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Greetings from Uzbekistan!

November 17, 2015 3 Comments

Despite all the warnings from others, we’re either not going to the right places, or all the baddies have left the country, or “the others” are wrong.

Uzbekistan fuel

Just part of the line up of cars to get fuel

We’re having a great time in this country, although getting hold of fuel, diesel (or dizel to the locals), is definitely a trick. A work of art really. But Barry and I could get beer from an alcohol-free Indonesian Island black market, so we thought getting dizel would be okay.

I think earlier this year in Uzbekistan, the deputy president/boss whoever, got sacked over a fuel shortage issue. Fuel queues for petrol can be three wide, stretch for two km and take four hours! Don’t take any whingeing from an Aussie again, ever! The day we got into the capital, Tashkent, the queues were as mentioned. And that was for petrol – dizel was a no go, none, nyet, zilch.

We talked around “the street” for two days and eventually the hotel manager, a young, presentable, clean cut, organised, capable and law abiding lad, “rang a friend”, and we were off. A 30km trip out of town, him in Barry’s car, to an old yard/workshop with a few old cars and a burnt out bus and a big lock on the main entry. A phone call, a wait and we had 100 litres, in drums, for 4500 som per litre ($0.75 per litre), and that was twice the legal price. If you could get it legally.

Next time you’re at a servo, have a look at the colour of the diesel. It can be yellowy, or even have a blueish tinge, or look like young chardonnay. The guy dealing out the drums of this stuff for us assured us in his fluent English (not), that it was high quality: He stuck his thumb up confidently, as a black, coca-cola sludge came out of the drum into our jerry can for transfer. Poor old Barry was having kittens, watching this stuff ooze out, thinking about his $7000 computerised, force fed, common-rail injection system. Whereas my old 80 series Cruiser will run on kerosene! For a while, anyway.

While we were waiting for the fuel I went for a little walk around the depot. The burnt out bus was a write off, but it had a Uzbek number plate on the front! So, I beckoned the hotel manager over, showed him the plate, indicated I collect them, and could I nick this one. Oh no, that would be criminal. I didn’t labour the point, we just went back and waited for the illegal fuel.

Barry has this little habit of, every now and then, giving me a tap up the rear with his Ford, while we are stopped in traffic. So on the way back, with the manager in Barry’s car and Barry leading, I returned the favour. Well, the poor old manager thought the world had come to an end. He always treated us more cautiously after that fuel run!

One night at Tashkent, we were enjoying a game of cards and a few drinks, when the manager came over. He asked if I could come out to my car. (Both cars were parked out the front of the hotel). Okay, no sweat, I got up and wandered out. The Cruiser was on fire!

No flames were visible, but the cabin was so full of smoke you couldn’t see inside and smoke was billowing out from under the bonnet. Serious billowing.

I ran back inside and Lynn, who recognizes alarm when she sees it, and in answer to my yell, threw me the room key on my way past. I galloped on and grabbed the car keys, saying “be calm”, while my feet were sliding all over the tile floors.

I unlocked the driver’s door while Barry, expertly and patiently waited at the bonnet, to crack it a bit. I pulled the bonnet latch and I swear I could see a yellow flame somewhere under the dash. At that stage all I could think was that it was all over and we’d have to buy a Lada Niva to carry on.

I grabbed the fire extinguisher from under the driver’s seat, gave the under dash a spot, went around to the front, smoke everywhere, and when Barry cracked the bonnet a frag, I gave the source a quick hit. Not too much, in case I need more, and anyway, it’s bloody hard to clean up after.

After confirming the fire was out and disconnecting the batteries, we went to bed.

The next day was fine, a warm, sunny eight °C, and I spent virtually all of it removing the offending wiring. Some retro-fitted auxiliary wires (not by me!) had shorted out and melted their way from the rear bumper to the auxiliary battery. It appeared the battery relay system was intact, so I got an auto-electrician to check it at Samarkand and I think it is okay.

The offending wires are now gone and I have replaced a few vital power wires and we seem to be back on track. Very close indeed.

That night, and the next day, there was no banter amongst us as to which car was better etc – none at all. We all realized how close to disaster we were and that subject discussion was unnecessary. (Barry has, since then made a texta-colour mark, or notch, on his bonnet, to tally one up against the Cruiser!)

See ya!

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Comments (3)

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  1. Aziza says:

    Hello my dear Australian friends!
    I am very glad you made it safely to the neighboring Uzbekistan from our friendly Kyrgyzstan 🙂 however it is sad to “hear” that you’ve already had some troubles there, hope that everything is good now and the issue with your car is successfully resolved.
    How is your journey in Uzbekistan going so far?

    best of luck
    (p.s. Bishkek, Semetey Hotel 🙂 )

  2. Alan says:

    Hi Aziza, wonderful to hear from you, and we welcome your contact. Yes, we are now in Georgia, yes we had some issues, but that is all part of the journey! The people in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have been wonderful. A pleasure to talk to and interact with. Please send the email address to this site, our moderator will protect it, and send it privately to us. We can then make contact if yu like, to chase up the work in Australia for you!! Best regards and thanks for the call, Alan and Lynn.

  3. Parviz says:

    Hi. This is me, Parviz from Azerbaycan. How is yoir trip? I wish you all success in your world cruise……

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