Muscat, Oman to Tashkent, Uzbekistan

by budgettravelnotes on May 23, 2010

We flew from Muscat, Oman to Dubai using the excellent flyDubai. I’ve never seen such an empty flight – there must have only been about 30 of us on it max and for some reason everyone else was sitting down the front with us on the very back row!  Although this was only a short haul flight of around 45 minutes flyDubai seem like a good outfit and fly to a whole host of places from Dubai, including Nepal, so definitely worth checking them out.

We had to connect between Terminal 2 and Terminal 1 of Dubai International airport.  FlyDubai ground staff offered us to transfer our luggage but we never asked what the fees were – I think it was our reluctance to hand over our luggage. We picked up our bags and took a taxi between the terminals.  We had only been let loose for ten minutes and we got ripped off already – the taxi attendant told us it would be $12 but when we confronted the taxi driver with this when he asked for $20 he said there was a misunderstanding, and of course the AED currency was the only one from the trip not in my mobile phone…so we paid a hefty bit over the odds for our 42.50AED taxi fare and ten minute ride.  I was surprised our Uzbekistan flight went from Terminal 1 : when I flew to Kabul, Afghanistan from Dubai a couple of years ago I reckoned Terminal 2 was where all the flights to “places that most people don’t want to go” departed from.

The check in for the Tashkent flight was hilarious.  If you’re used to Dubai you’ll know that there’s a pre check-in security scan.  There were loads of excess baggage and large boxes being put through the scanner.  One guy had a trolley load of Toyota spare parts including a bonnet.  At the check-in desk most of this excess appeared to be heading to Uzbekistan : loads of folk had excess baggage and there were 17 boxes counted in for one party.  For some reason they moved stuff from a box to a bag and it seemed someone was going to be making a killing from Nike flip flops.  The weirdest thing was that the airline was super strict about the baggage allowance and charging for every kilo over, so either there was damn good sale on, or there’s a wonderful premium to be made on branded flip flops in Uzbekistan.

The Uzbekistan Airways flight was equally funny in some ways.  A pretty bog standard flight and surprisingly with great food.  It must be cool to wear sunglasses a lot as well as a couple kept them on for most of the flight whilst getting pissed, although they were friendly and offered us some Haribo cola chews mid flight.

Radio control helicopters must also be the present of choice in Tashkent just now as we counted about 7 spouting out of the Duty Free bags.

We were getting met by a kind friend in Tashkent who’s a friend of my sister’s and had met me in Tallinn to give me some tips a few years ago.  We had originally said that we’d be easy to spot due to our large rucksacks and day sacks, but I texted him to say we’d be the only ones without Duty Free!

The immigration procedure in Tashkent airport wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.  Some reports will say that it’s a nightmare and I can imagine it could be if there are many flights arriving at the same time, but ours was a straightforward passport check, luggage collection and x-ray. You get handed two customs forms on the flight which you fill in saying what you’re taking in of value – e.g. cash, laptop, cameras etc.  I’d advise filling them out pretty accurately but not making it too complex so it doesn’t cause any problems when leaving.  We did hear a story about a consultant being paid in cash and having issues leaving with it on his exit from the country.  You’re meant to show you have less money leaving than when you came in.

You’ll be handed one of the customs forms back when you pass through the x-ray. Make sure you keep this until you leave the country, and ensure it’s stamped.

We left the airport and our friend negotiated with a car driver to get a lift to Gulnara Guesthouse by the Chorsu Bazaaar – one of the main backpacker type places to stay in Tashkent.  We paid 3000 Sum which is around $1.50 but it was negotiated in Russian so we had a bit of an advantage!

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