I may have mentioned this before, but for some stupid reason you have to register three days after you arrive in Uzbekistan. The problem is you cannot register that you’re staying with a private citizen without a ton of hassle and paperwork. As a consequence, CouchSurfing is technically illegal.
What most people do is check into a hotel for the night and then doctor the docket that they’re given (as I did last week) so the dates imply you stayed in the hotel longer than you really did. However our sweet French couple, Younne and Cloe neglected to register within their three day period of grace. You see the Uzbek government is a little stuck in it’s ways and thinks that every westerner who would like to visit their country is James Bond come to blow up their secret volcano fortresses.
It’s when you hear about the government bugging hotel rooms that your eyes involuntarily roll upwards. Seriously, Uzbekistan, get a grip – we really couldn’t give a monkey’s what you’re doing – you’re a landlocked country in the middle of nowhere that 9 people out of 10 have never heard of. MI6 AND THE CIA DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU, THEY NEVER HAVE AND THEY NEVER WILL. There, I’ve said it. I love Uzbekistan but in the silliness awards, the government is rubbing shoulders with the brainless mooks that run Africa.
Anyway, Younne and Cloe tottered off to the railway station to ‘check in’ at the hotel there. They asked for a room for the night and explained they had lost their dockets for the past couple of days – damnit, it was only a couple of days, eh? Anyway, the bee-atch at the hotel smiled, took their passports as if to copy down the numbers, explained that she’d be right back and then promptly returned with a police officer in tow.
What a cow. What an utter cow.
Rafa, our CouchSurfing host had to head down to the police station and help them out. Luckily (and happily) Uzbekistan is NOT Africa, and therefore throwing tourists in jail is not a national sport, so after a few hours they were set free; although not before they were told that they faced DEPORTATION for their misdemeanour.
Crikey – at first we thought they’d be flown back home (I shudder to think what I’d have to do if that happens to me!) but then the police said they would give them until Wednesday to get a visa for Kyrgyzstan and then they’ll be escorted to the border. The cop who booked them said that he had personally deported about fifty tourists since the beginning of the year.
Oh look – somebody from a rich country coming to take money from a rich country and spend it in our poor country… let’s deport them! Smart move, guys… you must be really good at chess.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – any conspiracy theory that hinges on politicians of the world having a higher IQ than an eggplant is doomed from the start – if you put all the politicians and bureaucrats in the world in a room, you wouldn’t have enough of a spark to ignite a stick of dynamite from the Black Rock.
Not wanting another run-in with the fuzz, I set out with Rafa to check into a hotel myself – not the railway one (for obvious reasons) but the one near the circus (a monstrous eyesore that looks like a big concrete hamburger). For $7 my stay here was safe. With any luck, I’ll have my Turkmenistan visa tomorrow and then I’ll be outta here.
I really, really like the Uzbek people. If the government here would just chill out a little, many more people would like them too.