A word about yesterday’s (Day 19) post – Microsoft Word got me when I wasn’t looking – dropped all my changes – has been rewritten and reposted – I do hate it when that happens – oh well …
Off to another day of fun and adventure – a relatively short one although we do have to cross a border which is time consuming at best.
Kazakhstan is a country just starting to find itself and beginning to rebuild. Following the split from Russia, many factories and industries as a whole simply shut down due to the lack of demand from Russian. All sorts of facilities still sit falling apart, however, we have been told that the asset value of these properties, both land and buildings, is recognized and recovery is beginning – we hope so. Kazakhstan is supposedly the 5th largest oil producing nation and has other valuable natural resources, however, the standard of living here is quite low. Hopefully that will improve in the coming years – there are certainly great opportunities here.
The old surrounded by the new … Interesting, even many of the new houses appear to be unoccupied.
This is a very modern market in one of the smaller villages – you don’t see many like this one …
A main highway right through the village …
With the usual group of on-lookers waiting to wave …
And there are Mosques everywhere – always the largest and most important building in any area – a constant reminder that this, as part of the Silk Road, is largely a Muslim country, however, women do not wear veils or burkas.
And the ever present little roadside shops …
We have been told that gas will be difficult to obtain in Uzbekistan so this was the last rally Passage Control and fueling station in Kazakhstan – nothing like another line to waste valuable time.
This is a 1948 Tatra 87 driven by Vladimir Toufar and Michal Popov from Czechoslovakia where the car was built. They have encountered several problems along the way but have managed to catch up with the rally. Unfortunately, shortly after rejoining the group whey suffered a rollover accident – fortunately no one was hurt and the car wasn’t seriously damaged – too bad as it was a very nice example of a Tatra. As a side note, these cars have an air cooled V8 engine in the rear.
And now for the mob scene at the border … This is a 1918 Buick Roadster driven by Nicky Bailey and Janek Mamino both of Ireland. This car really gets along and is great fun to see on the road.
If you have a border, you have money changers. Each country has its own currency which is only good there which makes for a very lucrative business for these young entrepreneurs. Now the wait begins – it is now 11:45.
And who do we find in no mans land between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan but the persistent Tim Scott who has his motorcycle back on the road. Unfortunately, he continues to have minor problems and we hope they do not become more serious again – he is a very determined man.
Finally we pass through customs and are in Uzbekistan at 4:45 – a mere 5 hours to cross a border. Hopefully truckers and other commercial vehicles don’t have as long a wait – things could get very expensive.
Now that we are here it was like crossing from night into day. The fields are much greener and carefully planted. Cotton is grown here in great abundance along with corn and other crops. There are trees everywhere and the land has a much softer look and feel.
The roads are in much better condition, very well marked and much easier to travel. The speed limits here are also a little higher – good thing as a number of competitors did receive tickets (some multiple ones) in Kazakhstan. We were lucky even though we were stopped leaving Shymkent – the policeman just wanted to see into the car.
Sorry about the picture but couldn’t resist the two young boys on their donkey waiving to us – what fun …
And even on these modern high speed roads you find little surprises – in this case a hay wagon which in this case is on a truck moving slowly so as to not lose the load. Other times, these are actual wagons pulled by tractors moving at a snail’s pace – great fun to encounter on a 2 lane road.
This was simply described as a monument coming in to Tashkent – probably 80 – 90 feet tall and certainly interesting.
Tashkent is reported to be an eccentric kind of place. In one part of the city you can hear Russian taxi drivers shouting across to each other and in the older part of the city you can see old men pushing their carts of nuts past mud-walled buildings to the local bazar.
Tashkent has been the capital of Uzbekistan since 1930 and definitely has a cosmopolitan air about it. It has a rapidly improving restaurant scene and the best nightlife for many miles.
On April 25, 1966, the face of Tashkent was changed forever when it was hit by an earthquake. The massive quake leveled vast areas and left 300,000 people homeless.
Like the part of the country we have seen, Tashkent is a growing modern city with excellent infrastructure – an underground metro and streetcars, great roads, wide tree lined streets which reminded Lloyd of Paris and traffic lights which are hard to find. Along with all that comes traffic – oh well …
An interesting building on our way to the hotel …
At last, the Intercontinental Hotel in Tashkent – too bad we are only here overnight. The parking area is restricted to competitors otherwise it would be a mob scene. Apparently our arrival here was also well publicized as it was difficult to get through the crowds into the parking lot – the local police were certainly helpful in getting us there.
A quick shot of the parking area from a dirty window but I’m sure you get the idea – this was taken at 7:30 in the morning – the lack of activity is explained by the fact that we have a late departure for Samarkand today which is only 216 kms away and if the roads are as good as coming into Tashkent it will not take long to arrive.
And finally, the amusement park next door – wish we had more time in this wonderful city.
We have completed the first route book (the third and last book is relatively small) and perhaps the most difficult part of our journey. It has been an amazing adventure so far, the car has performed very well and we look forward to what awaits us in the next 17 days.