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Jrv2damac
Kansas Fan
Member since Mar 2004
29697 posts

Uzbekistan
I searched the country name (as well as Central Asia) and didn't find anything

From June to August of last year, I took a trip with various stops with the first stop being in Korea, SE Asia, China, and eventually all the way to Iceland. Smack in the middle of this trip though was a 9 day stop in Uzbekistan in July.

Uzbekistan is the strangest place I've ever been to. From the police presence, the way currency works, to various other strange bureaucracies (visa was obviously required). Some of the cities I stayed in were completely devoid of ATMs. It's an Islamic country, but only to a cultural extent. Nothing pertaining to the religion is enforced, and everyone seemed mostly secular.

The official rate was $1 for about 32000 Uzbek Som, and the black market rate was $1 for about 64000 som (you really don't know what rate you will be charged, but mostly black market rates). The banknotes only came in 1000 and 5000...counting them was a pain in the ass.


I flew in from Beiling to Tashkent (the capital). I was one of about 4 white people on the flight, the other 3 were ethnic Russian women but were born and raised in Uzbekistan. The flight consisted of mostly people stocking up on random goods bought in China for resale in Uzbekistan..people literally had dollies, boxes, and crates of random shite.

Image: https://s30.postimg.org/y5cpc4wb5/16295699_10209745077516196_146207225_n.jpg


When I landed and cleared customs, I was immediately stunned and the tone for this country from a police/government standpoint was set. When I got to the arrival area, it was totally deserted. I looked out toward the parking lot and that's where all the people were waiting to pick up folks. It turned out there are THREE security checkpoints (one in the parking lot where non-passengers can't go beyond, one at the front door of the airport, and then the usual one before your gate).

My initial currency exchange was with a taxi driver (literally everyone knows of a random somebody who can exchange money with you). I gave him $200 to exchange, and he opened up his glove compartment and gave me a brick of money that I had to carry in a black plastic bag because it wouldn't fit in my wallet.


Image: https://s29.postimg.org/itl5sctif/16244067_10209744548742977_368943856_n.jpgj/



July 13th- My first day after arrival I flew from Tashkent to Nukus, which is best known for being the nearest city of any size that was a good jumping off point for off roading trips to the receding Aral Sea, which I signed up for the next day. When I got to where I was staying in Nukus (the only place to stay in the city I could find online beforehand), I was informed there was a scheduled power cut to the city until 6 PM or something. Not a good time of year for such things.

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/97rlc22cn/16244494_10209744549342992_177063265_n.jpg


July 14th, I woke up and departed with my group at about 8 AM. I joined 3 Polish travellers and the driver (no English, but the Polish folks knew Russian and English so they translated to me when needed). We left Nukus, and stocked up on snacks and some beer (interesting fact, Uzbekistan has NO alcohol licensure requirements to sell; you can buy it quite literally anywhere). After that, we drove for 8 hours until we arrived at the current shoreline of the Aral Sea as it continues to recede. Most of the trip was on former seafloor, and this is what almost all of it looked like the whole way:

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/lvby2b6nb/16343653_10209744549142987_1982909478_n.jpg


We finally made it to the shoreline, and walked right up to the water (everyone jumped in to swim except me). It was like standing in wet play-doh. After that, tents were set up and the drivers cooked Plov (pretty much a stirfry of lamb, rice, and vegetables; the national dish of the country)

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/53vogocpz/16295338_10209744671106036_661670087_n.jpg

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/uevc02ezr/16295661_10209744549222989_1551539239_n.jpg

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/dojyaqgkn/16295981_10209744549022984_722937994_n.jpg


June 15th, we woke up, tore down camp, and got back in the jeep and pressed on over even more former seafloor until we reached the town of Moynaq. This place has brunted the most consequences of the disaster economically. We stopped at the monument depicting how badly the sea has been depleted, as well as walked down to where old rusted ships are simply sitting where they used to float. After this, we drove back to Nukus.

Image: https://s24.postimg.org/xjlm0ugsl/16244153_10209744781708801_1110633769_n_1.jpg

Image: https://s24.postimg.org/n6zbern9h/16358615_10209744781468795_792205732_n.jpg

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/mv28y0lt3/16296001_10209744548902981_1144332442_n.jpg


July 15th- Slept most of the morning and didn't do much except take in very limited sites of Nukus. Went to a museum where pictures were strictly prohibited.

