Back on the Road after Covid (Where are We – Uzbekistan 3)


After more than a year in the Netherlands due to covid, we are back on the road. Here’s a short update on what we’ve been doing and what we are going to do.

How did we get back on the road?

A lot of overlanders have been having headaches from bureaucratic rigmaroles. Many left for their homecountry when covid spread across the world, leaving the vehicle behind. But the stay of a temporarily imported vehicle is always limited.

For us this was no different. Our Land Cruiser stood in Kazachstan. Fortunately the country is part of a bigger customs union with Russian and Kyrgyzstan (among others), which allows the vehicle to stay a full year. That’s quite a luxury in Temporary Import Document bureaucracies.

Due to covid, this customs union extended the expire date several times throughout 2020. This meant no worries until March 21 , 2021.

Meanwhile we wrote our first book, in Dutch – Van het pad af. Find it here. Working on the English version as we speak.

As the date drew closer, we hoped there would be another extension. April is a tad early to travel (cold, late winter season), Kazachstan required a visa until May 1, and my (Karin-Marijke’s) dearest aunt was in the last phase of her life and so I wasn’t going anywhere but, with my family, took care of her full time until she passed away.

Coen contacted embassies, travel agencies, visa offices, including in Kazachstan but to no avail. No extension had been granted and we didn’t want to risk it. Overstaying can cost you a fine but also the confiscation of the vehicle. We take our risks during our travel but this is never one of them. Our Land Cruiser has never overstayed during our 18 years on the road.

It was a bit of stress. When Coen applied for his visa, we learned there were public holidays and four days of closure of all public services. Then there was the mandatory pcr test – a 150 whooping euros for a commercial enterprise for doing something our government does too (for free) but without supplying the ‘certificate’, a simple print out.
Covid is ruining lives; it’s also making a number of people very, very rich.

Anyway, that’s the madness of the world we live in today.

Coen flew out in time and recovered the Land Cruiser. A separate blog post or article will follow on how he found the car after a year in an open-air parking lot in Almaty (our followers on Facebook and Instagram saw his postings on this already) and tried to start it after it has been sitting idle for 15 months with the batteries left to fend for themselves during two harsh winters.

Then there was the long awaited appointment at the ARB office in Almaty. Coen had to time everything to the minute between the four-day national holiday, the weekend, the upcoming expiration of the car papers and the drive to the border to squeeze in a critical Old Man Emu suspension installment. Courtesy of ARB Europe, who have been so generous to sponsor the complete setup for our Land Cruiser.

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Coen crossed into Uzbekistan and worked on the Land Cruiser for five weeks before I followed him. His list of never ending small chores included a broken hinge of the front windshield, a crushed body support and various other works.

This meant he was going to see his friend Deniz and colleagues at Asia Auto Centre again. He also installed the aviation sun visors sent to us by Rosen Sunvisor Systems and the Universal Joints sent to us by Euro4x4Parts.

We Time

More than a year full-time in the company of others and subsequently six weeks apart – we were ready for some ‘we’ time! Where to do this better than in the mountains, far away from busy city life in Tashkent…

Brilliant as we are in our planning, we left at the start of a four-day public holiday (end of Ramadan) and thus Tashkent left the hot city and headed for the mountains! 🙂

Bradt Travel Guides for Central-Asia

(click on the images to look inside)

Bradt Travel Guides – Kazakhstan

Bradt Travel Guides – Uzbekistan

Bradt Travel Guides – Kyrgyzstan

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It did lead to some great meetings with wonderful people so no complaints. The Uzbek people are the kindest and politest (all ask permission to take a photo from our Land Cruiser).

And we had time for a lot of good reading about adventurous spirits – Miriam Lancewood, Alice Morrison and thanks to a great article on Expedition Portal (thanks, Ashley Giordano for the tip) I found the book A Cruel Way to Afghanistan by two courageous women.

Recommended Books on Overlanding

(click on the images to look inside)

Going Home to Africa – Dot Bekker

The Cruel Way, Switzerland to Afghanistan – Ella Maillart

927 Days of Summer – Brad & Sheena van Orden

Products from Amazon

What’s Next?

To be honest, we really don’t know. Coen can renew his Uzbek visa one more time as far as we know and after three months the Land Cruiser has to leave the country. However:

  • Kazachstan now has extended his mandatory visa procedure until the end of the year. We can’t apply for it here in Tashkent.
  • Tajikistan – Uzbek land borders are closed.
  • Kyrgyzstan – Uzbek land borders are closed except for some 30+ nationalities, unfortunately Dutch can’t cross.

