After the totally unexpected surprise of meeting up with a teaching colleague at breakfast in the Hotel Uzbekistan yesterday, we left Tashkent and drove to the Oybek/Uzbek border. We had been told it could be fairly tedious, but luckily we arrived earlyish and breezed through immigration. The guards, officials and other staff were all very courteous and patient. Of course when they see our passports their first comment is usually “kangaroo”.
We then had to drag our bags through “no man’s land” in the midday sun and into Tajikistan…no problem! There didn’t seem to be any taxis about when we left immigration, but of course they were outside the gates. When the drivers saw us, they approached enmasse and started negotiating the price. We only had a couple of hundred Somoni and no idea how much was a fair price. Anyway we agreed on an exhorbitant amount and in moments the driver evicted his car full of waiting passengers and we were away! Sort of! The other driver( who had gathered the discarded passengers) started beeping and yelling at him to pull over, which he did…obviously not happy that he had missed a big fare…or something! Who knows?
Khujand is the second largest city in Tajikistan. Alexander the Great founded a city here, which was later destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th Century. Today we wandered around, checked out the bazaar, museum and what is left of the ancient walls. We are enjoying the spacious apartment; Lotifah (who speaks excellent English) at Armon Apartments has been extremely helpful and has organised a taxi to Penjikent tomorrow (at a much more reasonable rate!)