Land of the Lepyoska, Madrassas and Cotton fields
Trip Start Feb 05, 2009
29Trip End Dec 16, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
By now 2 weeks in Uzbekistan…what a great country, offering the old Silk Road cities with their madrassas and other beautiful building and village life with street sellers, donkey and cart drivers and lots of people working the cotton fields as it is harvesting time! They love meat here, as it seems to be in every dish and the Lepyoshka (Uzbec bread) is sold on every street corner! The bread is made in special clay ovens, where they stick to the ceiling! It is delicious. We soak up daily life by relaxing in one of the many chaighanas (tea houses) and try all the local food like PLOV (a rice dish) or SOMCA (meat filled bread roll). After Bukhara and Samarqand we are now in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, where we have to arrange some visa. Also the place where we meet up with some people again!
Only been 2 weeks in Uzbekistan, but it simply embraces you
Entering the country through hundreds of kilometers of the vast steppe plains, when all of a sudden the stage changes décor and we find ourselves in a valley full of cotton fields, with numerous donkey and carts on the streets, colorfully dressed women selling fruit and men with wearing the traditional black & white hats! My favorite thing: The special tea drinking 'beds', which can be found at every Chaighana (teahouse) and in private backyards! You sit cross legged on this bed with a low table in the middle, drinking tea or eating one of the local dishes. For example: Plov (rice-meat dish) with lepyoshka (Uzbec bread). Something we have done regularly. The Lada is also well represented here!
The people are curious and eager to talk. The fact that I do not have a husband is replied with Pachimu? Why? Good question! ;-)
After Khiva (Xiba), we leave the first valley behind and with Stef Bos over the speakers we cross another 450km of desert to get to Bukhara: our next Silk Road city! This city has many madrassas, mosques and trading houses, all clustered in the center. Nowadays not as many as before, when the city was dominated by 200 madrassas and a mosque for every day of the year!
We spend our day time sightseeing Bukhara, soaking up Uzbec life at one of the Chaighanas (teahouses). A simple thing like getting more money turns out to be a challenge. No ATMs in the city, so VISA card. It takes me an hour to find the NBU bank and when waiting in line at cabinet nr.11 on the first floor, the woman tells me the machine as been put at a big hotel in the center
After a second night at their home, sharing tea, homemade wine and good company it is time to say goodbye. They have to go to work and we want to visit some more sites and have to hit the road again…Ochin Spasiba for everything!
Following the old Silk Road and now tourist trail our next destination is Samarqand, a city full of culture and history, as well as many fountains, green parks and space. It feels completely different walking around here. We have seen many Madrassas until now, but the Registan Emsemble is the most beautiful of all! The tile work is amazingly detailed. Ironically all this work is not that old: Many of the restoration have been done in 1994, so only 15 years ago! I included one photo showing the before and after effect, big difference!
In between the cities we stop at small villages. It is nice to get a view and feel of both city and village life! At one village we realize we have a flat tire. No problem, within minutes some guys come and help out, changing the tire and receiving more melons and some fresh made bread. Sharing and caring is very much part of the culture. Feel we, in western society, are too much focused on ourselves, less and less caring for our neighbor, let alone strangers
A few days ago we made it to Tashkent: the 4th largest city of Central Asia and capital of Uzbekistan with over 3 million citizens, although it does not feel like a busy place at all. The center is widespread with lots of green, huge buildings and large streets. For us mostly a functional stopover as we have to arrange at least 2, but preferably 3 visa: Kyrgyzstan, China and India. If we can arrange the last one here also, it means it is not a must to Bishkek (capital of Kyrgyzstan), leaving us the option to travel the smaller village roads instead. Also a place of reunion, as we meet up with Anvar again, one of the truck drivers whom we met on our first day in Uzbekistan! We are invited to his home and meet his lovely wife Tamara and sharing a lovely lunch. And we see Rustam for a drink, one of the guys from Khiva. By the end of the week, Marat should be in town as well! Great to meet up again! By change we have found the perfect free-city-camp-spot: next to a big hotel in the middle of the center, nearby the bazaar, a supermarket and internet café and walking distance from the embassies. Mira met 2 sisters in a park when sightseeing and they happen to live in the flat next to us, so we are temporary neighbors now. In between embassy visits our days are filled with souvenir shopping at the Chorsu bazaar, being on the phone with Holland, doing internet sessions, some sightseeing and socializing with people we meet here. On Thursday we were invited for Tamara’s birthday, which we shared with friends and family. Enjoying a great meal with VODKA, karaoke and dancing. Everyone, including us, had to give a little speech, with of course a vodka toast! It was a great night, meeting lovely people, who want us to stay in Tashkent, Why go to India?! Anvar is great, checking up on us every day, helping out wherever he can. Feels like my second dad
Some of you are wondering how I am doing whilst doing all the sightseeing and meeting these great people. Well, I’m fine really. Mira and I are like a married travel couple, dealing with some communication problems at the moment. In some ways we are opposites and that makes it difficult sometimes. But I have a feeling we can overcome this. The deadline traveling still puts some pressure on the trip, but I have come to terms with the fact that we cannot stop at place for a long time and have to travel by schedule. The days are flying by and yet not. Have not found the time or energy to play the djembe much, do yoga or creative things. This will have to wait till India I think. The days are filled with sightseeing, driving, doing daily chores and socializing…not that I am complaining, feel very happy that I do not have to work like most of you ;-))
Typing this last bit of the story, I am now also the proud owner of a one year multiple enty visa for India! Chinese visa will have to wait till Kirgizstan as due to bank holidays we are not the only ones waiting at the gate: 5 days waiting again....impossible if we wanna make it in time to the Pakistan border and see a bit of Kirgizstan as well. Tomorrow we have a mechanic helping out with checking the van, brakes oke? New radio installed, Fluids oke? etc. And another reunion as we meet up with Marat again, the guy we met at Khiva!! All in all Tashkent has proven to be a nice stopover! But enough cities for now, time to head for the mountains and yurts!
Next time I can tell and show you if we found any!