We got all the visas in Monday (12.7.2010); The Chinese visa in the morning and Kyrgyz one in the evening. We missed the afternoon train till Angren, which is the last town before you start ascending towards Fergana valley. We only had 3 more days left before our Uzbek visa would finish and almost 400km to go. So it was our only option to reach the border in time.
We took the train the next day. We missed the first one at 7.42 am, which left just as we came to the station. So we returned to our Korean family and spent some more time with them. They made us big lunch and gave us snack for the afternoon train.
We were told that the journey would take only 2 hours. It was already 3 hours since we left Tashkent, so we asked when we will arrive; 7 o’clock they told us. It meant 5 hours of hot sticky train sauna. It was more than 50 degrees on the train; we were covered in sweat, which was slowly running down our bodies.
We finally arrived, packed the bikes and started to cycle towards the main road. It was getting late. We had just enough time to find a camping spot. As soon as we came to the main road an empty truck stopped and the drivers asked us if we need a lift till the pass. We quickly decided to come with them because in 2 days we had to be on the border and there were too many km to cycle to be there in time.
The two nice drivers took us over the pass, where we disembark and went across the road to chaikhana where we slept for the night.
It was a nice and refreshing night, we had tea and lipjoska in the morning and then we started to descend to Fergana valley. The road was in very bad condition (too many heavy trucks pass here every day) so we couldn’t go too fast, but after the check point the road changed and we were flying.
It was great .The landscape was so beautiful. Aalso people on this side were different, not to many tourist come to this part of Uzbeksitan, only some crazy travelers.
We had tea and breakfast at the cross where we turned left on the smaller rd. towards Namangan.
We still had some 140km left till the border, the day was beautiful and we were feeling happy. We cycled on the small broken rd, with not too much traffic, enjoying the view of big mountains surrounding us. The sun was shining and it was getting hot.
Mirko stopped in a small market by the side of the rd. and by the time I came he was surrounded by the crowd of villagers asking him many questions, smiling and being happy to see us there. We got a melon and some cookies for present and then continue on our way.
Before we reached Namangan we stopped in a restaurant for tea and a little rest. The owner was so happy that we were exploring his county on bicycles that he gave us a big dinner and lots of tea. We took picture, thanked him and left because it was getting late.
We reached Namangan in the evening and find a nice hotel where we spent the night. We woke up early in the morning had breakfast and left towards the border which was still 70km away. It was our last day on the visa and we wanted to be there early, so the border wouldn’t be closed when we would arrive. There were many villages one after the other in this part of the valley.
Some 20km before the border we met two motor bikers from Hong Kong who told us that the border is closed. We saw them the day before when they passed us. They said they had to go back to Tashkent and to Kazakhstan.
I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know what will happen if they wouldn’t let us through. We thought for a minute what to do, but decided to go to the border anyway and see what will happen. We were so close now and didn’t want to turn around without at least trying.
We came to the border. It was very small and it did look like it was closed.
We knocked on the door and the guard took our passport. Some people went outside so we took the bikes and put them inside. They were not so happy about it, but there was no shadow outside the gate and it was just too hot to wait in the sun.
For a little bit we thought we will be lucky and they would let us through. After some time they told us the border is closed for the foreigners and we should return to Tashkent and go to our embassy. We told them that we don’t have enough time to go to Tashkent, because tomorrow our visa will be finished and it was already late. So they have to let us through.
They kept looking at our passport giving us hope but on the end we got the same answer. It was already late and we knew there is no way they would let us through, we were just losing our time. After four hours without success we turned around and went to the village.
We didn’t know what to do. There was no more transport for Tashkent that day and we had only few hours left before our visa would expire. We decided to go to Police and told them our story so they will know that we are trying to leave.
The police was nice. They made few phone calls and found out that the border to Osh is open for foreigners. We had to hurry up to come there before they will close it. It was not easy at this time of the day in this small town. But we were lucky. The police found a man who was willing to take us to the border on the other side of Fergana valley.
We arrived to the check point close to the border around 11.30pm. The policemen went to check the situation and we had to wait with the driver. The time was passing and it was getting close to midnight. I didn’t understand why we are wasting the time waiting if we should be crossing the border. After more than half an hour passed the policeman returned and told us that we can’t cross today because now it was already too late but for sure tomorrow morning they will let us through.
We were both very suspicious and didn’t want to pay the driver until we would be sure that we can cross the border. But now the border was closed and the police man promised us we will be going to Kyrgyzstan tomorrow. So we gave him the promised 20$ and made a camp by the check point.