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/z3gdsdahz/16244418_10209744549462995_1370742962_n.jpg

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/5zn3z0g2v/16344393_10209744549302991_241019428_n.jpg


July 16th- Flew back to Tashkent from Nukus. I didn't do anything in Tashkent, just holed up again, and bought a first class train ticket to Samarkand for the next day (not even $10).

July 17th- Took the train to Samarkand. A two hour ride in first class--the railroad system was very good and comfortable. Train station had similar security to the airport, so no fricking around there. Samarkand is a famous old Silk Road trading post. The most notable place there is the Registan. Pretty cool architecture inside and out; there's similar structures spread throughout that part of town.

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/6is78a7hj/16343579_10209744548862980_683038953_n.jpg

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/yhrew9ffr/16344474_10209744671226039_336405206_n.jpg

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/vmebpebfr/16244146_10209744671066035_1643233580_n.jpg


July 18th-20th: I arranged with a driver in Samarkand to take me to another famous Silk Road trading city known as Bukhara. I rode with 3 other locals. It took 4 hours, multiple checkpoints and "WTF do you have a white person in your car?" looks from the checkpoint cops, but no real hassle and mostly friendly amusement. I made sure I got the front seat, because there was no AC (the driver charges extra) and three people sitting in the back. I truly feel bad for the middle guy in the back having two people sweat against him in the middle of the desert. Sites here included a fort called "The Ark", and nearby an old minaret.

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/sfeq8nko7/16295801_10209744548662975_2055587839_n.jpg

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/c5ok5ra07/16343843_10209744548822979_1125738764_n.jpg


July 20th- I took the train from Bukhara back to Tashkent and woke up at midnight July 21st to catch a 4 AM flight to St. Petersburg, Russia. When you depart the airport, you're required to account for every day you spent in the country by giving the customs officer a registration slip. Each time you check into a hotel/hostel, the staff registers you with the police station and gives you the registration slip issued by the place you stayed consisting of your name, and the dates you stayed there. I made damn sure to not lose a single one of them. I also made damn sure to have a cash declaration that was less than what I declared when I entered. Cash is scarce to them and taken pretty seriously.

Image: https://s29.postimg.org/3l0abp65j/fullsizeoutput_b9f.jpg



Jrv2damac
Kansas Fan
Member since Mar 2004
29697 posts

re: Uzbekistan
I ran out of room in the original post

I just wanted to add not a day goes by I don't think about this place at least a little bit. The people were great, and the cops were ridiculous. The country was extremely cheap, I went in with $550 of cash, and departed with about $45 dollars left. Most of my meals costed about 8000 som (way under a dollar).

Oh yeah, and a good bit of the women were a wonderful blend of Russian, Persian, and east Asian. Let them talk to you first, though...don't just go spitting game blindly.

I chose not to participate in nightlife, so I don't have anything to add about that.


CuseTiger
Syracuse Fan
Buffalo
Member since Jul 2013
5978 posts

re: Uzbekistan
This was a very interesting trip report, glad you had a great trip . I've never heard of anyone I know going to uzbekistan before so you're the first. Do you have more pictures? What were the meals like? Hotel rooms? It sounds like you could live like a king for $500, only problem is getting to that area of the world. How was safety at the rest of the locations you went to? I know you said you went through a bunch of checkpoints, but was there a police presence at markets or town squares, etc?


kingbob
LSU Fan
Sorrento, LA
Member since Nov 2010
50622 posts

re: Uzbekistan
Fascinating! Thank you for your post. I love getting to see places people don't normally go. Oh, you're going to Tuscany too? Beach vacay in Florida? Skiing in Colorado? great...


John McClane
New Orleans Saints Fan
Member since Apr 2010
33584 posts

re: Uzbekistan
Fascinating as hell.


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Jrv2damac
Kansas Fan
Member since Mar 2004
29697 posts

re: Uzbekistan
quote:

Do you have more pictures?


I have quite a lot, but I don't want the rant to see me.

quote:

What were the meals like?


They like their lamb and their flatbread, that's for sure. Eating plov was practically mandatory. I was always served a glass of this white stuff with a yogurt texture called Ayrak...I put my mouth to the cup, caught a whiff, and backed down immediately.

quote:

Hotel rooms?


I'm still in the backpacking style, but every hostel I stayed in I managed to get a private room with functional AC, which is all I was looking for.

quote:

It sounds like you could live like a king for $500, only problem is getting to that area of the world. How was safety at the rest of the locations you went to?


It takes a good bit of planning and luck really. It's far away, and I wouldn't have stopped in if it wasn't convenient geographically. However almost everything you need is extremely cheap regardless.