Meanwhile temperatures are rising here. Still very doable but we don’t want to be hanging around in Uzbekistan during summer with temps going up to the 40s-50s (celsius).

So a couple of options:

  • Find a solution for the car papers and fly out to do some hiking?
  • Find a solution in the bureaucratic system so we will be able to cross into Kyrgyzstan with our vehicle (our #1 choice)?

And a note from Coen about the gearbox:

And then there is the failing gearbox issue that needs to be addressed. The lever gets stuck in third gear. It seems the synchronizer ring is worn. Not quite sure how to tackle that one. As we are sure that parts are non-existing in this part of the world, and in order to asses which specific parts we need, we do need to immobilize the Land Cruiser for the duration of the work and the parts getting to us. Any hints and tips are welcome.

For now we’re enjoying Tashkent. Good pilav (‘plov’) and Korean and Turkish food, nice place to stay at the Art Hostel, and meeting great people – locals and foreigners alike.

Stay tuned and do let us know how you are faring these days… The comment section is right below. 🙂


Karin-Marijke & Coen

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12 thoughts on “Back on the Road after Covid (Where are We – Uzbekistan 3)”

  1. Travel, unforgettable adventures, discoveries and self-knowledge. Minibus rental is a favorite of nature travelers. This is a great opportunity to take a break from the usual competition for a higher ranking. With the collapse of normal life, humanity is experiencing a new encounter after a long break in COVID-19. First trips to local areas, nature entertainment and inspiration for fresh air. Memories of previous adventures and sharing experiences, travel moments. All you need is a warm place, a real atmosphere and hot chocolate.

    • Soms wel, soms niet. Er is geen pijl op te trekken. De grote boosdoener is de derde versnelling. Om daar op snelheid uit te schakelen naar zijn vier, is geen probleem, maar om van zijn drie naar de twee te komen zijn de toeren vaak te laag, en zit vaak de schakelpook helemaal vast.

      • Coen , kun je terug schakelen van 3 naar 2 op het maximale toerental dat de auto in de 2e versnelling kan rijden? Je kunt dan eigenlijk bijna vol gas geven en dan terug schakelen. Ben even weg geweest dus vandaar dat er tijd overheen is gegaan.

        • Heya jullie, het probleem ligt hem erin dat ik hem op sommige momenten niet uit zijn 3 krijg, vooral in stadsverkeer met te lage toeren als ik plotseling terug moet naar zijn 2. Opschakelen uit de 3 naar 4 gaat makkelijker inderdaad vanwege de hogere toeren. Maar bij allebei geld als ik de pook te snel vastpak nadat ik de koppeling ingetrapt heb, dan zit hij muurvast. Dan moet ik spelen met de koppeling en/of heel voorzichtig een aantal kleine rukjes geven aan de versnellingspook.

          • Als je de bak niet kunt / wilt demonteren ( bv omdat onderdelen niet beschikbaar zijn ) zou het dan zin hebben om met hoge druk spuit en b.v. diesel de bak uit te spuiten en zo te reinigen. Heb met de Harley met achteruit versnelling een keer gehad dat er een flintertje ijzer ( afgebroken deeltje ) tussen een tandwieltjes van de schakelwals zat.

          • Dank voor het idee… Vooralsnog kunnen we ons redden met het “eerst nadenken” voordat er uit de 3 wordt geschakeld.

      • Kun je eventueel bekijken of de veren in de koppelingsplaat zelf er nog in zitten. Daarmee bedoel ik de veren ( vaak vier of vijf ) die in de plaat de draaiende krachten opvangen.

        • Wat jij hier beschrijft, hebben we 4 jaar geleden gehad en we hebben toen een gebruikte “heavy duty” koppeling van een Dyna erin gezet. Toen was het geval dat geen enkele versnelling werkte. Nu bij ons is het enkel de 3 die problemen geeft. Ik verdenk een synchro ring.

  2. I find your articles inspiring. Mechanical failure is the thought lurking at the back of my mind as we switch from sailing to driving in our old age. Reading about your persistence with such a particular vehicle is helpful. I look forward to the book in English which, if your blog is any indicator, should be easy to read and interesting.
    (PS my plan for taking an American model far abroad is to put some spares in a storage locker before we leave and if all else fails going home to get them. Which sounds as daft as the whole idea of driving a long way from home in the first place).

  3. I am so glad you enjoyed The Cruel Way! I can’t wait to read more of Ella Maillart’s books. Safe travels and best wishes to you both.


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