At least it was the first time when I shocked my mom saying where I was going to. Well not the last. Idea to go somewhere there came so unexpectedly that I packed my bag, hugged my cat and went to the east next day. The road one way took 3 (!) days by bus and train! Craziness? Maybe. But we saved a lot of money, avoiding expensive flight.
RouteThe Great Silk Road passed through the oldest cities, like Tashkent, Hiva, Buhara, Samarkand. Caravans pulled with the silk, jewelry and spice linked Eastern and Western civilization for many years and centuries. If you visit any of this cities, you'll touch the great east history. We chose Tashkent and Samarkand because of short stay there.
GuideBy the road from the train station to the hotel in Tashkent we talked with the taxi driver about places to see. He gave us advise about guide with own driver. Of course we agreed to, cause I hadn't prepared for this trip (the first and the last time I think). As I knew later individual excursions were wide spreaded practice in Uzbekistan because of the low price. Therefore we hired the guide in Samarkand too.
MoneyThe national currency of the Republic of Uzbekistan is named “sum” (UZS). Now exchange rate for 1 dollar is about 3000 UZS. Nonetheless the largest denomination is 1000 UZS. That's why if you go there, you'll feel like a millionaire.
TashkentIn Tashkent we booked I think the best hotel in the city named “Uzbekistan” just for 50 dollars per night. The building has 18 floors and looks like an open book. Also the hotel has a real good location near some places of interest, which we could see in the evening right after the arrival. I should note that I had a room at 16 floor. At first I was really glad, because I always like to have a morning view of the city when there is noone at the streets. But finally there was a real problem that I hadn't considered…
EarthquakeWe came back at the midnight from the walk and I just tried lie down to sleep, then I felt something wrong. As a person from seismically quiet zone I understood in a few moments that had started earthquake! That moment I got the reason why they teach children in the school what to do in extremal situations. After the waiting end of the earth tremors in the doorway I run like a redshank through the 16 floors by the stairs. I think I shouldn't tell you that I didn't want to sleep anymore. As a result idea to spend the night on the bench in the park hadn't seemed so crazy. As we knew later 6,5-7,0 magnitude earthquake strucked 235 kilometres outside Tashkent. In Tashkent was fixed measuring 5 on the Richter scale. It looked like very unusual welcome of the old city. By the way what we were heard from the guide in the morning: there was the severest earthquake in 1966, which completely destroyed Tashkent. After that they build houses considering this seismically active region. But even after these words we didn't risk to go down the subway.
City excursionTashkent really surprised me. I imagined it another way, or maybe didn't imagine at all. It was new and clean city after resurgence in 1966. In spite of all this recency, city still has an old town.
Charvak lake and Chimgan mountainsAfter city excursion we decided to see nature of this region. So we payed our driver about 30 dollars additionally and asked to show us something beautiful. Owing to the rivers Syrdarya and Amudarya Uzbekistan is so green and flowering as opposed to neighboring Kazahstan.
SamarkandWhile we get to Samarkand by train also were fixed some tremors. Luckily we didn't felt. Samarkand is an oldest city, contemporary of Rome. Exactly this city was chosen as a capital by Timur Amir. Exactly there is a place which every day choose many tourists to see historical objects and maybe unravel an ancient mystery of the east. Let me make you an edition about Timur Amir which I didn't know before. Everyone used to name him Tamerlan. But actually “Tamerlan” is mean nickname, that translated like “lame Timur”. Samarkand owns a lot of outstanding historical objects: Registan square, which has 3 medieval madrasas, a lot of mausoleums, Ulugbek observatory.
CuisineEveryone who likes Eastern cuisine will realise there's a paradise because of big portions and low prices. For 10 dollars you can feed all your friends in cafe for locals or have a big long dinner for two in the restaurant.
TaxiThe most crazy thing in Samarkand is taxi. Try to imagine usual car with a fixed price on the windshield (1000-2000 UZS – about 0.3-0.6 dollars). This car will take everyone, who wants to go somewhere, no matter where it is. In result it's 5 persons in a car. Closely, funny, sometimes must show the way.
East bazaarThe main thing you must be able at the bazaar is to chaffer. However if seller understands you're nonresident, he'll leave you without big discount. Anyway as I said before you won't go bust.
- Spice. I really should got more.
- Fruits. There are the tastiest melons and peaches I have ever tried.
- Samarkand bread. Women in Samarkand bake specific traditional bread.
- Scarves. I think it's the best souvenirs for women. My mom was so happy to had it.
- Bowls. Hand made picture on the bowl is unique like a snowflake.
- Slippers. Pointy shiny slippers blowed my mind, but were broken in one week.