The only relative harassment I experienced was when a random guy in Bukhara tried to lecture me not to approach women (it was after two women sitting on a bench started conversing with me first) as it might antagonize other men. Another guy came along after him and told me he was a fricking idiot and don't worry about it. The only other uncomfortable encounters were police checking my passport every now and then, but that usually just ended with a smile and weird salute.


quote:


I know you said you went through a bunch of checkpoints, but was there a police presence at markets or town squares, etc?


I saw at least 3-5 cops every few blocks in the smaller cities, but not Tashkent. When I was in Samarkand, they would let the locals go in places for free but I however was asked to pay 5000 som to enter(so much for white privilege)


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Jrv2damac
Kansas Fan
Member since Mar 2004
29697 posts

re: Uzbekistan
quote:

Fascinating! Thank you for your post. I love getting to see places people don't normally go. Oh, you're going to Tuscany too? Beach vacay in Florida? Skiing in Colorado? great...




I was former AF for 7.5 years, 3.5 of it was a stint in Italy. When I wasn't deployed, travelling to those popular places was a breeze to knock out


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SM6
Navy Fan
South of ATL
Member since Jul 2008
7992 posts

re: Uzbekistan
Fantastic post. Really love seeing/reading about truly exotic places.

I know you said security in transit areas was tight, but do you have any pictures of airports/trains/stations? Would be curious to see what their infrastructure looks like.


baldona
Auburn Fan
Florida
Member since Feb 2016
10805 posts

re: Uzbekistan
Good stuff, very interesting. Did some of the locals speak a little english? You said the one guy gave you a hard time and then the next guy said it wasn't a big deal, did they yell at you in russian or broken english?


wickowick
LSU Fan
Head of Island
Member since Dec 2006
40663 posts

re: Uzbekistan
Very cool recap.


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Jrv2damac
Kansas Fan
Member since Mar 2004
29697 posts

re: Uzbekistan
Everywhere I spent the night I encountered decent English. On the streets about ten people. The dick spoke very bad English, the other guy was good. The women on the bench were excellent





This post was edited on 1/26 at 4:25 pm


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Jrv2damac
Kansas Fan
Member since Mar 2004
29697 posts

re: Uzbekistan
quote:

I know you said security in transit areas was tight, but do you have any pictures of airports/trains/stations? Would be curious to see what their infrastructure looks like.


Nope, sorry


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speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
2007 posts

re: Uzbekistan
Very cool. Thanks for sharing this. I love reading, hearing about and visiting unique locations. This one is most definitely unique.


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AmeriKop45
LSU Fan
Coach, Wing Tip Seat
Member since Jan 2016
2102 posts

re: Uzbekistan
In awe of this. This is true travel. Great report OP. What made you pick Uzbekistan? What other unique places have you been to similar to this?


ETA: Would also love to see more pics if possible.
This post was edited on 1/26 at 10:05 pm


DoUrden
Tennessee Fan
UnderDark
Member since Oct 2011
22925 posts

re: Uzbekistan
You take some amazing trips, I want to have your travel itenerary, make threads to review your trips so we can all be jealous, see your amazing photos, and so others can benefit from your knowledge.


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HoustonGumbeauxGuy
LSU Fan
Member since Jul 2011
17831 posts

re: Uzbekistan
Sorry it took a nudge to get into the sticky....next time please indicate that its a photo journal or a trip review in the subject title. Awesome review BTW...thanks!


This post was edited on 1/27 at 9:38 am


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Nodust
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2010
21119 posts

re: Uzbekistan
Very cool trip. Thanks for sharing.


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Jrv2damac
Kansas Fan
Member since Mar 2004
29697 posts

re: Uzbekistan
quote:

What made you pick Uzbekistan? What other unique places have you been to similar to this?


I was sent to Kyrgyzstan in my AF days about 7 years ago. That stint made me interested in returning to the region later on from a personal standpoint. My goal the summer trip last year was to go literally across the world, and Uzbekistan was a good stopping point between East Asia and Europe. I was torn between there and Kazahkstan, but Kazahkstan is rather large and I couldn't nail down a productive 9 day itinerary like I could Uzbekistan. Having read about it and the way it runs, I just couldn't resist the opportunity to go somewhere like that and I'm glad I did.

In terms of similar places in terms of uniqueness (although very different from Uzbekistan), I later on made my way to Georgia in that trip. That place was also very memorable and I'll do a thread on that one later on


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