We left ahead of the pack again for the Uzbekistan border crossing at Cinoz a distance of 194km. Pretty easy roads with lots of traffic but pretty easy to average 60km/h which seems to be the standard.
With the help of the excellent staff from Kyrgyz Concepts, the in-country support group, we were clear of the border and on our way to Tashkent, a mere 65km away down the motorway and into the suburbs. Tashkent feels as big as Sydney with a mix of western and Islamic architecture and rapidly growing fringe suburbs. The place feels prosperous. All signage is in Cyrillic so we are heavily reliant on the ERA road book and Colin’s navigation skills. The local drivers are courteous and let us cut in when we need to. The Princess is a beast on the road: the poor visibility and bulk make it a handful. Add to this RHD in countries where the cars are LHD and drive on the opposite side of the road to what we are used to and you can get some idea. The traffic was heavy, some stop-go and 4 lanes wide. Colin navigated us to the hotel without a hitch, both relieved to arrive at the Intercontinental about 1:00PM local time. We are now 5 hrs behind EST.
Rinse off the road grime and dust down for a beer and sandwich before checking the car over and reconnecting our batteries. Now we are confident that our electrical problems have been rectified. Then dinner in the hotel followed by a good night’s sleep.
When you are up with the pack the rallying and driving is much more fun: you don’t need to push yourself and the car to breaking point and you can get reasonable sleep. From here on in, our philosophy will be to leave early and be at the front of the pack, especially at the borders where the delays and frustrations can be interminable.
Some cars have lightened their loads by discarding camping gear, but the organisers have said keep sleeping bags as some of the hotels in the next leg through Turkmenistan have beds you wouldn’t want your body to touch. We can hardly wait.
Fingers crossed for a good trip to Samarkand and another comfy Intercontinental hotel tomorrow followed by a rest day.