Translated by: Gréta Kojsza
Uzbekistan was the first “Istan” county which we could absolutely lose ourselves in. We had the opportunity to see life at tourist destinations, in villages and in “no men’s land” as well.
After Turkmenistan, entering the borderlines of the country was such mental refreshment! We were cloud on nine that one of the most difficult parts of our journey was over, but we’ve already got different kind of difficulties in connection with crossing the border: the uncertainty of accommodation registration was still bothering us. We didn’t want any trouble or get fined on the border. Having “real” accommodation each night would be luxurious and unaccomplishable. We knew that we would have to do wild camping sometimes.
June and July are the off-seasons in Uzbekistan in terms of tourism. Summer is long and dry, often with 45C° degrees. Cities are empty these days, tourists visit the country mainly Spring or Autumn. We were definitely lucky as the weather turned irregularly cool in the first few days. The thermometer showed 30-32 C° degrees and we were more than happy about it.
Roads are in pretty good conditions, drivers by-passed us in great bends and tooted us, sometimes accompanied by friendly waves and smiles. They drive gently, slowly. Some of them stopped and with the question “Otkuda?” wanted to know our final destination and how do we like Uzbekistan. We even got some melon and yogurt as refreshments. Besides Lada and Volga, which remained from classic soviet era, only Chevrolet and Daewoo can be seen on roads.
Landscape and ambience
Except the Kamchik pass and its surroundings heading to Fergana Valley, there’s not too much to be excited about. People do farming in most parts of the country and we were so glad to see it! They grow wheat, tomato, potato, pumpkin, cotton and any other kind of vegetable or fruit. They raise animals in parallel, mainly neat and turkey. “Donkey-carriage” is quite popular in villages.
People in villages are hygienic, properties are clean and tidied. The only thing we noticed and didn’t understand: the garbage is collected in the garden. After a proper amount is piled up, they simply burn it. The issue of waste treatment is not solved yet in the countryside.
Bukhara, Samarkand, Kokand and Andijon are beautiful and organized cities with fair parks. Cycling in these towns was an amazing experience as the traffic wasn’t teeming at all.
Samsa (pastries filled with meat, baked in furnace) is also made here, but the most popular one is the plov. We had the opportunity to taste is more times. People tend to say that each region has its own style. We tasted a dish, which was a bit too heavy and greasy for our taste. It was made of rice, mixed with vegetables and meat, poured with a huge amount of fat.
People are friendly and helpful, but not that informal that we are used to. Golden teeth are popular here as well. We noticed that people age “earlier”. Youngsters in their 20’s look 30-35 years old or even more. Everyone seemed at least 10 years elder than he/she actually is. Men wear European clothes, women wear long tunics and trousers. Most of the population is Muslin, but it’s not like in Iran. If we can use the expression “light” Muslin, then they are light. Men and women wore European clothes in cities. We met a lot of men, who were soldiers in Hungary in the 70’s or 80’s. One of them welcomed us with “Szevasz komám” when he saw our Hungarian flag.
On the whole
Uzbekistan possesses a rich historical past that its inhabitants are really proud of. Even though the country changed a lot since Ármin Vámbéry visited the real “wild East” in the XIX. century, the sense of the place is still intense.