We were to cross into Uzbekistan once more, this time through Oybek land border crossing to Tashkent. We had one day in the city before our early morning Moscow flight.
Getting the flight from Tashkent is another interesting story. Not anticipating Kyrgyz visa refusal, I had booked a cheap Aeroflight flight for Moscow from Bishkek. So confident was I that I did not even bother to spend a little extra to make it refundable. To our shock, Kyrgyz visa got rejected. This turned out to be better for us as we got to see Tajikistan specially Pamirs where we had some of the best times of our trip. Although the ticket was non-transferable, I decided to take a chance and called Aeroflot in Russia. To a pleasant surprise, they agreed to change the ticket to Tashkent instead of Bishkek at a fee of 50 USD and fare differnece. This was still better than losing the 140 USD all together. I checked the price for Tashkent ticket that was appearing around 160 USD. Not wanting to take any risks however, I decided to wait for my Uzbek visa arrival. By the time it came, the flight rates had gone up to around 200 USD. This turned out to be the biggest expense of ourtrip which was otherwise going very reasonable.
There is a daily bus between Khujand and Tashkent that leaves Khujand at 8 AM every morning and come back in the evening. Shared taxi is also an option however that would have meant changing multiple taxis so we decided to go with the bus which was cheaper too (50 soms). The bus took around an hour till the border. Border crossing at Oybek went very smooth and we were sitting again in the bus in less than an hour. It took another couple of hours or so till Tashkent.
We had booked Amir Khan hostel in Tashkent although we needed to leave in the mid night. We wanted to have some rest before the restless night and a hectic day coming next. Amir Khan hostel is an excellent option if you want to stay in budget. Dormitory beds are available as low as 6 USD per bed. It is a very well managed and clean stay option in Tashkent. The owner Azmat has seen any backpackers from Pakistan for the very first time.
In the evening after some rest, we went to see the Amir Taimur square and the Hasht Imam mosque. we offered evening prayers at the Hasht imam mosque. This is the first mosque I have seen anywhere where every person is provided with two towels before the wudu, red one for feet and white one for the face. After wudu, each person is sprayed with itr (perfumr), a very refreshing and interesting experience indeed. For our last Central Asian dinner, we went to Rai Khan restuarant upon Azmat’s recommendation. It turned out to be a great option with amazing food and ambience.