Day 450: The Incident

26.03.10: I had real trouble dragging myself out of bed this morning. I asked Fred to wake me up, which she did, but what I should have asked is for Fred to wake me up by throwing a bucket of cold water over my head. I got to the bank to pay in the money for the Afghan visa at 9.30am, meeting Atabeck there and (stupidly) thinking that paying $30 into a bank would be an easy process. Ha! No. It took the best part of an hour. Seriously. I had to go to three different desks (on different floors no less!) and fill out paperwork at all three of them. It’s quicker to book a seven-stop Round The World ticket at STA Travel. I know, I’ve done it. We now had our backs against the wall – if I wanted to get off to Kyrgyzstan…

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Day 449: The Great Game

25.03.10: The plan today was simple. Well, I thought it was. First up, visit the Kyrgyzstan Embassy and hand over my passport, while that visa is processing put my application in to the Turkmenistan Embassy, then scope out the Afghan embassy (which my book tells me issues visas ‘on the spot’) and back to the Kyrgyzstan embassy get passport, rush back to the Afghan embassy, and maybe head on to Kyrgyzstan with my shiny new visa before the day is done. I plan to return here next week after visiting Tajikistan (a visa best got in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan) to pick up my you-have-to-wait-ten-days-for-it Turkmenistan visa. But ha! No. The bus got in nice and early at 8.30am. Great. I grabbed a cab and headed into the city centre, picking a Metro station at random to be dropped off at while I texted my…

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Day 448: Paranoid? Who Said That?!

24.03.10: I woke to find the two guys that I was sharing a room with sitting on their beds staring at me like I had just dropped from space and got their grandmother pregnant. This was disconcerting to say the least. I got up, gathered up my gear and exited as quickly as I could. When I left the hotel, I was given a tiny square of paper – my “registration” slip. This is so the government here can keep tabs on you as you tour around their country – I can’t leave without it. To say the Uzbek government is paranoid would be a massive understatement – in fact, I’m not going to post this blog entry until I’m out of the region, just in case. Not content with being the third hardest country in the world to get a visa for, you have to…

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Day 447: The Aral Sea Disaster

23.03.10: The train arrived at the town of Beyneu at about ten minutes to five in the morning, enjoyed a cup of tea in the little station cafe and after about an hour, I clambered on board the train for a place called Kungrad in Uzbekistan. We got to the border about midday, and the border process was quite alarmingly swift and painless. The stamp guys got on the train, grabbed everyone's passports and after half an hour, gave them all back - I didn't even need to get up from my seat. Which means.... I'M IN UZBEKISTAN! Wooooo! 149! 149! 149! Soon enough, I found myself snoozing as the pitiful remnants of the Aral Sea sped by far to the east. The Aral Sea disaster. I have to admit, before I read about it in the Lonely Planet I had never even heard of the…

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