“Before you take my heart; reconsider.” – Texas.
On route to Afghanistan from Uzbekistan, I had a night and half day to “kill” in the city of Termiz. Billed as a backpacker’s classic, this joint arguably looks out of place in Uzbekistan. I could easily have jigsaw puzzled this place into El Salvador, Honduras or Ukraine and it would have done OK. But, geographically, scattered Termiz is in Uzbekistan.
Getting here was ridiculous. And I mean completely ridiculous. You need a hell of a lot of patience and stamina to backpack your way to Termiz. This is no pleasure cruise and not a day out for a spring chicken or a travelling simpleton. At the best of times, I pulled my own beard hair out. At the worst of times, I lay on the floor praying for the next flight or marshrutka back to mighty Bishkek.
After I survived twenty thousand gold teethed taxi drivers (think Jaws from James Bond), winding roads the Beatles wouldn’t even write about and the most stringent police and army checks of all time on the Karshi to Termiz route, I was finally breathing freedom on my pumped up border crossing into Afghanistan. But I needed somewhere to stay for the night, and I didn’t book up in advance, at any rate a Doogle search for hostels in Termiz replied with a “laptop says no”. I gathered there would not be many backpackers in sight. I guessed right. I was all alone here. It was me, myself and I. Backpacking in Termiz. The travelling Northern Irishman.
After arriving on a shared taxi – bumpy, dirty, lacking common sense and making more stops than a shit formula one driver, it was time to backpack the streets in search of a Termostel (Termiz-Hostel) to sleep in.
I found the Sorxan Atlantic Hotel (also called Surhan Atlantic or Sorhan Atlantic) on the main street in the city centre and I couldn’t be bothered going anywhere else. So – $10 US a night for a single room, that will do me. No Wi-Fi but hot water, a great view and the chance of a strifetime to sleep in a bedroom whose window view includes glimpses of Afghanistan. The hotel was clean, safe and tidy. A Godsend in these parts.
It’s an old Soviet Style Hotel. It reminded me of being back whacking in Belarus or the time I toured the Hotel Viru in Tallinn in Estonia. It even bizarrely shot me back to Pyongyang and my vivacious stay on a high floor at the swanky 5 star Yanggakdo Hotel.
Here are a few photos from my room and the hotel. You can hopefully feel the extreme pleasure within from my stay here. It felt so surreal, going to sleep in this ex-Soviet style concrete hotel block, knowing I’d be up at the crack of dawn to backpack it alone across the border into Hayratan, Afghanistan. This is textbook extreme rock’n’roll whackpacking at its finest.
It was quirky as hell and I loved my night here, in fact Termiz was rather charming, despite the ridiculous checks of bags and passports on route.
In terms of sightseeing, I spent about 4-5 hours exploring the city and I ended up back here again after my time in Afghanistan. There were some good bars, a nice restaurant, a cool church (which looked a tad out of place) and a lively bazaar. In fact, it was in this bazaar that I almost made the biggest mistake on my travel journey so far.
I had a great time in Termiz and I really should write more about this kind of carnage. Literally everyday in my lifestyle in the last 13 years is worthy of 4-5 separate stories. None of us will ever have time to read, remember or write about this.