Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Oybek crossing into Uzbekistan

With no more days left on our Tajik visa we had to continue our journey to Uzbekistan. Driving north of Khujand, through the Fergana valley, we could see that the cotton harvest was in full swing. The roads were good now, and the landscape flat and open. The taxi dropped us at the border and we exited Tajikistan. We then had to drag our bags through the across an excessive amount of no-mans land to find that everyone was squeezed into a tiny building where the Uzbek passport control was located. Badly laid out and organised, queuing would have been intolerable if it hadn't been for the Tajiks who, always polite and gentle, insisted on queuing fairly. The Uzbek officials treated them terribly. A French tourist fainted and was let through. Passport control closed for a lunch break. Eventually we made it to customs where we had to fill out the form several times, our bags were searched and then we were finally in Uzbekistan.

Luckily we only had to do that crossing once. I pity the Tajiks who have to do it regularly. In Uzbekistan there are many ethnic Tajiks, with majority Tajik areas being in the famous cities of Samarkand and Bokhara, but the Uzbek authorities make life very difficult for them which has separated families and stifled trade. Uzbekistan is also rated by Transparency International as the 4th most corrupt country in the world and is one of the worst for Soviet bureaucracy, all of which we were about to experience a lot more of.

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