We never planned on spending long in Tashkent, particularly because there’s not a lot to see here compared to other places in Uzbekistan. However things don’t always go as planned, especially on a trip like this. We ended up spending more time in Tashkent than we have in any other single place. Luckily we were well looked after.
Some time was put aside for my kazak visa, we read it would take about 4 days. It was a Friday when we arrived, due to the border guards taking their sweet arse time we got into Tashkent late in the arvo. Thus were unable to apply for the visa until Monday. We managed to get a hotel for the two crews at the grand orzu but it was $75 a night. Expensive. We were happy to call it a night as it was late and we had been searching all over town, everything was full due numerous exhibitions.
That night I was hit by a major case of tap arse. It’s bad enough to get the shits when traveling but being in a wheelchair creates even more of a nightmare.
We had to check out the next morning because the hotel was full, thank Christ because that room will never be the same.
Luckily we had made a booking some time ago as we needed an address to post parcels too. Hotels were the only go for us at this stage not only because of registration but because now both of us needed to be within close proximity of a toilet.
The following day things weren’t getting much better, particularly for Jess so we decided to see a doctor. Turned out Jess had giardia from bad water on top of a bad case of gastro. This at least got some answers for us. The bad news got even worse after a brief visit to the kazak embassy to be told that we can collect the passport next Monday 6pm. Over another week of waiting in Tashkent, we just checked out because the hotel was booked out along with everything else in town. That arvo we went to find a mechanic to get a few problems on the troopy sorted. After googling we found one that came well recommended. Upon arriving we met with the manager, a young Uzbek bloke called Jaha. He spoke good English and had a filthy sense of humour. He was very welcoming and inviting offering to help us out with anything on the car and in general. We mentioned about the lack of hotels and he was straight on the phone. With in a few minutes he had sorted an illegal apartment that we could stay in for a week. He insisted on showing us where it was to make sure we were satisfied. For only $60 a night it was much better than any hotel, particularly since we had more room, a kitchen and laundry. But he didn’t stop there he invited us out to his favourite local restaurant with one of his childhood friends. The hospitality was incredible for a bloke who’d we only just met.
That was one thing that came good since entering Uzbekistan, if only that was the case for the rest of our affairs.
The next morn we were off to the workshop to get started on working with the car. There were a few oil leaks and that axle bearing that disintegrated in Tajikistan. Firstly we needed to track down parts, there is no Toyota dealers in Uzbekistan as all cars are heavily taxed except for the locally built GM models. All parts come from the car bazar. We gave a list of what was needed the prior day to Jaha and once again they had come through. Everything was there bar the driveline bush. We started stripping the car down do get to the source of the oil leak in the front diff. Upon tearing down the front steering knuckle we found a mess of metal and brass filings. The same drive line bearing disintegrated but on the passengers side. I was told to upgrade the brass bush to a needle roller bearing, seems they just can’t cut it as both sides self destructed in the driveline. This one did so silently though which was a major problem as the shards of metal travelled all through the front steering knuckle causing all sorts of problems. Not what we needed. The bearing had basically fused itself to the driveshaft. I’ve no idea how we didn’t hear it as we noticed the other side immediately.
I got to determining what other parts had failed and luckily it was only one bearing in the bottom of the knuckle which ended up with all the crap in it. The guys got onto it again and had a bearing in no time, they had also sent the axle and spindle off to a machinist to have them fix the damage. They decided also that it would be easier to make a brass bush than try and find one. The oil leak was caused by the excessive movement in the axle so a new seal was also on order.
We woke the next day hoping to try and turn our luck around. No such luck, I noticed my urine was cloudy and had a lot of sediment the first signs of the infection returning. Hoping in vain that it was something else I did a quick test and despite the last course of antibiotics and hospital stays the infection was back. We really started questioning if we were being over ambitious about Cape Town being our final destination. With the car falling apart, both Jess and I ill left us with a fair bit of doubt.
Because we were staying illegally in a rented apartment we couldn’t be registered there. This can cause big problems as you are meant to be registered for every day that you stay in Uzbekistan. Jaha offered to sort this out for us. We followed him to various hotels in Tashkent as he tried to explain our predicament and butter some palms in order to get the registration sorted. It wasn’t working, by the time we got to the third hotel we learned that they all handed their books in the day prior and nothing can be done. We had no choice but to stay illegally.
We decided to give up on it and head for the workshop. When we arrived all the parts were there better yet a machined brass bush pressed in it the spindle and the drive shaft machines and ready to go. What service.
One of the mechanics was assigned to help me re-assemble the car along with Jess’s handy work. We got to it fixing a bunch of other things which had worn out. Rocker cover gasket, front leaf spring bushes, steering rod ends, oil change refitting the intercooler and the driveline bushes.
We had almost finished it all but it was time for the guys to knock off, they had also appointed their parts delivery driver to be our personal taxi while the troopy was off the road.
Final day we were back and got the wheel alignment done after repairing the steering rod ends and refitted the intercooler for the long hot desert roads ahead.
We explained we were ready to pay the bill, they added up the price for the parts, oil and machining which came to $270. They refused to take any payment for labour and only wanted payment for any consumables.
Although we tried hard to pay for the labour they would not budge. We ended up giving them a little extra anyway including some to the mechanic who helped out the whole time.
After we got the car sorted we still had to wait for our kazak visa. During this time out host Jaha showed us around town to his favorite restaurants and shisha spots. We had a great time with him and the different friends he brought along with him.
When it finally came time to pick up our visas we decided to grab them at 6pm and head outta town that night. Saving ourselves another night in the apartment.
Of course Jaha wouldn’t have it he said why drive at night and insisted we stayed at the apartment another night so he could take us out again. He had told his father, a successful businessman about us and he was very keen to meet up. Unfortunately he couldn’t make it as he had an international colleague visiting but gave Jaha the money for our parts back and said that we had to take it as a sponsorship from his company (his dad owned the workshop). On top of that he gave us a decent sum of money to contribute towards our cause. Jaha told us it would be an insult not to take the money and insisted that we did. The hospitality is like nothing we had experienced on our trip. People we had only just met so willing to help us and our cause. Also the good times shared were invaluable. We did however buy Jaha a gift for everything he had done for us. The next morning we were off promising to keep in touch and sad to see a good friend go.