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Thoroughly Modern Tashkent

sunny 20 °C

It is such a surprise to be here in the very heart of Asia and find an extremely clean, modern, city with wide tree-lined streets, the latest cars, (nearly all white to reflect the scorching summer sun), a small but efficient metro system and an army of friendly locals who all want to practice their English or to take their photos with us on their cellphones. Here are Sheila and Christine with a smiling family in Independence Square...

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They are smiling because minutes earlier the young differently-abled girl and her wheelchair had crashed down the Metro's escalator just in front of us. The attendant slammed on the brakes and fortunately the girl was uninjured, but as we got outside the family wanted a photo as a reminder. The Metro trains may be a little antiquated but the Soviet styled stations are magnificent ...

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Also magnificent is the central market...

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It is a vast domed building simply bursting with local produce...

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Uzbek meals are generally built around meat, either lamb, beef or chicken, and vegetarians might get funny looks here, but there is something for (almost) anyone. Dairy products, pickles and hand cut pastas are very popular and an entire upper floor of the market is given over to stalls selling stacks of dried fruits and nuts at ridiculously low prices...

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All manner of fresh fruits and vegetables can be bought in the surrounding market halls and these radishes looked particularly inviting...

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As did the displays of local fruits...

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Uzbekistan has a perfect climate for temperate fruits and vegetables with more than 200 days of sunshine a year and abundance of groundwater. However, under Soviet rule from the early 1920s to 1991 Uzbekistan became one of the world's leading producers of cotton and it is symbolised in many forms on buildings and murals - this one is on the Metro...

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Vast irrigation schemes were put into effect to grow this thirsty crop and the Aral Sea, in the northwest of Uzbekistan, which was at one time the fourth largest inland sea in the world, is now a shadow of its former self thanks to the many years when its rivers were diverted for cotton production. Fleets of stranded ships now rust in harbours more than 50 miles from the nearest water and the demise of the Aral is recognised as one of the world's worst human caused environmental disasters – take note cotton lovers! ..

Now what about the history of Uzbekistan? This country is bang in the middle of Asia and has been fought over for millennia. The Silk Road from China to Europe made this part of the world very rich in the 7th century and everyone wanted a piece – the Iranians, Arabs, Turks, Mongols et al invaded at times and in the 14th century  Timūr Gurkānī, known as Tamerlane finally got the place under control. He is seen as an Uzbek hero and he proudly sits on his horse outside the Hotel Uzbekistan....

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But this country is awash in historical sights and we are now in one of the greatest cities of the Silk Road – Khiva. How about this for an entrance to our Khiva hotel!...

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Posted by Hawkson 09:37 Archived in Uzbekistan

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Comments

It looks so clean and organized. Love the market and those who set up the produce in such an artistic way.

by janet

Wow, this is some entrance! All it needs is a moat, a drawbridge and you could be entering some ancient castle.

by R and B

Gorgeous produce and fabulous soviet styled train station. You two know how to live it up. What a fancy looking hotel from the outside..

by Sue Fitzwilson

Your pictorial records have confirmed my lifelong desire to visit Tashkent.
Time to savour your insights.

by kenhuocj

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