• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 8

Day 8 – 3rd January 2020

Uruzibet left at Nukus (around 4am) to gift me the sole occupancy of the compartment back, although I had no way of knowing how long for? As it panned out it was for about six hours. An Uzbek couple in their fifties joined the compartment, and although they were very nice, they were as welcome as salmonella at the good food show. It seems a tradition or perhaps custom is a better word for sharing food with strangers. Almost as though everyone is a guest. I tried so hard to be polite but they kept offering me their meals. I courteously declined most of it but when the lady presented the goat stew, I am afraid the lines of saliva dripping off my chin were a bit of a give-away, and I had to succumb. At the end of it they also presented me with an individually wrapped Turkish delight. So lovely of them. It was very difficult not to do an Oliver, but I resisted.

Even though Uzbekistan isn’t anywhere as near as a hostile landscape, that I witnessed in Kazakhstan, there are still vast tracts of desert lands.

I have managed to get around the train a bit today, mainly through boredom really. The landscape out of the windows is so hostile, I almost feel like I am on a Mars probe.

A travelling salesman, who boarded the train for a couple of stops introduced me to a very useful device. It is a Tasky comb travel set. Best to show you its design below.

The idea being that you can always stay well groomed whilst travelling. Behind the right hand edge as you look at the photo there is a hook. Now the complete kit as I purchased it (obvious bargain) came with a little, hardly visible chain, that conveniently loops around the ear for comfort to easily assist the discernible traveller. When not in use the chain stays around the ear whilst the action end tucks into a nearby pocket. The whole apparatus was sold to me in a beige lightweight travel case, and comes with a manufacturers warranty against normal wear and tear. If you ask me it is an ideal gift for the hirsute journeyman.

The people that I sat down to speak to on the train are from many different backgrounds and nationalities. Besides being on a three day train to Tashkent they pretty much all share one thing in common. That is after a short period of conversation they all fall asleep. I think that I may have become quite subliminally a natural hypnotist. I did speak to one blind Uzbek chap who I think, was faking his somnambulism – I couldn’t tell. You see I start to doze when they give me "Dibri Dobris" which has a reverse knock on effect with them. So after this trip my CV will have to be expanded past Stork rustler and onto hypnosis consultant. For some reason I am reminded of the time I sought help for an eating disorder. I actually got through to a plumbers chat line. I knew that I was destined for little or no joy when the girl on the other end said, “Radiators or Boilers?”

When the train pulled out of Shahgara a mate of Uruzibet came to my compartment and presented me with a loaf, compliments of my departed compartment buddy, who had left the train some 9 hours earlier. I was so touched by this act of kindness, that I ate the bread more slowly than usual as an act of respect.

As you will see from below, the notes are detailing the three day train ride. It was about 9pm on the third day, somewhere just after Samarkandland, when I discovered that there was a foot pedal flush on the train toilet. What a revelation! Inside the WC there was a long wicker brush in the shape of a hurling stick, alongside half cut plastic water bottles. The process, so I thought for the last two and three quarter days, was to complete your activities, fill the plastic vessel with tap water, pour it down the loo and then use the hurling stick in a prodding motion. The stick forced down the little parcel shelf inside the loo to dispose of the material that you had said goodbye to. The pedal flush complete with gushing water, from… well I don’t know where from as I am not an engineer, was fantastic technology. As well as pouring copious water into the toilet, it also released mechanically, the little stainless steel parcel shelf. It was so good I made sure that I went another four times over the three hours left of the journey.

The train arrived on schedule just after midnight. I then had to go through the bartering system of organising the taxi to the hotel. There are around 9200 Uzbek Som to the dollar so whilst the taxi fare was around two and a half dollars ( for about 9 miles) it equated to around thirteen notes.

An overdue shower awaits.

Notes on a three day train journey: Day 1 Russia 13:10 Volgograd – 13:53 Volzhskiy – 14:34 Leninsk – 16:32 Aktyubinsk – 17:28 Verkinnly Bashunchak – 20:32 Navraminov – Day 2 Kazakhstan 02:14 Astok – 06:50 Atyrau – 15:06 Bhezney – Uzbekistan – 18:41 Kyrakalpakia – Day 3 Uzbekistan – 02:05 Ungrada – 03:57 Nukus – 14:03 Shahgara – 16:33 Bukhara – 21:12 Samarkand - Day 4 Uzbekistan - 00:17 Tashkent

Position: 41°19'27” N 69°14'30”E – Miles completed: 04519

Location: Tashkent, Uzbekistan. 00:57 - 4th January 2020 - Journey 8 days 23 hours

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