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Border Crossing into Uzbekistan

I had a good sleep in the tent next to Helen. The only issue was I didn’t have a pillow and so my neck got somehow cracked because of me sleeping in a strange position. Now it’s a pain to move my head around and I’m unable to look over my shoulder so I always need to turn my whole body around. I’m afraid it will take a few days until I’m painless again.

Breakfast was at 7:00am but when I showed up at 7:05am all fruit and other eatable stuff was gone. The only thing left was the bread we purchased yesterday and some marmalade. Usually this isn’t an issue but what we didn’t know until now is the bread in Turkmenistan turns stone-hard in a couple of hours. So instead of eating it and losing all your teeth you can actually use it to kill someone. You might think I’m exaggerating here, but sadly it’s true. We ended-up playing Frisbee with the bread and threw it into the Amu-Darya River close by so the fishes can enjoy it.

From Konye-Urgench it was only a short drive to the border, maybe two hours or so. What‘s also interesting to know is upon entry of Turkmenistan you need to register in a government agency which we did during our stay in Ashgabat. For the registration you need two passport photos or when you don’t have them three US dollar and they take a picture from the photo in your passport. As proof you have registered, you receive a stamp in your passport and an “Entry Travel Pass” which you are supposed to carry with you at all times. The pass states the route you are allowed to travel and you shouldn’t head off in any other direction or you might get in trouble with the police.

At the border we said goodbye to our Turkmen guide Batsy and the drivers of the jeeps. Then we grabbed our backpacks and walked into the immigration office at the Turkmenistan side. Here we got stamped out of the country and they didn’t even check our “Entry Travel Pass”. Immigrations at the Uzbekistan side was a bit more complicated since the arrival forms, we needed to fill out, where in Russian language only and our local guide for Uzbekistan wasn’t there yet. So with the help of my roommate Isabella, who speaks a bit of Polish which is kind of similar to Russian, we managed to understand the form.

We were also requested to fill out two identical copies of the arrival form since carbon copy paper didn’t make it to this part of the world. On the form we needed to declare all money we carry with us in all kinds of different currencies. At least there wasn’t any restriction you cannot carry more than 10,000 USD with you as it’s the case in some countries. The reason for declaring your money upon entry is because the government wants to know how much money you have spent in the country. When leaving Uzbekistan you will be required to declare your money again on the exit form. It needs to be at least one USD less than the amount you entered the country with otherwise they won’t let you go.

After crossing the border we enjoyed some cold drinks in a small bar right behind the immigrations office which accepted small dollar notes as payment. After everybody crossed the border our local guide for Uzbekistan showed-up. His name is Jelol and he’s a very funny guy not just telling us lots of historical facts but also about the daily life and mindset of the people in Uzbekistan. Jelol arrived in a big modern air-conditioned coach which will bring us to Khiva where we will spend the next two days.

Upon arrival Isabella and I checked-out the local supermarket. There wasn’t much choice but the section selling vodka was about one third of the size of the supermarket. In the evening everybody met for a group dinner at the terrace of the hotel. We had a selection of different local dishes on small plates and really enjoyed the taste of it.