Cycling 12,000 miles from Lisbon to Shanghai
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Day 200 (14/1/10) – Tashkent

Plov Glorious Plov and Airport Drama Parts 1 & 2

We pack the bikes as well as we can with loads of cardboard and gaffa tape. We then head up to a Plov restaurant for lunch – Thursday is apparently Plov day in Uzbekistan! We have an absolutely delicious feast of rice cooked with chicken, eggs and all sorts of good stuff which really does make the Kazakh plov we’d had a couple of times look like a third rate imitation.

After a death defyingly crazy hurtle across town in a little Daewoo taxi we have a final wander around Chorsu Bazaar as Y wants to get a scarf.

Before we know it is 8pm and time to lash our faithful ponies onto the roof of a taxi and head to the airport. It is finaIly sinking in that our trip is over and we are heading home.

At the airport we have a bit of a drama as we cause total bedlam and a half hour log-jam in the check-in queue with the bikes. Eventually we get everything sorted out and they even waived the $50 baggage fee we’d been told we would be charged, as long as we tipped the baggage handler who comes up to take our bikes with a couple of dollars. We then head straight over for drama #2 as we go through customs clearance.

OK so this one was kind of our fault. On the way into the country we had thought (given that we were in the middle of nowhere and on bicycles) that it would be prudent not to mention just how much cold hard cash we were carrying. There are no ATMs outside of Tashkent and so we had made sure to have enough US$ to last a full month. When leaving the country you have to fill in another form and on this I (stupidly) put the actual amount of cash I had left – which was $400 more than I’d said we had on the way in. Anyhoos it turns out that you are not allowed to take more cash out of the country than you brought in so we are told we must go and give away $400 to someone! After much pleading and even offering to pay a “fine” (which surprisingly was turned down) the guy agrees to let us through as long as we promise to spend $400 in duty free.

We finally make it safely through to the departure gate (somehow forgetting to visit duty free on the way of course) and find our flight is delayed by an hour and a half. This is no problem though as we have about 9hrs to wait in Urumqi for the first of our two connections in China.