I traveled from Dushanbe to Samarkand on October 6th. In the morning I had to pick up my Turkmenistan visa, which took a long time (of course, nothing is ever easy at that dretched embassy), so it was already around 1 PM when I left the hostel, I half expected not to make it the entire way to Samarkand, but I just went for it.
- First, took one of those shared taxis with a fixed route opposite the Sheraton hotel, I think it was number 8 that goes to Zarnisar bazaar. 3 TJS
- Negotiated for a seat in a taxi to the border, I was told at the hostel 10 TJS is a normal price. The first guy asked 100 TJS and I just ignored him and walked on, then a few guys who insisted that 30 was a very good price, and after about 5 minutes a guy showed up who was fine with 10. I ended up with 3 local people that went to Tursunzade and after that he brought me to the border. No worries at all, but he did have some 'friend' there who wanted to exchange money with me, dollars for Uzbek som at the bank rate of course... So 'no thank you' and I just walked up to the border.
- I did not have an "Immigration card" or whatever the scam is the Tajik border guards are doing now, I forgot to ask for one when I entered the country and I was a bit worried I would get hassled for money or something now. But apparently the guard I got was an honest one, or I was just lucky, because he didn't even ask for it. So no problems at all leaving the country.
- Entering Uzbekistan, also a friendly guy. He did check my phone thoroughly, and all the pictures that had a woman on it he enlarged (even the ones with like a big winter coat on). He asked me if it was porn, or if I have had sex with them, or something, I didn't really understand what he meant but it didn't matter, I just smiled politely everytime and told him 'no' and then it was okay. But that was mostly it, he checked my bag and medication but halfheartedly, he REALLY liked my Dostoyevski book and also suddenly complimented me about my blonde hair. All in all not much trouble at all, it all did take a while though.
- At the Uzbek side of the border, it was already starting to get a bit late, 4:30 PM I think, not many people there. Had to pay for the whole car for some guy to take me to Denau, I can't remember what I payed for that but it wasn't that much, it's not that far anyway. He dropped me off at the bus station though, which apparently was not the right place for shared taxis to Samarkand. So I just walked around a bit, some bored people were bothering me and wanted me to get in a bus they claimed was going to Samarkand, even though there are no buses going there at all... They were just messing with me I think, but then suddenly this older Uzbek guy came up to me, we talked a bit and then he started calling some people, he took me with him in a taxi to the right place for a ride to Samarkand (only a few minutes), and when we got there I realized he had arranged a seat for me in a car to Samarkand for only 60,000 som! I was expecting to pay a lot more, especially because it was so late already. Really nice guy, he didn't want anything for his help, I just shook his hand and he left. Then I had to wait for one more person to fill up the car and around 7 PM we finally left Denau. In the meantime I had also exchanged some dollars for som, I think I got 6400 IIRC.
- Some roadblocks and passport checks on the way, but nothing disturbing. We had dinner somewhere for 10,000 som, it wasn't that great but I was hungry so it was fine. Before we were in Samarkand, one of the passengers wanted the driver to drop him off in a village, which meant a bit of a detour of about 10 km, the driver didn't really like it but he brought him there anyway. Then, finally back on the main road, a few kilometers further on one of the other passengers had the same request for another village. This REALLY pissed the driver off now, he stopped and wanted to throw the guy's luggage out of the car and it nearly erupted in a fist fight. After about 10 minutes he decided it wasn't worth the trouble and we went off the road again, I think he brought him halfway or something, then teamed up with the other remaining passenger to throw the guy and his stuff out, and we raced back towards the main road. I just decided to not get involved, neither of them spoke English anyway and my Russian is terrible. And I just wanted to get to Samarkand. That last passenger also needed to get to the city center, and when we were near the Registan I asked the driver to stop, payed him the 60,000 and everything was fine. It was 1 AM now, but I made it!
All in all, everything went better than expected. In total it cost me about 10 euro I think? And no bribes along the way.