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Korea, Russia, Stans To East Europe (page 70)

Kokand To Chust To Tashkent

Staying the night at Kokand we went to a hotel that was recommended on Ioverlander, seems they know they are on there now and they have raised their prices considerably, we left and got another place which was cheaper, better and the staff very nice, now the Ioverlander uses know that the first place have beefed up their prices and there are better options around. 

I tried getting money and changing money, something that is somewhat of a mission in this country, lucky I had some US which I manage to exchange but took a bath on the rate.

Leaving Kokand we hit it to Chust, the famous knife making town in Uzbekistan, now this town is pretty big and is the oldest city in this region complete with deep history.

The weather was extremely windy and 45 was being blown around like a leaf in the wind during the ride which was hard work, arriving in Chust it was trying to rain, 2 places listed as hotels and guest houses simply did not exist, there is 1 place there the "Chust Hotel" which we found with locals help.

Arriving there the bikes were wobbling on the side stand with the wind buffeting and some sky aqua trying to wash the bikes too.

Standing in the door was the owner, he was elderly, appeared grumpy and staunch, he had his price and that was it, no other hotels, shit weather and getting dark we were not in a good position bargain him down.

John tried without much success and I had a go with a Kiwi smile. Eventually we wore him down a bit but it was still pricey for the region and it still did not include breakfast.

Getting to our room it was dark, there had been no power since 1.00pm from the wind wrecking something, no lights, no wifi, no water.

As luck would have it we met a dude staying at the hotel, the only other guest and he could speak a little English, he expressed our displeasure and his displeasure to the owner charging us knowing nothing was working.

Ok, things improved, the owner dropped us off to a restaurant and soon after we had a phone call the power was on so we could have a shower once the water got heated on our return.

Our deep fried fish dinner, was $55000 Somoni which is about $5.50 for 2 of us, very cheap when local and beautiful feed it was.

I think with the inconvenience and the words from the other guest (Uzbekistani) he also agreed to pay for our breakfast at a small café 1 minute from the hotel.

Our mission in Chust was to see the knife making and maybe buy a knife so we can impress the border guards. Our local man took us to the Bazaar (Large market where EVERYTHING Uzbekistani happens), once it was understood what we needed it was all on and awesome.

We meet a blacksmith knifemaker guy who is going to London to compete in knife making champs having taken all the local titles, his talent was awesome and we were lucky to see him in action, this is no tourist shop this is the real deal, we were the only two white faces (in town that we had seen) and everyone was looking at us so we were the attraction

Knife in the oven
Beating the flat end into shape
Beating the top edge into shape
Groovy tune for a metalhead, awesome work this guy does

John made his purchase and me I bought two, one each for Ellen and I, a good steak and meat cutting knife for the barbeque as is Ellens, also slash through veges easily, the knives from new cut paper just holding one corner and you can shave the fluff on your arm without pushing your skin, these are razor sharp so I have wrapped them extremely well within the leather pouch.

It is hard to buy a gift that will make it back to NZ without being broken, also something you know will be welcomed and used.

Now I know some of you think WTF buying a knife for the wife but it is a special knife bought with love in a famous knife making place and when you see all the locals buying from them and the Police too you know you are in the right place, further our man told us what they will probably ask and told us what we should actually pay and yeap there was quite a difference. Sitting back observing what cash went over the counter for the sale of other knives our local intel was great knowing we had not been ripped.

Our knives before I bought them
Our knives, yes his and her no less, I even picked a smaller handle for Ellen for her smaller hands, my one is quite heavy and both feel so nice

Finishing the weaponry purchases Tashkent was in the crosshairs (that is tactical talk), I was looking at changing my game plan to going up and around the Caspian Sea.

Zapping to the Russian Embassy in Tashkent the information I had been given was wrong, the Russians in true Russian form over complicating things to the max and making shit way more difficult than it was worth time wise, a shame really as once in Russia it is way simpler and really cool.

We will go back next year after re-visa-ing from home when time is no issue.

Plan A is it for me, through Uzbekistan to the boat at Kazahkstan, Plan B and a unwanted invite letter being $30 wasted which was annoying now canned.

Backtrack to the border while 45 was on her side I checked the rear wheel and thought I though movement in the bearings, thinking preventatively and having a courtyard and access to tools I took the opportunity to change them.

I knocked them out only to find they were still good, so good in fact it was a waste of time changing them, they have about 27000 km on them so I guess doing them here under controlled conditions rather than in a sandpit or bog hole is a better option and I have peace of mind too, that is worth a lot.       

No blocks of wood so oh her side she goes, made life easy
Yeah I thought that too, she just bein bloody lazy laying around!!!
Author of this article: Twomotokiwis