10-Nov-2004 -- Back in Uzbekistan for two weeks. I came from Mongolia via Moscow but due to a 12 hour Aeroflot delay at the start, I missed the connection in Moscow and spent 3 days in Moscow transit hotel waiting for the next flight. Without a visa the hotel is more like a prison – no chance to go point hunting! Anyway I eventually reached Tashkent and had to travel straight to Karshi by taxi – a 500 km drive.
The drive is not as straightforward as it should be as the main road passes through Kazakhstan and has been shut for two years. A longer detour is necessary to stay in Uzbekistan.
One point seemed to be about 12 km off the road and the opportunity was too good to miss! The lack of a map did not hinder us significantly! After a couple of false trails we found a road that took us to within 330 metres of the point. A short walk across a rather wet, ploughed field brought us to the point. This was the first in Samarkand province. The wonderful Registan at Samarkand is just a few kilometres away. The driver (Atabek) was happy to make the detour and volunteered to go to another at the weekend if time permits.
I had looked at another point near the road but after a while realized that it was in Tajikistan! It is interesting to look at a map showing the borders in the “Stans”. The borders were drawn by Stalin to reflect ethnic divisions and then shuffled a bit more to ensure that all the nations are interdependent. Unfortunately, as some of them are not on speaking terms with each other travelling even within Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan can involve long detours to stay within the borders. As you leave Tashkent there are signposts showing the directions and distances for Baku, Tehran and Karachi – I wish anybody trying to drive to these places today the best of luck.