I had a bit of anxiety the night before we left Uzbekistan. When we entered the country, border control looked through my computer for 10 minutes with the search of “icons”. And hearing about two German girls who were stuck at the border for six hours because they went through every single picture on their smartphones.
In Tashkent we took a taxi from Topchan Hostel at about 08:30 to Kuylyuk Bazaar. We headed to the opposite side of the street (Автостанция Куйлюк Ц-1 on Maps.me). There are mini-buses and shared taxis. Ask to go to Oybek. We ended up getting a taxi to ourselves. For the both of us, it was 60,000UZS ($8.33 BM/$16.66 official).
It was suggested on Carivanistan that you change your UZS here to USD, but it was next to impossible. Robb went to three shady guys and all said no. One even quipped, “Dollars? [Laughs] No. Welcome to Uzbekistan!”
Our driver drove like a mad man, speeding his way to the border. The 86km drive took an hour.
Once at Oybek, we were met by grandmotherly moneychangers. They were willing to take our UZS in exchange for Tajikistan Somani (TJS) for a decent exchange. One problem solved!
Then we walked to the pedestrian crossing. An Uzbek soldier with a rifle asked for our passports. “Tourists?” he asked. “Da,” we replied. And he let us through.
We went to the first building, but there was no one inside. Then, the next building was were we had to fill out our customs form. We copied and pasted our previous information and how much less USD we had. I handed the customs form to the guy and had my bags x-rayed. The X-ray guy smiled and let me through. Same with Robb. I went back to the customs officer to get back our passports. He asked, “Husband?” to me. I thought he said “Passport”. Robb quickly said, “Yes, husband.”
We went to another line to get stamped out. Of course, two elderly men cut in front of us. I got to the window eventually. He asked to see all my registration cards, skimmed it then I got stamped out of Uzbekistan. The immigration guy didn’t even look at Robb’s registration cards.
And that was it. No looking at our laptops or smartphones. No random touching of inside our bags. No confiscated items.
We walked through no-man’s-land to the Tajik side of the border. Immigration was a little outhouse. The line-cutters were waiting, then a small door opened and the flooding to get their passports.
We handed our e-visas and passports and the Tajik immigration guy closed the door. Maybe 10 minutes later, the door opened. I saw he had my passport and was rummaging through to find an empty space, all ignoring the page I had conveniently paper-clipped for him. Eventually, he gave in and he stamped me into Tajikistan.
We had read that we needed an immigration card in Tajikistan, but after taking to several guys we never got one. One Tajik officer who spoke good English said, “You don’t need. Trust me, I do this all the time.” He then gave us an eye wink. Hopefully, this won’t come back to haunt us.
About another 10 mins of weaving through trucks stuck at immigration, we got out of the military compound.
We were confronted by a few Tajik men wanting to take us anywhere. Since there was no one else but us to share a taxi, we got one guy to drive us 55km to Khujand for 120TJS ($14.34).
We got to watch some raunchy music videos thanks to the driver’s mini-TV while enjoying the mountainous scenery.
We arrived in Khujand a little before noon. Overall, what we thought would take the whole day really only took 3.5 hours and spent roughly $11.34 per person to do so.