Together in Samarkand.

As planned the Anglophone group met up in Shakhrisabz on the 7th of June.

Womble, Bigfoot and Mog having driven there directly from Bukhara on the southern route (via Karsi and Guzar). Kon-Tiki and K-Nine had spent longer getting there and had come via a more circuitous route that had, unfortunately, included the town of Navoi were they encountered considerable problems with the police.

If you intend to stay in Uzbekistan more than 15 days you must register within three days with the OVIR. When we arrived in Bukhara we tried to register directly with the OVIR office and even with a guide/translator we were unable to do so. We were told by the OVIR that we must register via our hotel! Because we ended up camping in the bus garage of the Old Bukhara Hotel the hotel agreed to register us and provided us with the appropriate stamped docket. Unfortunately the Navoi police were determined that an OVIR stamp on our visa was the only acceptable proof of registration! In the end Kon-Tiki and K-Nine simply drove away from the police check point challenging the police to stop them. So far no problem!

After meeting up in Shakhrisabz we had intended to eat out and camp in a quiet square, however the local kids were both noisy and had become a nuisance stealing removable bits from the vans (light covers, tire valve covers etc.). The group eventually decided to wild camp by the road to Samarkand. An excellent decision since we found a splendid "view point" on the mountain road and ate a group meal at a fine kebab restaurant 100m up the road. We took our own local wine, some of which was drinkable, and nearly all of which was drunk.

On the morning of the 8th of June we drove into Samarkand and camped in the parking lot of the Hotel Zarafshan (N39.64803 E066.95837) for $5USA per van per day. A good place to park with reasonable security, electricity (the first since Istanbul) and ,we think, water. There may also be a laundry service.

Stephen Stewart.

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