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Pillion Annie's Baptism of Fire
Submitted by Tiffany on 23 June, 2009 - 13:43
A traumatic start to Annie's journey with me and here is how it unfolded-
Day One - only 30 mins later leaving the hotel than planned - the reception machine bounced back Annie's husband's credit card (nice gesture Terry, but we ended up having to pay cash).
Accompanied to the border by Vlad and Masha in his car - the only Toyota Prius in Uzbekistan apparently- but as I am sooo bad at identifying cars I still had problems trying to spot him and follow his lead- which obviously does not reflect well on my observational skills as most of the vehicles here are Ladas. We also had Jenjy (Eugene) and his girlfriend Anne as outriders on his Suzuki GSXR (extremely fast bike for those not in the know).
So a speedy trip to the frontier in convoy- as we said farewell and thank you to them at the border - Vlad looking Thelma over, noticed that the rubber boot at the top of the shaft had split- whoops, we had taken a look at it the previous day and it had looked fine.
We didn't have the time on our visas to return to Tashkent to fix the problem and so an emergency roadside repair was required - Vlad used my penknife to create a cover out of a plastic water bottle and then sellotaped and cable-tied it into position - a bit rough and ready looking but it would have to do. We have the spare part with us and will get it put on at the next major city, unfortunately that is 400kms and a couple of high mountain ranges away.
At the border crossing, the Uzbeki guards were very thorough in their search (which as we are leaving the country seemed a bit odd), they x-rayed every bag and started searching through them by hand as well- the sort of treatment I have only seen at an Israeli border several years ago. It was going to take a long time so drastic action was required - I went very pale and vomited copiously at the entrance to their office - not surprisingly they quickly decided that their search was over and they urged us to continue our journey (yes, Annie did take a picture).
Before we copuld leave though, the cleaner came over and stroppily thrust a brush and pan into my weak and clammy hands. I was unable to stand up at this point. Luckily the sniffer dog came to investigate and liking what he saw, proceeded to eat the vomit on the ground which made me feel better as he was looking a bit emaciated and I knew that this was defeintielyone meal that included the five food groups.
The Tajiki border guards were much nicer and quicker (maybe my reputation had preceded me), 30 minutes with them and we were on our way with a cheery wave (and was that a look of relief on their faces I saw?).
The good tarmac road was a welcome start to the country as both of us now had ominous stomach cramps, it was incredibly hot and we were keen to stop - but it was 50 miles before we reached the city of Korjand and the relative sanctuary of the excitingly named Leninabad Hotel - a multi-storey canary yellow masterpiece of crumbling soviet concrete.
Our room was on the second floor and the lift was broken (ah yes this is another fact of life with ex-soviet buildings), I think it was the climb up the stairs that did it but we had only been in the room two minutes when I was once more explosively sick, in my desperate need to stop the vomit hitting the beds it went all over me including down my bra. Annie was speechless and for once did not reach for the camera.
It got worse, the shower didn't work - oh dear I thought as I attempted to wash myself using the water dribbling out of the taps in the sink. We both crashed out asleep for the next 14 hours, we were obviously in a bad way, as neither the raucous wedding party nor the stadium concert with Wembley-sized speakers across the road didn't waken us.
However what did wake us at 10.30pm was the very disagreeable manager pounding at the door and trying to get into the room whilst demanding money and passports. I pulled on some clothes- only slightly damp and sour-smelling (we had left all the luggage on Thelma parked out in the car park) and went out to reception to deal with him- which turned into a drama when he suddenly started demanding almost 50% more for use of the room than we had agreed- he became very aggressive and loud (yes Abi that was him NOT me!).
And because it was now almost 11pm and I felt like I was going to vomit again I just had to pay up - a very horrible man, so anyone going to Korjand, please never use the Leninabad Hotel.
Poor Annie - her first day on the road - I had embarrassed her and poisoned her and now she was having to sleep in a sick-room with a ranting mad man lurking outside the door.
I gave her the option of flying straight home.