Having failed to get an Uzbekistan visa in the UK my sole goal today was to get one today, or at least apply for one. I had read to get there early because there is a sheet where you write your name down and get served in order. My alarm went off at 0630 and I was at the embassy by 0715, 45 minutes before opening time, I was 12th on the list. Not that I had any inclination of how long it would take.
0800 came and went with no movement from anyone, so did 0900. Just after 0900 a hatch opened and started serving people but it was enquiries (I think) and not visas. The consulate part (where they issue visas) didn’t open until 1020… I was thankfully 5th in the queue however when I got to one of the members of staff I was told I had insufficient paperwork. It was demoralising to say the least to trudge back past the 30 people now in the queue.
Thankfully there was an internet cafe just round the corner which was clearly used to helping people with visas so I paid £4 and had the correct paperwork filled out for me. On my return 15 minutes later the queue had gone down a lot so in didn’t actually have to wait too long to see my man again, he was happy to take my documents off me and said I didn’t need an appointment (which saved me a lot of time) but I should come back in 5 working days time. Not ideal as they aren’t open on Wednesdays so it means I would have to pick it up on Thursday which doesn’t leave me with any time to explore Uzbekistan beyond Tashkent, the capital. I am going to go to the embassy on Tuesday and hope they have completed it by then, fingers crossed.
After leaving (and feeling marginally better than first thing that morning) I was very hungry having only eaten some crisps on my way there. Deciding I needed to have something vaguely healthy as my diet in Central Asia so far had consisted predominantly of carbs I ordered a salad. A salad and nothing else, the first time in my life I had done so. It was worth it, not only was it really tasty I felt good about having something with vitamins in, although I did bulk it up with some bread.
Wanting to give Almaty a second chance of impressing me I decided to experience a bit of culture and went to the National Museum. To give them credit it was well laid out and presented, I just struggled to understand any of the Kazakh or Russian on the displays, the few which had English were very interesting. Worth a visit even with the lack of understanding but it would’ve been 10 times better if I knew what each item I was looking at actually was. The second attempt to portray Almaty in a food light was to take a cable car up Kok Tobe, a 1100m hill at th e southern edge of the city. Atop the hill were a while myriad of amusement/entertainment stalls, none of which took my fancy, not even the farm.. The redeeming feature (and the reason I went up in the first place) were the views over the city and the surrounding mountains. Worth the £5 round trip.
I spent the remainder of the time before dinner researching what I was going to do over the next few days before I was able to pick up my visa, thankfully the embassy hadn’t taken my passport so I am still able to travel to Kyrgyzstan. For dinner I decided tro go to a meat restaurant, the menu looked delicious and the dish I had was yummy but I had to wait 45 minutes for my food which was frustrating, especially as they didn’t seem to think it was an issue that they’d taken so long. A poor review on Trip Advisor was their repercussion…