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Uzbekistan - A Hidden Gem

sunny 20 °C

Our time in Uzbekistan has come to an end and looking back we have to be honest and say that after our twentieth madrassa; fifteenth minaret; tenth mosque; seventh mausoleum and fourth royal palace, all covered in blue tiles, we began to lose track. Most of the historic religious buildings are enormous and outwardly similar, but in Bukhara we visited this tiny one – the Chor Minor...

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Something that distinguished each of the historic buildings was the quantity and quality of carpets, cloth, clothing and trinkets on offer, (all handmade naturally). Another distinguishing feature was the Tourist Police offices. Uzbekistan is a very safe country that doesn't have any of the problems of some of its neighbours, but to reassure visitors the government has a specially trained force of multi-lingual officers whose job is to protect and assist tourists. There are offices conspicuously placed at the entrances to all the important sites but the one at this madrassa was just a bit too imposing...

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Travelling across the desert and through the countryside was fascinating. While the cities and city folk were all very modern we had occasional glimpses of the third world when we saw men riding donkeys and women tending the fields in the mountains....

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We never fully came to grips with the money in Uzbekistan. This is about $20....

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It is all well and good to know that 10,000 Uzbek som is roughly 1 euro or $1 U.S., but it's still a little disconcerting when you see prices for main courses as much as 25,000. ($2.50). On average we spent less than $10 a day each for food. Apart from the fact that the meals were heavy on meat, (although always accompanied by delicious salads), there was nothing particularly unusual on the menus. Plov is considered the national dish and is made from rice, carrots, apricots and meat, swimming in cottonseed oil. Plov is often made in large charcoal fired cauldrons outside restaurants...

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Cottonseed is the preferred oil for most cooking in Uzbekistan probably because they have a lot of it. It sells for about 10,000 som a litre, (Just $1), in the markets...

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Despite the fact that the Soviet system collapsed nearly 30 years ago there are still many reminders of that time. There are still bureaucratic requirements reminiscent of Russia. For instance: every hotel was required to give us a small form stating when we had stayed there and we were warned that we had too produce them on leaving the country, (though no one could explain what would happen if we didn't – maybe we would have to stay forever!). As in Russia: no one was in the least interested in the forms when we left Uzbekistan. Many Uzbeks still speak Russian as a first language and all manner of Russian artifacts could be bought in the markets. This shop, (in a mosque precinct of course), had tons of old Russian items for sale...

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So much of Uzbekistan has been rebuilt and refurbished that it is difficult to distinguish old from new, but the elaborately carved wooden doors are always fascinating. This one is old – we think!...

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But the White Palace of Amir Temur still stands in its original, but ruined, state after 600 years...

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Did we enjoy our time in Uzbekistan? We loved the gentle, welcoming people; loved the excellent hotels; loved the fabulous food at ridiculous prices; loved the incredible cleanliness; and we loved the amazing historical sights...we could go on and on. Suffice to say “we loved it all”. Now we are in Italy we can say, “Bravo Uzbekistan. Grazie molto.” (We'd love to say that in Uzbek but would have no idea where to start).

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Posted by Hawkson 00:17 Archived in Uzbekistan

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Comments

Thank you for sharing Uzbekistan with us. They appear to me to be self sufficient but that may be just my thinking.

by Janet

Don't lose those forms or you'll make some bored bureaucrat's day.

by R and B

Goodbye Uzbekistan, hello Italy. Maybe a few more veggies on the menus. Enjoyed the visit.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Wonderful pictures, wonderful stories! Thank you so much, I enjoy following you on your trips!

by Brenda Paddle

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