its Information time. Let me share some useful info about Uzbekistan. Especially for no-budget traveller!
So I just crossed the Uzbek-Kazak border yesterday. Surprisingly things are smoother than I thought. I was expecting 3 hours of waiting, lots of checks and border control asking for money.. Sorry maybe my experience in Iran-Turkmen border still bothering me.
Back to the topic,
I have been worrying about the whole registration thing since the first day I entered Uzbekistan. Some says border control has fined people for over 3000 USD just because they didnt stay in hotel every night.
I tried to play safe, like staying in a hotel every other night. But it definitely gives pressure to my budget even they are 10$ Bnb.
Things are alright until Toshkent. As you can expect in most capital or big cities, it’s hard to find cheap hotels. The cheapest one is those hotel rooms in the city train station. They call it Komnata Otdaha (focus on “Kom” when you pronouncing it. I have problem telling the locals until I realise how to say that word)
And also I found a host on couchsurfing, which makes me totally forgot the registration issue.
After 3 night staying with my host, I spent a night in Komnata Otdaha. The bed in the dorm is clean and the air-con is working okay. Its 12$ per night without shower. Yes without shower. They charge extra 4000 Uzbek zym for a shower. I was thinking “okay, I am sweaty enough to take a shower tonight. take my money and show me my shower.” So they bought me upstairs to the “suite” and showed me the bathroom. Meanwhile, the cleaning lady said the owner may come back anytime.
Its fine for me but it seemed that the bathroom didnt like me at all. There’s only tiny little amount of water coming out from the tap. Not to mention its cold. So sadly I couldn’t take a shower for the second night. Lucky that the air-con kept me from stinking too bad.
And then I went for a little holiday in Charvak, a big lake around 100km away from Tashkent, while I was waiting for my travel document from Chinese Embassy. Putting all these into account, I was “disappeared” from the registration system for more than 5 days. To be honest, I was quite worried when I thought of the 3000$ fine.
The next day, I reached out for a hotel said to be helpful on this issue. Its name is Alitour Hotel, located in the north-east of Tashkent. The owner is a super chill guy. He brought us in, offering us Vodka and food and kept saying “No worry, be happy” I was being very direct and start asking about the registration issue. And in 15 minute of talk. He gave me some very useful info on the issue:
1. for some special case, you can register every 3 days, let say you are a cyclist and may have to camp sometimes next to the road.
2. for road border, like kazak-uzbek one, checking is not as careful as their counterpart in the airport.
3. the registration law is set up to fight against terrorism (its explainable but i doubt), so you are less likely to be checked if you are not from those terrorist-related countries.
He said he used to help people like me but at the moment he can’t as he just changed his hotel’s name. But he advised me to go to another hotel called ArtTravel. ” Davay davay! Samurai Samurai” Thats how he call my hairstyle. I have two more shots with him and then I left.
The Staff in ArtTravel is not as relax as Alitour. I spend almost one hour to explain my way of travel and to persuade them to register for me. First they ask for 15dollar per registration, and then it rised to 25$ after they knew that I have disappeared for 5 days. “It’s hard for us to explain where you are when the police ask. And you know the independent day is coming, the police are checking more often.” I spend another 30 min to talk it to 20$. Finally I left the hotel with a tiny piece of paper with the hotel stamp, claiming that I stay there after 3 nights of camping. It may not seem to help much but it’s a big confidence booze for me to crush border the next day.
The border is very close to tashkent city. It should take me only 20 minute to go there but it turned out to be more than 1 hour ride in the taxi as my host took me to the south of the city, trying to catch a bus.I kept telling him its non-sense to travel to the south but he just couldnt accept a traveller know the way better than he does. He also said that some border is close for some reason. I was a bit shaken by this reason. Anyway he made me travel to the south with him and waste 20 few thousand cym of his. The story proves again experienced traveller knows the way better than most locals.
Crossing the Uzbek-Kazak border at Zhibek Zholy
Its full of local people mix with some Kazaks. At the border, you will need to fill out another form as the others. It’s declaration of goods. Don’t worry about the money you wrote on the declaration form. They won’t check. The staff who checked the declaration form, although with a cold face, was quite friendly. He asked if I have tried any local food in the country and how did i like it. After a short chat, he let me pass. Here comes the next challenge. The passport check, It took me almost half an hour to get to the glass box where the staff sitting in. As i have imagined, it took him almost double amount of time to read through my passport than the others but it turned out alright. I got my stamp and finally leaving Uzbekistan.
Hah and they didn’t check my registration!! Thanks God. I hold myself from screaming out loud.
Entering Kazakhstan is a little bit more chaotic than I thought. The border staff was surprised to see me. And he asked where my visa is. I told him that my passport doesn’t need a visa to enter your country. He gave the passport to his senior and 10 minutes later, his senior come back with a smile and made everything smooth for me. Chop. Got my stamp and little registration paper. I am ready to hit Kazakhstan. While I was leaving the immigration building, I was glad that I am just one country away from China. So looking forward to hitch in my language.
My tactics on the registration issue would be:
1. To register every 3 nights. (either staying there or just getting the paper).
2. Disappearing too long makes you hard to get registration but 2 nights can be explained quite easily
3. Arrive the hotel at 1000-1200 if you plan to get registration without staying. Its easier for them to register you on the day just past.