Day 2 started out as a carbon copy of the first.
The Uzbek embassy was the next on the list. So again, after breakfast, it was another taxi ride with Shafiq to the embassy at 10am – the opening time for visa applications according to the embassy website.
This is where things began to differ. After arriving at 10:01am, the security guard ushered me in to the grounds of the embassy where I was invited to sit on a long bench beside a high wall in the garden. Shortly afterwards a small door opened behind a grate in a slot in the wall. The slot was no more than 400mm wide by 200mm high – just big enough to pass A4 documents through.
The face behind the grate was extremely friendly and asked the usual visa questions (do you have all the paperwork, why do you want to visit my country and, more importantly, do have US$105 cash). After these formalities, the friendly face behind the grate invited me to wait on the bench again. As the bench had an awning to provide some shade from the already searing sun I happily settled in to wait.
For how long, I had no idea.
To my utter amazement, it was only about 5-10min later that Mr. Friendly Face reappeared behind the grate and handed my passport back to me complete with Uzbek visa, shook my hand (with some difficulty throught the grate) welcomed me to his country and wished me well in my travels. At 10:20am I walked out of the embassy garden back to Shafiq who was waiting nearby and headed back to the NCG.
Incredibly, the whole process had taken less than 20min!
While today’s process lacked the elegance of yesterday’s audience in the formal reception room of the Kyrgyz embassy, the sheer efficiency of the slot in the wall more than compensated and left me somewhat stunned.
Two visas in two days. Could I get the hat-trick? Only tomorrow will tell.
Having found myself back at the NCG by 11am with the rest of the day free, I decided that the bike deserved some attention, in particular the dilemma of why the horn went MIA. After fashioning a crude circuit-tester from two bits of wire and a spare bulb, I determined that there was inded power getting to the horn. I then wired the horn directly to the battery to confirm that it was the horn itself that was dead. Yes, it was dead. All I had to do now was find a shop that sold a suitable 12v horn and “problem solvered”.
With the help of Karim and a local taxi, I went to the local SupercheapAuto shop and paid 1350 rupees for a replacement horn – a bit expensive I thought (about AUD$15) until I got back to the NCG and realised that the box actually contained a second horn under all the other packaging and paperwork. So now, if the new one expires from overwork like the old one did, I will have an immediate replacement.
While I was in a bike maintenance mood I checked (and topped up) the oil and generally ran my eye over the entire bike. Apart from starting to looked a bit weather-beaten (like its owner), the bike has performed flawlessly despite copping an awful flogging at low speeds in lower gears on the roads across India. It is a testament to the durability and strength of the design of the “old” BMW boxer engine before they went all black-box and high tech. And, of course, to Nev’s (Watson) mechanical skills before I left!