My Uzbek Holiday
After spending eight weeks by myself in Tajikistan, you can imagine how eager I was to have Ryan visit, even if it was only for ten days. It was so good to have him here, even though he refused to eat anything with lamb fat in it! There isn’t too much to do in Khujand, but it did serve as a good rest after his long flight. Plus, I got to take advantage of all the little treats he brought me, mainly cribbage, coffee, and chocolate!
Our trip into Uzbekistan turned out to be a little more exciting than we had anticipated. We originally planned to avoid the mountains by taking the long way around to Samarqand, but we couldn’t turn down a ride to Penjikent, Tajikistan. This required going over the mountains, but it was an easier trek once we got there. I won’t go into detail (I did upload some pics from the drive) but it is safe to say that none of our parents would have been to pleased with the trip.
The old mosques and mausoleums in Samarqand and Bukhara are really incredible. I was not prepared for their dominating presence and incredible beauty. My mouth dropped as we drove into the city and I glimpsed the first of the giant structures. We passed by several more on our way to the guest house…..they just kept going and the city seemed content to move around them.
We arrived into Samarqand well past lunch and were famished by the time we found a place to eat. Immediately after ordering our meals, two people at the table next to ours invited us to join in a vodka toast. One shot somehow turned into 6 or 8 and, after a couple hours, we were feeling pretty loopy. We managed to get in at least one tourist stop before deciding to head back to a bar for dinner (it seemed like a good idea at the time). It was a long and wonderful first day in Uzbekistan.
Life in Uzbekistan is shockingly different than life in Tajikistan. It felt so much more developed and had so much more going on. While this was a nice change, the more engaging lifestyle was also overwhelming. We were constantly overwhelmed by masses of people smoking and the constant presence of alcohol. In Khujand, people pretty much leave me alone but in Uzbekistan, we were endlessly approached by people trying to practice their English – it’s nice the first few times but it gets old after you’ve heard “Hello Meester” 20 or 30 times. After two months of being surrounded by conservative dress, I was also slightly shocked by the short skirts and tight jeans that dominated the fashion scene.
Unfortunately, the trip was not all vodka and roses. Ryan suffered from food poisoning, our flight back to Tashkent turned into a nightmare, and the strict registration requirements caused more than one headache. By the time we finally arrived in Tashkent, where Ryan would depart, we were worn out shells of our former selves. Thankfully, we had the most wonderful host. Alex, a friend of our dear friend Jamie, nursed us back to health with lots of tea, good food, and hot water! We even got to lounge around and watch DVD’s – it was the perfect way to wind down the trip.
Ryan is now back in the U.S. and I am now back at my home in Tajikistan. I only have 10 more days in the country, before I head back to Alex’s oasis in Tashkent in order to prepare for my departure flight, and it is going to be a roller coaster of a time. I feel so alive and inspired by the process that I’ve been experiencing for the past 9 weeks, but my body and mind are also challenged by the electricity cuts and constant cold. I am anxious to see all of my friends and family, but I am scared to return to the stress of my way-too-busy life. I am excited to be going home but I will really miss this country – it wasn’t always the most entertaining or friendly place, but it has managed to work its way into my heart.
Click Here are some pics from the trip
Or Click Here for the slideshow version
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