is more than what I am paying.  I spoke to Lal Dahadu,  Institute of Culture in Tashkent from his telephone.  I fixed up tomorrow at 4.00 p.m. to meet Alisher there.  I will leave for Tashkent tomorrow.  Then I come out and then walked to Timur Mausoleum.  It is of bright bluecolour tiles and mosaic work.  All three buildings are restored one and so there is not much original things.  I spent quite a time taking pictures meeting and talking to people.  Uzbek women are quite friendly.  Boys and girls greet with Namaste at many places.  I came to Rajisthan where three big buildings, old time Madarsa are restored.  I went round all the monuments.  Each are  having small small souvenir shops.  When I came out of Timur Mausoleum, I met a young taxi driver.  We chatted for some time and I started walking to Ragistan.  It is hot and warm.  After a few minutes the same taxi driver came with some other passengers and stopped.  I asked no to get in. He would leave me at Registan (which is a place where three Madarsas are built in 14th century).  He dropped me at Ragistan without any money.  I thanked him.  Now here is ticket of 13000 Uzbek Som.  I had only 8000 left.  The watchman told me to go to a big shop of  Souvenir who would exchange.  I went inside.  The owner phoned someone and told me rate of 2800 for a dollar.  I accepted and exchanged 50 dollar for 14000 Uzbek.  After walking so much I met one small shop keeper who is selling tea at 1000 UM.  I accepted that.  He is selling caps, Tajik Caps for girls when they are married and one day afterwards they wear different cap.  I am now sitting for the last 45 minutes rested enough.  I will go to Bazaar and Bobi Khanua.  This is Samarkand.  It is good that I am staying here this night also otherwise one can’t have a feel of the city.
Ragistan, Samarkand
Ragistan, Samarkand
Ragistan, Samarkand
Registan, Samarkand
I should move now.  2.45 p.m. Registan square is also known as Baazar square, Ullagbek Madrasah.
6.45 p.m. : I came back to Hotel Dilshoda at 6.p.m.  Taking rest in the quadrangle only and asked for tea.  Shahida made a full tea pot and gave it to me.  Serving tea is always in tea pot.  Full of water and some tea leaves.  It is good and fresh air.  Water has been sprinkled in the quadrangle.  Here are grape vines with grapes hanging.  The owner has two big cars which are also parked inside.
After Registan square, I walked to Bibi Khanua Mausoleum.  Here also paid 8000 Uzbek Som.  It was not impressive lots of Mulberry trees.  White are called ‘Tut’ and black ‘Shahtut’.  Here are white ore.  A girl working in the garden brought a few for me.  Then I walked to the covered market which has more than 2000 counties.  I walked from one side.  One internet shop was there.  It was not working.  I can’t get Sim Card only Uzbek nationals can get.  I have to go to National Post Office for making telephone call.  Some woman selling day fruits gave me some Pistachio, Almonds, one gave me small bread for 500 U Som.  Woman chat a lot here freely.  Probably Samarkand is a big tourist place.  A large number of tourist groups from Europe and Russia came here.  That is why this free talking by woman as they are in the business of selling souvenirs.  These souvenirs are cheap to costly collected from different countries.  Two women asked me to sit and chatted about family and children and grand children.  Most of the people have good opinion for Indians.  Films and actors have played an important role in this goodwill and not the Hindi and Yoga classes of Indian Embassy.  Our Government should take note of it.  This woman Froze having Souvenir shop know that Dharmendra illegally married two times.  He has three  sons from first wife (I don’t know yet) and two daughters from second wife.  Then I walked out of this area which is traffic free.  One can take electric small trolly service from one end.  I take Bus No.74 with the help of a youngman and got down at Amir Timur’s Statue.  Again walked, took a photo of the statue.  Now the camera battery has gone.  Then walked to the Hotel Emir to find out that both Indian has left  for Tashkent an hour ago.  In any case I am not going to Tashkent today.  
Now 7.15 p.m. I am not hungry.  I will go to my room, have shower and see what can be done.  At least my writing is upto date.
The owner’s family is having dinner all together.  It is nice to see it.  Parents, son and daughter-in-law (Shahida) and three grand children.
I went to my room.  Took some rest.    Did some washing and took shower.  It was 9 p.m. when I came down to eat.  Shahida gave ‘Kichri’ in plate.  Here also Rice and Dal cooked together is called khichri with French Beans, Vegetables and Tea.  She did not charge any money.  So dinner on both days was complimentary with morning breakfast.  I had spread all the money on one bed.  It was becoming slightly foggy.  I had packed everything except shaving kit. I went to sleep at 9.45 p.m.  Many more people had come and Shahida and her mother were cooking food for them.

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