To get our visa to Uzbekistan faster, we “bought” a letter of invitation (LOI) from a hostel in Tashkent. With this LOI we could easily and quickly get our visa from the Uzbek embassy in Istanbul (see this post). One condition of that LOI was that we stay at least a night in the hostel in Tashkent.
It was our first hostel since the awful hostel in Naien (see this post). Throughout the journey we didn’t stay in a “normal” hostel yet. Therefore, it was nice to have the feeling of a hostel-community. We enjoyed the company of many other travelers. There was, for example, a cyclist from Switzerland (checkout his blog, picture of/from him on the right), a German/Uzbek couple that are working on prolonging visa and many others.
Charging at a factory
Opposite of the hostel was a factory. We arranged to charge on their property. Benedikt found, together with the security kid, a terribly old main fuse box at first. This fuse box would have been hard to access, since the fuses don’t really have screws and seem to not have been opened since at least 30 years. Strong wires led to other fuse boxes that we ended up accessing. The connection was strong. After 2 hours, the car was charged again at 90%.
Like Bukhara, Samarkand used to be an important city for traders between Europe and China. Different rulers build remarkable buildings during different centuries in Samarkand. Thanks to a continues renovation since the Russians came to Uzbekistan, tourists in Samarkand can now marvel at impressive buildings.
Did our charging cause a electricity outlet?
We stayed at a small, family owned hotel, a bit outside of the main attraction area. The car was parked in their garage and at first, we tried charging on a Schuko. The electricity fluctuation was, again, too large, so charging stopped shortly after it started. After this happened the second time, Benedikt found the fuse box of the house. Of course, they had three-phase electricity ;-). He connected the cables of our “open adapter” and we started to charge with 16 amperes. After setting everything up, he returned to me in the hotel-room and then it made “click” and there was a power outage. Uuuuups, was it us?!? We were already expecting to have a major discussion to explain that we can also charge with less amperes and so on. But, the blackout wasn’t our fault. The whole city was out of power. Since the generator was turned on only few minutes after the outage started, this seems to happen quite frequently in Samarkand. We continued charging the following day (only with 10 amperes, to be on the safe side), when power was back.
Just being tourists
Our current rhythm of stopping at a city for 2 days, feels good to us. That way, we also had in Samarkand a whole day to wonder from sight to sight. We hated the terrible price discrimination in Iran for touristic sights (tourists pay about 8-times more than Iranians), but in Samarkand it was even higher. As a tourist, you are supposed to pay 13-times the prices an Uzbek is paying. At least, that price is still almost half of the entry fees one needed to pay in Iran (Iran: 5 USD for every sight – Uzbekistan: 3 USD for largest sight in town). The sight we payed it for (Registan) was absolutely stunning and definitely worth that money.
Last thing to mention is that we were one more time extremely lucky with finding an excellent restaurant in Samarkand. We were guests at a beautiful and delicious restaurant in Bukhara. At both restaurants, we didn’t pay much more than 10€ (for a three-course dinner). Going to restaurants in Uzbekistan has been a blast so far 😉.
Tashkent itself seems to be a modern/soviet city. From its past as a Silk Road city, not much is left. We didn’t even bother going into the city center, but drove right east, towards the mountains. We spend a whole afternoon looking for a hotel. The concept of summer vacation in the mountains seems to play a strange (or no?) role in Uzbek culture. The road up the mountains is busy, probably of people swimming in the lake. But as soon as we started looking for hotels, it got difficult. Some hotels were closed, prices for others were outrageously high (almost twice as expensive as Bukhara), the rest was to disgusting or strange to stay at. After several attempts, we finally found a nice-looking hotel. The price of 60 USD was still too high for an average country hotel with small rooms (we stayed for less in both Samarkand and Bukhara). Considering these circumstances, we only stayed for one night, did a beautiful early morning hike and left in the late morning for the border to Kazakhstan.
Charging connection on hotel fuse box
We were lucky that the hotel was very cooperative to let us charge. They had 3 fuse boxes and only the last, where the key was lost, had “normal” fuses. They found the key after an hour and Benedikt set up a connection with open wires on this fuse box. Since he couldn’t clearly see what was going on in the fuse, it took him quite a while until both wires, the one from the fuse and the other one from our adapter connected in the fuse. In the end it worked out and we charged the car to 95%.