Central Uzbekistan

As with many of the settlements through which we’ve passed, Nukus was another sprawling affair with lots of wasted space between the mostly single story buildings. All this creating a very spread out town, with any trip requiring a ride in one of the many buses that are whizzing around. Bus! – actually a Beford Rascal Van. After looking in the guide book, we found that there was one main attraction in town and that it was actually around the corner from the hotel! After a 14 hour sleep we waited for the worst of the blazing heat to pass before heading over to the Savitsky Art Museum. It holds a collection of avant-garde Russian paintings that were deemed unfit by the Soviet Regime, and were rescued from destruction by Ivor Savitsky. Reviews rave about how inspiring and amazing this place is – maybe we were in the wrong frame of mind, it was OK, but like many things, not what you’d put up with in Europe – we rushed round before heading back to our air conditioned hotel!

With another desert section to cross before we could reach Samarkand, we decided to continue with our railway adventures and take the twice weekly train that was due to leave at 11am the following day. After a trip to the Bazzar to change some money (on the black market again), we jumped in the #54 Bedford Rascal bus and headed to the railway station to buy the tickets. Actually, they are not Bedford Rascals – Daewoo/GM now build them by their thousands in an Uzbek factory and sell them as the Damas, typically as a 7-seater!!

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Mini-rascals at the ready  –   8-up in the worlds smallest 7 seater!

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Sickness on the Sea

Wheeling the bikes out of the Kongrad station at midnight and through the police checkpoint we were immediately into a busy market. There was no street lighting but the stall holders had torches pointing onto their stands hoping to trade with some of the 2500 people who had just got off the train. Most people were getting into taxis, we were looking for somewhere to sleep.

Soon, a short, round lady approached us, “hotel?”, we were hesitant, sometimes you don’t want help. Quickly evaluating our situation (early hours of the morning, no lighting, no signs of any commercialism), we accepted. And with that we were marched off towards a small alleyway. Not fully sure of the situation we stopped. “Your hotel?” we asked: yes. “Your house?”: yes. Now we understood – with price checked (£7), we continued.  We managed to deciphered that showers where an extra 7000 sum (£2) and somewhere outside.  Her 19 year old son then arrived and we agreed and follow him for our second mystery adventure of the evening. We eventually arrived at the showers which were in another house on different dark street! Money exchanged we sat in the courtyard awaiting our turn. The shower was in a very nicely tiled wetroom, the toilet however was a shed at the bottom of the vegetable garden and over a earth hole. A hot and smelly affair! We slept on the lounge floor on vibrantly coloured mats, the bikes alongside. Breakfast was also on the floor!

Our Bed, and Breakfast, literally.

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