I was very tired. It was a long and very stressful day and I just wanted to sleep.
We woke up and had no idea what kind of adventure we will be having that day. We packed the things and as soon as the border opened we were there. The guards took our passports, asked us few questions and told us to wait.
We had no idea what was going to happen, still positive that for lunch we will be in Osh we were chatting with the guards. I was not so happy about entering Kyrgyzstan through this border, because of recent problems there, but we had no other choice and we were already illegal in Uzbekistan.
After some time the guards came back and told us that the border is closed for foreigners, because of the war in Kyrgyzstan. We told them that yesterday night they promised that they will let us through. So we didn’t understand what the problem was. The Kyrgyzstan side was open, we just had to leave Uzbekistan but they wouldn’t let us.
They kept saying that we have to go back to Tashkent to our embassy. We were in very strange situation. We were illegal in Uzbekistan, had no other visa but Kyrgyzstan and it was Friday morning, which meant we had to wait until Monday to make some other visa to leave the country , so we will be even more illegal and we were very far from Tashkent.
While trying to convince them to let us through a lady came with a small baby and they let her go. We asked them how come they let her pass if there is dangerous war over the border. They ignored us and after some time we saw they will not change their mind, we will have to go to Tashkent. And sooner we leave more time we will have. We were there more than 5 hours.
We turned around and started to cycle. It was a long journey back. We cycled, hitchhiked and came to Tashkent the next day.
We went back to our Korean family. They were very happy to see as again. We told them our story. And when they heard we don’t have much money left they were happy to help us.
We stayed with them for the weekend. Monday morning we went to Kazakhstan embassy to make the visa. It was a bit tricky because our Uzbekistan visa was finished. But after explaining our situation they told us to come the next day to pick it up. The visa was not finished so we had to wait one extra day.
Wednesday morning we picked up the visa and quickly cycled 25km to the border.
The border we crossed is only for pedestrians and no cars are allowed. When we arrived, we saw a big crowed trying to get to the other side.
It looked very messy without any order and there was no way for us to go in this NO line with our bikes. So we parked them by the side and I waited with them while Mirko went to talk to the guards.
I don’t know what he told them but they said that we can bring the bikes around and then go to stamp the passports. So we skipped the whole x-ray thing. I was so happy that we are finally leaving Uzbekistan. The guards were very nice here, asking ask questions, being very interested in our journey.
The officer took our passport to gave us a stamp. He started to inspect it, going through all the pages. After some time he said that our visa finished 6 days ago. We explained him that we know about it and told him that we were trying to leave Uzbekistan through two borders in Fergana valley but they wouldn’t let us through. So we had to come back to Tashkent, make visa for Kazakhstan and now we are here.
We also showed him a paper from Czech embassy explain our situation.
We had to wait while he went to talk to his boss. After some time the higher rank officer came and asked us to show him our registration slips, which we did. We wouldn’t need them if our visa would be in order.
He also told us we can’t cross the border because our visa is expired. I couldn’t believe what was happening. The embassy paper didn’t really help us; they wouldn’t let us through until we would have a valid visa in our passports.
We were trying to leave this country for a week now and it was just not happening. He also said that we will have to go back to some police station.
I just wanted to be out of Uzbekistan and didn’t want to go back, but we had no choice. We had to go and get a new exit visa. We told the officers that we don’t want to take our bikes back and we wanted to leave them on the border. They were very kind and locked the bikes in a small guard house and then took us to police station some 20 km away, close to the other car crossing border.
We came to the police station and stayed in the waiting room for few hours while a policeman tried to help us with our situation.
We told him we had no money so we couldn’t pay. We also hide all the money we had in our bikes, in case they would asked us to pay the fine. It was getting late and nothing could be done that day. We had to wait till the morning. So we stayed at the police station for the night.
I had no idea that leaving Uzbekistan will be so hard. I liked it thou but was thinking I don’t need to come back if they will not change the system.
We spent the whole next day at the police station without much luck. And we had to stay there another night. The policeman was very nice he invited us for dinner and lunch and gave us some money so we could buy some water and snacks. We saw lots of people who were brought to the station because they didn’t have exit stamp in the passport and they had to pay the fine. I couldn’t believe what I saw, so much corruption in this country.
The next morning we had to go to an office in Tashkent to get some stamps than to the airport where they gave us exit visa and finally back to the border. We took our bikes and went to get the exit stamp. They wanted us to put all the things through the x-ray but we told them we did all last time so now we just had to get the stamp and cross the border. We were so happy to be finally out of Uzbekistan.