We the undersigned...
Our second night in the Fergana Valley was spent wild camped south east of Ristan, well off the road. During the afternoon we were passed by a solitary man on a bicycle who returned 15 minutes later with a large bag of apricots as a gift.
Having spent an undisturbed night, just as we were leaving, we found ourselves surrounded by 15 armed soldiers who politely demanded our passports and enquired if we were "touristic". Having established that we were indeed "touristic" and had valid visas for Uzbekistan there were handshakes all round and they left.
A large part of the 14th was spent at the Yodgorlik Silk Factory (N40.476615 E071.715639 ) in Margilan where we were shown round by "Davlat" the excellent English speaking chief fabric designer. Recommended.
We planned to spend the night of the 14th camped at the Hotel Zolotaya Dolina in Andijan (described by Lonely Planet as renovated - I think not!). The hotel has now changed its name from Russian to Uzbek and is called the Hotel Oltin Vodiy (Gold Valley), the new telephone number is 24-20-13 (N40.750083 E072.352946). The hotel still houses the local branch of Uzbektourism who's phone number is 46-11-06.
Enquires of the police in central Andijan resulted in a police escort (through red lights) to the hotel. Negotiations with the hotel to camp in their car park progressed satisfactorily until the arrival of an OVIR officer who asked to see our passports and visas. He then announced, over a period of 90 minutes, that:
During these discussions a number of English speaking students and teachers arrived and greatly assisted the negotiations. One teacher, who was particularly helpful and keen to be contacted by future "overlanders" was Azizhon (Alex) Hodjaev who can be contacted by phone on (+998 742) 25-43-94 or 46-95-12 or by e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Other students spoke French and German. It also appeared that "home-stay" accommodation could be arranged by Azizhon.
Eventually it was agreed we could stay put if we signed an indemnity for the hotel. This was duly written out by Clive and signed by all of us. It read:
After this document was signed and delivered (to the OVIR not the hotel?) we were permitted to stay and a police guard was posted on the hotel car park gate. The hotel provided water and electricity at what is becoming the standard Uzbekistan rate of $5USA per van per night.
On the morning of the 15th we visited the offices of Uzbektourism where we met two man from Kyrgyzstan Tourism (based in Osh) who had come to Andijan specifically to see us. They offered to arrange secure parking for us in Osh for two days and to meet us at the border! They also confirmed that the road from Osh to Bishkek was open, easily passible and they also saw no problem with wild camping on this road.
We were also informed (by "Victor" of Kyrgyzstan Tourism in Osh) that as from the 1st of June 2002 it was possible for foreign vehicles to cross from Kyrgyzstan to China at Irkeshtam. We have no means of verifying this information.
There is now an Internet Cafe in Andijan at St Hmir Umarkhan 18, run by the ever helpfull Bahtiyar Hizmedor (see www.andpost.h1.ru)
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