I woke reasonably early but took my time getting ready, my explorations in the morning took me in search of the all allusive postcard, having not seen a single one on my travels in Central Asia so far I wasn’t holding my breath. I looked in all the likely shops including a large supermarket, my wanderings even took me to the post office in a vain hope they might have some but alas they were nowhere to be found. I instead returned to the hostel with a large carton of fried rice, veg and meat, so not all was lost.
I packed my bag and walked the 35 minutes across town to the Uzbekistan Embassy and arrived on the dot of 1500, 5 minutes later they opened up and called forward those requiring visas. Collectively we handed over our passports and began the wait, an hour and a half later the consul came out with payments slips to be taken to the bank. Thankfully my name was the first one he read out so I sped away to the bank and was able to pay in a matter of minutes, others had to wait at least half an hour. I dashed back (vainly hoping I would be issued a visa straight away) and on handing over my ‘proof of payment voucher’ was told to come back in an hour.
To while away the time I bought some pastry’s for dinner and had an iced coffee (to make use of their WiFi) and returned after 40 minutes which turned out to be a shrewd move as my passport was available to be collected 5 minutes later. By 1730 I was out of the Embassy with a visa in my passport.
Straight away I jumped on a bus heading towards the bus station on the edge of thew city. It took a whole hour to maker the 5km journey and once there I jumped off, hoping all the spaces a hadn’t been filled to Shymkent (the closest city to the Uzbek border). I needn’t have worried as there were half a dozen coaches heading that direction. I wandered around a couple trying to work out when they were leaving, unfortunately nobody spoke any English so after the 5th bus still didn’t know what in was trying to convey I just decided to go with them. It was a step up fro!m other over night busses as this one you received your own actual bed space, complete with pillow and blanket. We also left 5 minutes after I had got on, at 1900, so a double bonus.
We stopped at about 2030 briefly and also at midnight. At the midnight stop there seemed to be every bus in Kazakhstan there also. At least a dozen coaches had stopped there. Not wanting to queue ages for the gents I decided to find a dark area of scrub, off the parking area, away from everything (as I have done so before) but just as I found somewhere suitable a guy flashed a high powered torch at me and then threw three rocks, whilst walking towards me and shouting in Kazakh. I presume you’re not allowed to wee there.