We headed out from our hostel about 9am and spent the entire next hour looking for petrol. For some bizarre reason, all the gas stations in Uzbekistan are deserted and petrol/diesel can be found nowhere.
Our B&B owner told us to go look next to Hotel Asra, which led us on a wild goose chase. We found two people manning a house next to Hotel Asra. They spoke no English and could not figure out what these bizarre travelers wanted. Despite our best efforts to explain that we had been sent by so-and-so B&B owner, who had told us that there would be petrol available here, they were baffled.
They fetched a third guy from the hotel next door to speak to us. Being in the hospitality business, this person spoke some English and explained to us that we must have the wrong location. These guys do not sell petrol. They eventually explained us how to reach another petrol station. This time we managed to get where we should have, but it turned out to be a propane gas station, a seemingly popular method of fueling vehicles in Uzbekistan given the lack of petrol.
We asked around at this gas station where we could find petrol. A helpful customer said, “Give me 2 minutes. I’m nearly done. I’ll take you there.” He asked us to follow him in his car and led us to an inconspicuous auto repair shop. The owner of this shop, who seemed to be a personal friend of our navigator, was selling fuel out of unmarked bottles. We had never been so happy to smell petrol! He filled up our tank and our jerry cans too.
As expressions of our gratitude, we took some photos with the owner and his family, and printed out some photos with our portable photo printer. They were so happy and amazed that it was well worth the effort spending an hour looking for petrol. The wife of the owner even tried to pay us 1000 Som for the photos but we refused. It was beautiful watching the owner’s little boy being amazed and happy seeing his own photo in his hands.
This is one of the best parts of travelling in Central Asia, and Uzbekistan in particular. People are warm, hospitable and kind. Even if they don’t know how to help you, they will go out of their way to find someone who can.
After refueling and a long, 6-hour drive, we reached Bukhara. We went straight to the B&B that our host from Khiva had recommended. The B&B was spacious, clean and we had a massive room. It also seemed pretty popular with backpackers and ralliers.
We took a walk around the city around 5:30pm but felt exhausted from the heat pretty soon. But without a doubt, the city was breathtakingly beautiful. Bukhara, located strategically on the Silk Road, has long served as the heart of trade, intellect and religion. With its numerous historical sites, the city is full of beautiful mosques and madrassas making it an important location for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
After a stroll through town, we had a lovely four course homemade vegetarian meal made in the B&B kitchen for a mere USD 5.
We desperately needed to wash some clothes and clean our cooler which stank of stale water. Once done with our chores, we got a call from Jeroene and Joanna. They had arrived in Bukhara as well. We met them for a drink, had a them check into our hotel, and then hung out with a lovely couple from Australia and a few French cyclists staying at our B&B.
Despite the heat, we had a wonderful day exploring Bukhara. We would try to take it easy on our short drive to Samarkand the following day, but are still worried about our car and the Pamir Highway, which may or may not be accessible.
This post is part of a series covering my trip across Central Asia in four weeks.