Day 23 – Are we there yet?

Friday 19 September 2014

Oh my absolute … today is best represented in a timeline. Be aware I am seriously peeved.

(all times 24 hour clock)
0820 – leave hotel for bazaar
0850 – arrive at South Bus Station, Nukus.
0905 – get bored of taxi drivers and wander into the bus station building
0910 – buy bus ticket for 1100 departure to Nukus
1055 – board bus
1058 – change seats in bus to be out the sun. Notice the cramped space and the fact the seats autorecline when you push into them.
1110 – other buses scheduled to leave at 1100 depart
1130 – figure we’re leaving at midday; there is a Tashkent bus due to leave then.
1200 – get asked to move my rucksack from the seat next to me as someone wants to sit down
1230 – still in bus station
1300 – no evidence of anyone in any particular hurry
1315 – engine starts
1335 – engine stops
1340 – about to commit murder. A fly gets my full wrath
1403 – engine restarts
1410 – moved, finally … to the entrance at least
1413 – leave the station, come to a halt on the main road outside the station
1426 – is this it? Are we moving?
1428 – drive 200 yards round a corner, stop again to let someone on selling stuff
1431 – pull away slowly. I think we’re off …
1440 – stop/start at police checkpoint for 8 minutes
1558 – stop by the side of the road for 1min for someone to offer prayers and goodwill
1632 – barely slow down at Beruni to let a passenger disembark. Going well but could do with a drink
1656 – stop in some obscure village for 3min while several women struggle to disembark
1708 – repeat above for 2min tho no-one seemed to actually get off …
1712 – I feel like I’m actually in a marshrutka …
1726 – oooh, have we finally hit the desert?
1728 – ah hah the railway’s finally left us to go to Navoi. Oh wait, no it hasn’t
1732 – yep, this is the desert
1733 – and now finally goes the railway
1740 – another checkpoint; someone came on with water, got to the person in front of me, and buggered off. Did buy a couple of crepes though from another vendor.
1753 – running repairs made to a ventilation shaft that won’t close; now filled with rags. What sort of a coach am I on?!
1817 – still in the desert. The shadows are lengthening
1838 – going slow behind a car for no discernible reason. Oooh, checkpoint? No, a rest stop for 9min. I have water, yay. 271 or 291km to Bukhara, soul-destroying as means another 3 hours on the bus.
1856 – lordi, why are we going so slow now?
1858 – cos of imminent roadworks; the nice smooth dual carriageway we were on has stopped
1910 – still in the desert. Getting dark
1930 – oh god they’re still building the road
1950 – this isn’t a road, it’s a feckin’ dirt track
2007 – oh that was a good bit of road for 2min, shame it didn’t last
2008 – ah, another checkpoint to pause 3min at
2013 – ooh the coach does have internal lights, tho they don’t stay on for long. And the road’s improved again
2023 – still in the desert. There are lights in the distance, is this the town that’s about 140km from Bukhara?
2051 – still in the desert. No idea about the town as we didn’t pass through it
2103 – stars are bright tonight …
2109 – it’s only the thought I should be in bed in 2 hours that keeps me going
2120 – another 3min checkpoint
2134 – we’ve stopped somewhere, for what I don’t know, oh food apparently
2227 – it seems we’ve stopped here for the night; we won’t get to Bukhara till 5am. WTF?!
2300 – speaking with locals via very pretentious phrasebook. Forced to eat. Still very annoyed. Assume we sleep on bus and won’t move till 4am
2314 – bored. Eaten. Can’t board bus yet
2344 – not allowed to reboard till 4am. Managed to get some stuff off, having to crawl down the aisle under the drivers sleeping across the seats, like something out of a kids TV gameshow
0113 – most of the rest of the bus are settling down to sleep, on the benches where they had food, in the main, tho some are still chatting. There are in fact two buses here – the other is headed back towards Nukus. This is all so alien to me
0345 – engine starts up again
0353 – reboarded. Feels strange doing this again. Suspect it’s only an hour to Bukhara too
0359 – I feel oddly comfortable about this journey now
0402 – on the road again
0418 – oh don’t fall asleep now! Surely the road’s too bumpy anyway?
0448 – a few people get out at some bazaar. Hope that wasn’t my stop, they’d have told me, surely
0510 – it did feel like a big urban area tho
0518 – oh but this feels urban too
0528 – dawn’s starting to creep through. The 5am estimate arrival time is ‘concerning’
0536 – we seem to have stopped to help someone on the road. The driver keeps asking if I want to go to Samarkand
0541 – apparently this is ‘airport’? We’re moving again
0550 – dumped out of coach at a police checkpoint – no idea where the fuck I am or what’s going on
0600 – I am 54km in the wrong direction; beyond Bukhara. Fuck the what?
0610 – in the cab of a Turkish lorry, headed towards Bukhara, thanks to the checkpoint officers. Oddly it’s the warmest place I’ve been all day
0615 – full daylight
0618 – slowest lorry in the world. This will take an hour …
0640 – the view of the road from the cab is fab!
0703 – arrive at the Karkon Bazaar drop-off point. Where I should have been 2 hours ago
0710 – in a taxi to the city centre
0719 – in the city centre now where’s the hostel
0730 – made it!

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