Day 35 - Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Kublai Kooks - Mongol Rally 2017
Day 35 - August 19, 2017
Nukus, Uzbekistan to Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Countries: 25 KMs/Miles: 13445/7403
Breakdowns: 14 Time @ Borders: 44h 0m

With YACKS beginning to resemble a pieced together Humpty Dumpty, it was finally time for the Kooks to make their way across Uzbekistan towards the grandest and most daunting drives of the trip, The Pamir Highway. Before they could embark on this first 550km leg of the journey though, they would require a quick top-up of petrol. This seemingly easy task would prove tougher than hoped for in this part of the world as the Kooks would find out.

Uzbekistan, it seems, has a Benzine shortage although the same cannot be said for benzine stations so the Kooks frustratingly went from one ghost station to the next across the city until they stumbled upon a local who informed them he knew a ‘guy’ and could get them the coveted Benzine.

The Kooks were led down a few back alleys to his Benzine guy who disappeared behind a rundown building to fill up their Jerry Can. Knowing full well that this would be the dodgiest petrol known to man and potentially filled with dirt and tears of Ralliers past, they opted not to fill the cars on the spot and instead risk it through to Bukhara by only getting one Jerrycan as they still had some slightly less dodgey Turkmenistan petrol in another Jerrycan.

Back on the road, the Kooks were quite impressed with the road conditions and the meagre number of shallow potholes they were evading. This was most likely due to fact that the diabolical roads of Turkmenistan were still fresh on their minds though as the roads were certainly no treat.

Closing in on the halfway mark with Andy constantly calculating the remaining kilometres to remaining petrol, the Kooks would be forced to stop for lunch and assess how much petrol they would require to make it to Bukhara. The drive had been a barren flat desert covered with sporadic shrubs and little else for the past 3 hours so a good lunch spot seemed unlikely as the fuel light was screaming at YACKS to pull over. However, just before her last fumes had run out, they stumbled upon a somewhat oasis of a town and restaurant.

The language barrier was put up as always blocking the Kooks from their meal but through hand gestures and tummy rubs, a deal was struck and food would be served. Andy was nervous about his pestering seafood allergy so he attempted to confirm the dish that would be served by putting his fingers on his head like a bull and making ‘Mooo’ noises. The message got across. A delicious mutton soup was served and the Kooks ravished it.

After lunch, the petrol situation was assessed and a decision was made to fill up Yacks with the ‘good’ Turkmenistan petrol and split 10L of the dodgey stuff between the two cars. A lack of communication and some dubious filling saw Yacks wind up with more of the dodgey petrol than needed and Millie with barely enough petrol to make Bukhara. Ah well, this is all standard Kook procedure and the team carried on.

An hour down the road and YACKS began having apparent problems as had become all too familiar on this trip. Josh, the unluckiest driver of the lot, informed John that the car was really struggling in 5th gear and it was generally agreed that this was due to the rubbish fuel so they carried on. Another 30 minutes during an all-to-standard carriage-way changeover, Yacks died. She could not idle and came to a stop. Something was wrong. John, as always, was sent to assess the situation and made the call to drive her the rest of the way to Bukhara. His drive did not go far though as the Kooks suddenly pulled up on a coal train blocking the highway. It seems that the perfect location to fill a train with fuel is right across a major highway. Dumb. The crowds filled around the Kooks but this was not their highest moment so only Josh could be bothered entertaining the masses with our story while the others just waited for the delay and day to end. Eventually the train went on its merry way and Millie pushed Yacks through the traffic and across the track to get her jump started. Back on the road.
The cars were silent for the rest of the late-night journey as the roads turned to custard and YACKS’ ever-growing aches and pains were heavy on the Kooks’ minds.

Landing in Bukhara, the Kooks found a petrol station and to everyone’s surprise they had Benzine! The cars were quickly filled to the brim. Perhaps too quickly, as it seems nobody considered their money situation (including the supposed CFO) and they realized they could not afford what they filled. No black-market rate here so their dwindling USD collection was to be used at half the black-market rate. More money thrown to the wind by the Kooks.

Finally, the Kooks pulled into the hostel and as John assessed the damage and beer was dispersed to the team. Mikey and Geej then stumbled upon a nice surprise in the hostel, tourists, female tourists to be more specific. What a novelty to the lads as they had not really encountered any tourists and had very little time speaking to the fairer sex for the last week. Kathy and Mirjam had been traveling the silk road and spent the evening sharing laughs, drinks and attempting to educate the uncultured Kooks on the Silk Road that lay ahead and its historical importance. The Kooks revelled as they smashed some beers, talked to girls, played cards and forget about their car troubles.

One-by-one the Kooks started hitting the dusty trail with the last remaining soldiers staying up into the wee hours of the night drinking Vodka with Uzbekistan’s number one Borat impersonator. The morning would be filled with engine woes and heavy discussions of the path forward but that was tomorrow’s problem and the night was meant for laughs with Borat. End transmission.