Monday, January 4, 2016
Central Asia: Uzbekistan - Getting to Khiva
We took a bus from near the B&B to the airport. The bus driver thought we wanted to go to the international airport and asked us to get off. Following our experience in Bishkek, we allocated ample of time for this flight as that was our first domestic flight in Uzbekistan. So we had enough time to wait for another public bus to get us to the domestic airport. Else we would have to pay through the nose to get a taxi as the driver would know we were desperate to get to the right airport. Anyway, this was minor glitch compared to incident in Manas Airport. Else, airport check in, boarding and all was seamless and no dramas.
Our flight was from Tashkent to Urgench. Ha! Uzbekistan Airways even served a bun with cheese fillings and water. Not too bad eh but that was actually lunch though. Plane and journey was fine, so Uzbekistan Airways is ok ;)
Before boarding, we were at the waiting area and noticed a couple of fellow travellers which we guessed would be heading to Khiva. There were 3 to be specific - a Japanese couple and a single traveller from Singapore. We found out later that he is a TV journalist from conversation later on when we met him again in Bukhara.
Khiva doesn't have airport and train station facilities, all visitors to Khiva would need to go through Urgench. One could commute on a trolley buses, marshrutka or taxi but taxi is the only one you could get from airport itself. We were contemplating to save cost by sharing taxi with the other travellers and thought we could approach them after reaching Urgench airport.
Well, things don't always go by plan. By the time we picked up our backpacks, the 3 travellers we think were heading to Khiva had already gone out. We approached the Singaporean TV journalist (Let's call him S - Singaporean) and he had already haggled and paid for a taxi. He was happy for us to join him in the cab though. However when his taxi driver saw us talking to him, the driver made it clear that he did not want to have us in his taxi. = ="
So sis sent me to ask the Japanese couple. Let's refer them as JM - Japanese male and JF - Japanese female. JF was in midst of conversation with a taxi driver. Mind you, she speaks fluent Uzbek language. No joke. I approached JM and told JF that sis and I wanted to share a taxi. JM was just hanging around, looking cool while JF was doing all the haggling. Grin. They were both happy for us to share the taxi as well but their taxi driver refused to have us too. T_T
JF was very helpful though, she spent time telling us how much it should cost for a taxi to get to Khiva, etc. The situation was pretty funny actually. JF was talking to us in Japanese as the drivers surrounding us would understand English, at the same time telling the taxi drivers to stop talking in Uzbek. Yea - it was all quite chaotic as the taxi drivers kept on talking over her to prevent her telling us things. A little unexpected that my shabby kindergarten level Japanese is of use in an unlikely Uzbekistan.
Well, we got to Khiva in a different taxi. We were not able to haggle to the price that JF told us but we did managed to reduce it. By the time we get to Khiva and checked in to a B&B, guess who we saw at the lobby? JF! She wasn't staying in the same B&B but visiting some friends who did. She actually works in Uzbekistan.
Side note: New year resolution #2 - Be more healthy, maybe start with eating better AND LESS GLUTTON (NY resolution #1)