Cold, Cold Ground

Trip Start Jun 17, 2006
Trip End Aug 20, 2006

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Flag of Uzbekistan  ,
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Just last night we arrived in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from Tehran. The people in Iran were so friendly and hospitable which was in stark contrast to the reception we have received here. Once part of the old Soviet Union, Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991. However it still remains to be a very poor country. Case in point, when I arrived at their airport I met a older lady who asked me where I was from. I told her the United States and her eyes lit up. Then she asked me where I was staying, I told her I was staying at the Intercontinental Hotel, a five star hotel. Next thing you know she gives me her phone number and tells me I should meet her daughter Jasmine which I happily obliged to.......just kidding. Tashkent is a mixture of Russians, Koreans, Turks, and other Central Asian countries. The majority of the population is Muslim however very few women choose to where scarfs to cover their hair. If anything, the streets are filled with dress shirts and slacks for the men and provocatively tight outfits for the women. This is quite a contrast coming from Iran where all the women were covered in clothing head-to-toe. People watching here has been great however it was my experience as a pedestrian that was to be the most interesting. We spent our first day in the city center on Amir Temur Street, named after one of their most revered leaders. However, just walking down the city center was an interesting experience in itself. With very few tourists that visit Tashkent, we stuck out like a sore thumb and turned mores heads than a nice looking blonde at a Star Wars convention. As much as I was on the outside looking in everyone else was too. However the reception here has been luke warm if not cold. In Iran we were greeted with "hellos" and "welcomes" whereas in Tashkent we have been received with stares just as cold as a sub-zero Russian winter. The people here seem to be more suspicious than curious. I even tried to crack a smile from an old lady working at the metro. She responded with a stone cold look. Harsh I tell you. But maybe its just that we are in a big city. Tomorrow morning we head for Bukhara. A city rich in history, Bukhara was once a major stop along the Ancient Silk Road.
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