Friday, August 01, 2008

Uzbekistan: the last of the stans!

We flew Kyrgyz Airways which had two propellers and improvised reclining seats, but safely got us the 2 hour flight into Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. We heard that Americans should be extremely careful in Uzbekistan, so we did register with the embassy, but we had no problems.

A 4 hour layover in Tashkent

After figuring out where to leave our bags and how to get Uzbek money, we grabbed a cab and headed into the city for a few hours.
First stop: Khast Imon.

This is the most prominent Medressa is an Islamic seminary and school. The culture and history of Uzbekistan is extremly rich, unlike Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan which has many nomadic people. Here, culture was rooted and fostered for hundreds of years.

Eating a chicken sandwich at the chorzu bazaar.

A little side note on FOOD if you are curious:
This was our FAVORITE meal in all of Uzbekistan, and maybe all of the 'Stans! It was under a $1 at the market and absolutely delicious, and also not mystery meat. Overall, Uzbekistan had the best food of all 3 stans. Their national dish is plov (an oily rice pilaf mix). Jane and I got burned with some seriously bad plov in Bishkek, and were hesitant to try it here, but every place we went to, all the waiter would say is "Plov?"

The meat skewers were a good staple and something Jane and I learned to say (shashylyk). Thank goodness for the cucumbers, tomatoes and dill salads.

Overall, the food in the 'stans was not easy to digest; lots and lots of OIL! The ice cream was a rather disappointing. I tried very hard (and made Jane try with me). The best was a sunflower seed one. The one with the camel picture - not so much. Maybe if we could read the packages we would've done better. We ate at a lot of local restaurants and managed to get rice in oil, noodles in oil, potatoes, dumplings in oil, meat skewers, oil and oil. It was a bit difficult. The best meals were definitely at our home-stays.

We flew an hour local flight on Uzbekistan airway to Bukhara, a major (for this area) tourist destination. We were in a huge probably 1/8 full 2,4,2 seat plane. Weird. A bit shaky. As Jane said, "Well, I wouldn't give it a 10 on the safety scale." But again, we made it.

A cute minaret that we found weaving through the local neighborhood.

Our B&B. It is practically a museum.
The B&Bs drew us to this town, rather than the other famous one, Samaarkland. Ours was amazingly peaceful and such a treat to the end of our trip.

Camel-ing around town.
In the main square, around a water pond of course.

Some local crafts. There were a lot of ceramics.
Miri-abab Medressa, an Islamic school opened in the 16th century.
The sunsets here were amazing! A fellow traveler, Rodrigo, from Spain that we met at our B&B showed us this place, and a lovely roof-top restaurant.

Jane and me in front of the medressa before climbing its tower.

Though it took us a $200 visa to enter this country, and we were only here for 2 nights, it was well worth the trip.

Beautiful sunset behind the town from the tower.

A perfect end to our trip.
Our last night in Uzbekistan and Central Asia.

The 'stans were amazing. Jane appropriately nick-named it Absurdistan. It was everything we hoped for and more. I still can't believe that we planned to go there, went there, and just absolutely loved it! So many good adventures, wacky scenarios, crazy stories, and wonderful memories! It was well worth the difficulty and price of getting there with flights and visas. If there was only one leg of this entire summer that I could do, I think it would have to have been the 'stans with Jane!

1 comment:

Joy Hui Lin said...

yay! ang! i'm so delighted to finally get a peek at what your adventure through the stans was like!