Apparently, a video of Traveltomtom traveling by train in Uzbekistan caused a lot of havoc and sadly it led to a train manager getting fired after letting me upgrade to VIP class.
First of all I feel very sorry for that staff member that actually helped me and that the Afrosiyob train company came to this conclusion after a 45 seconds video that I posted on social media.
Through this blog I want give my official reaction on a trending topic that is going on about me in Uzbekistan, especially after I got uncountable unpleasant messages in my Instagram inbox.
There are a lot of viral posts about the Dutch blogger who is responsible for Uzbekistan train staff to lose their jobs. Unfortunately I can barely read any of them, since translation from Uzbek language hardly works. So to clarify things from my side, here is my story.
Let me also state that no one from the Afrosiyob train company in Uzbekistan nor from anyone from the media has ever officially reached out to me about what happened or asked for a reaction from my side. But I am sure this story will reach them so they hear my side of the story. Here is the video what caused the trouble.
Let me begin with the fact that I loved traveling in Uzbekistan and I had a really great time and will definitely come back again. I have spread the story of all the amazing places to visit in Uzbekistan though all my Instagram posts and TikTok videos to millions of people around the world.
Afrosiyob disappointing costumer service
We booked our train travel in Uzbekistan through a travel agency, who turned out to be very disappointing. We explicitly asked for the best train tickets available. But every train we boarded we found out that there were higher class tickets available and there were free seats as well. Our travel agency was a very frustrating factor on our trip to Uzbekistan and I wish we would have never used them.
Apart from that, this is a great opportunity to speak for many foreign travelers that we met and were clearly disappointed by the Uzbekistan train company Afrosiyob. Not because of their trains and comfortable rides, but because of the complexity of booking train tickets, language barriers and very disappointing costumer service.
If only Afrosiyob had someone on the ground or in their costumer service team that could help non-russian speaking tourists the caused situation would have never happened.
Fact is that I walked around the train station in Samarkand for more than 15 minutes trying to find someone that could help me out with my train ticket. I was willing to pay money to an official ticket office or employee who woukld be able to change my ticket to VIP class.
With Google Translate and money in my hand I searched for the right person, but no luck. Not even close. No one was available to help me. In fact the people that at least tried to communicate with me through Google Translate literally adviced me to go to the conductor in the train and ask for an upgrade to VIP class.
This makes it even more sad to me that now a member of the staff of Uzbekistan train company Afrosiyob has been fired because of a lack of communication and costumer service of its own ex-employer.
Firing this employee and then state that you are proud to be fighting corruption is something Afrosiyob is apparently proud of but it this Uzbekistan train company should also look in the mirror
Days before our train from Samarkand to Tashkent we tried to contact costumer service to upgrade our ticket through the phone, but no one was able to help us.
Here is a little introduction to the root cause of the situation, because we did not book our Uzbekistan train tickets ourselves, but everything was arranged through a travel agency.
Disappointing travel agency for Uzbekistan
As you guys know I never really travel with a travel agency. With all due respect but after being full time on the road for more than 10 years I don’t really need any help planning my trips anymore. Moreover, I like to be flexible when I travel, I don’t want to be attached to a fixed plan. Especially in a country like Uzbekistan where it is cheap to travel for Western tourists.
However, this exceptional time we ended up traveling in Uzbekistan with a travel agency. Our initial plan was to travel to Turkmenistan first and then continue into Uzbekistan and travel onwards to Tajikistan.
As you may know you can only visit Turkmenistan with a travel agency, so when this same travel agency offered to also plan our trip onwards in Uzbekistan we decided to go ahead as none of my travel friends and I had time to actually do some research for our trip to Uzbekistan.
Now looking back, it was a dumb decision and travelers do NOT need to travel to Uzbekistan with a travel agency, especially not seasoned travelers like me and my friends. Everything can be arranged on the spot and it is a very easy to travel and Uzbekistan is a very safe country to visit.
Anyway, we informed our travel agency about our budget and told them we are not the budget traveler, so please provide us with upscale hotels, comfortable and spacious cars because we have big suitcases and of course with the best available long distance train tickets.
A lot of what we asked for did NOT go according to plan. We found out pretty fast that our travel agency did everything they could to save a couple dollar here and there and provided us with some random hotels.
Our first nights in Tashkent were not really comfortable in the smallest room imaginable without AC, but we took it for granted. But when we arrived in Khiva and we wanted to check in around 10.00 am at our hotel, we were charged an extra 50% of the room rate because we were too early.
At that moment we started communicating with our travel agent that so far we were really disappointed, especially since we paid a lot of money for him to arrange our trip in Uzbekistan.
As you can understand that when we found out we were not booked in the highest available train class we were really fed up with our travel agency.
I sincerely regret the caused situation for the train employee who ended up getting fired but I also hope the Uzbekistan train company Afrosiyob is drawing their conclusions, because their costumer service for foreigners and non-russian speaking tourists is awful!
If only they had someone at the train station that would be able to speak a couple words English to help me upgrade my ticket the official way, this whole situation could have been avoided. I walked around the train station with Google Translate and money in my hand ready to upgrade a ticket for more than 15 minutes, but no one was able to help me.
If anyone reading would get turned off about traveling in Uzbekistan then please read again. Traveling in Uzbekistan is amazing and the country is architecture wise probably one of the most interesting countries in the world to visit.
A small incident like this should not influence your Uzbekistan travel plans, because everyone I know loved traveling in Uzbekistan.
Curious what the life of a full time nomadic traveler looks like? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along with daily updates from around the world about the good, the bad and the ugly about traveling.
Traveltomtom is on the road to 197, meaning I would like to travel to every country in the world. As of October 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries, still about 40 to go, but no rush.
Enjoy your trip to Uzbekistan!