Heat and History

HSo, the idea came from a book, something I have read ages ago. It said things about this very ancient routs, centuries before Christ ,which was used for trade and spoke of a civilisation no longer around. I thought about it years ago and tucked it away in a corner of my brain, well the empty one!  Though at the moment all of it feels empty .

When it was suggested to me last autumn that we take this trip by a friend, I have lost touch with ,and a chance of this holiday came up I thought I will have a go

The good part of this holiday was that I was being picked up from home and brought back, inclusive of the price, by the holiday company.

Tuesday dawned, and as if it was my lucky day, the sun shone and the car arrived on time and wishing hours found myself along with two others dropped off at Heathrow.

For the time of the year the airport ,or Terminal 4 was reasonably quite, may be the rush was at other terminals. Check in was immediate and once free of luggage I was free to roam. My friend arrived and we had a lot to catch up over coffee. And before we knew we were boarding our flight.

We travelled with Uzbekistan Airways, modest and a bit run down. food was un remarkable , the hostesses barely spoke any English, but we managed with sign language and managed to get to our destination safely.

Tashkent airport will not be in competition for the best looking or the most efficient airport. One thing though did strike us as remarkable.

Business class passengers were allowed to disembark first while the hostesses stood against the passengers from economy, a bit embarrassing I thought as we have this splashed out on a business class, the fare was a lot cheaper and the economy class looked really cramp. Once on ground , there was a coach to whisk us away first to a different passport check in. So we were in a very short queue, and we out the otherwise to a self contained area with massive leather couches and a bar with water and various drinks and tea and coffee and wall units bursting with all kinds spirits and variants on Vodka!

Well I decided to pass  over the temptation, it was only eight in the morning, and we settled on one of those  deep leather couches. The temperature outside was already 26c.

It then dawned on me that confutable couches were there to ease our pain, the luggage was a very long time coming. When it did come, it wasn’t on a modern carousel, a lorry backed up and two men threw the suitcases on the long steel table ,with was no carousel. Luckily there were that many of us, the business class only had some 20 seats, and as business classes go it was very basic. Instead of there being three seats in a row in the economy, there were just two, and slightly bigger, I have travelled in more comfortable railway carriages!

We had another flight to catch, the holiday company rep; was waiting for us. One thing though , the coaches sent to pick you up never ever park at a convenient place, they are always a very long way away,I mean really long way, and you have to walk to them, dragging your luggage, while the sun beats down on you. And the Uzbeks are very found of making high steps wherever they can. You will be merrily pulling your case minding your own business, and suddenly you will hit this high kerb out of nowhere. There are a few in our group who have hip and knee problems and is very hard for them, steps everywhere are very deep and narrow and sometimes the slope downwards. They obviously like a challenge.

The internal airport is a newly built building, massive, huge hall ,spiral staircases, alcoves, tiles and paintings, but just ONE toilet! We all queued being British, and marvelled as to what might have been behind the thinking of just building one toilet, it is not that they are short of room, the one bathroom where the toilet is situated is massive, with a very large cabin built in it which houses one toilet! We thought perhaps it has shower as well it looked large enough to accommodate  two shower cubicles, but contains just one toilet.

Well we put it down to hey it a foreign country they do things differently there.

But we had some more surprises in store, there are no trolleys for the luggage anywhere, the coach drops you off at least half a mile away and then you drag your luggage, and then out of nowhere you hit this high kerb and slopes to pull your suitcase up, I silently thanked my stars that I go to the gym and do lift some weights , phew!

There are 2-3 checkouts before get to the building, your passport is checked , body scanned and luggage x-rayed, you can imagine how long the walk is to the terminal. Actually am from the  west, where things are done to make our life easy, disabled and infirm are catered for, and do things with the least of inconvenience .

And our security services keep us safe without being in our face, they do search your stuff at Heathrow,only once, not every few steps and they do it politely and in a very un threatening manner. So my gratitude and appreciation of our secret services has gone up many fold. Thank you.

We were told that the plane we will be travelling is a propeller driven one. Yes you read it right, I know it is the 21st century and all that and this country is very rich in natural gas, uranium ,gold, copper and silver, may be the money is not put into making life easier or safer for the masses, the old Soviet attitude still prevails.

The plane was shabby, small and very noisy. The seats have lost most of its oomph, they were lumpy and wouldn’t stay in the upright position.The plane was like a hammock, swaying from side to side and dipping without warning. I think all of studied the emergency  booklet many times during the flight.

We arrived at Khieva airport at 4PM , the sun was beating down and the it was 35c in the shade, and of course the coach was waiting for us miles away, they have built new airports but no one has made provision for buses/cars to get nearer the gates, they like us to walk miles with our luggage .

It was another hours journey to the hotel, we got there at around five and by now we were really and truly knackered!

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