Saturday, 16 March 2019

Glimpses of Uzbekistan - exploring Bukhara

Glimpses of Uzbekistan - exploring Bukhara
Pardon me for the inevitable delay in publishing this final chapter of my Uzbekistan trip. I was backpacking in Sri Lanka for good two weeks, and soon enough you'll get to see myriad colorful collages of the erstwhile Ceylon. In the earlier post I had narrated a fair bit of our day trip to Samarkand. Today I'll introduce you with Bukhara, another historical city located about 600 kilometers west of Tashkent, prominent on the ancient Silk Road map, and also popular among tourists for being one of the four UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Uzbekistan. It was the fifth day of our itinerary. We had a return flight to board that midnight. We could either spend the day lazily exploring market areas of Tashkent, or hop onto an early morning high-speed train to Bukhara for a whirlwind guided tour. By now, you already know which button we had pressed. Well, it wasn't an easy call. Just understand the mathematics first. Afrosiyob dropped us at Bukhara railway station by 11:15 AM and we had to catch the train back for Tashkent right at 3:45 PM. So, practically we had less than 4 hours to get a decent glimpse of the city. Was that time slot sufficient to explore Bukhara? Hell no! Was it worthy for us? A big 'yes'!

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Glimpses of Uzbekistan - exploring Samarkand

Glimpses of Uzbekistan - exploring Samarkand
Samarkand, often affectionately referred as "Rome of the East" is not only an UNESCO World Heritage site of Uzbekistan, but one of the oldest cities in the world which has gallantly preserved centuries-old history of human civilization since 742 BC. Like a phoenix, this ancient city of Samarkand has suffered repeated knockouts, and after each fall it has rebuilt itself from the ashes, appearing more majestic and appealing than before! We took a guided day trip to Samarkand from Tashkent on the fourth day of our itinerary, and I feel blessed to have taken such a right decision. If you read my post on 7 days of ideal Uzbekistan itinerary, you'll get to know that exploring Samarkand is not feasible unless you halt overnight there. But, at least we got a glimpse of the beautiful historical city, which was chronologically capital of various empires, starting from Sogdia in 4th century BC, to the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in 20th century AD. More importantly, Samarkand remodeled our perspective on Uzbekistan which our subconscious mind had archived after exploring Tashkent in first two days.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Glimpses of Uzbekistan - exploring Tashkent

Glimpses of Uzbekistan - exploring Tashkent
Tashkent is the capital of beautiful Uzbekistan, an apparently modern metropolitan, yet one of the oldest cities located on the great Silk Road, holding its immense significance as the political, economic, cultural and scientific center of the rapidly developing nation. Unlike bustling capitals of most other Asian countries which are often too overwhelming for first-timers , Tashkent offers a much more relaxed and welcoming atmosphere to outsiders. Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport, the port of entry for most foreign tourists, is itself compact enough to be explored on a pair of flip-flops. Remember, do not click photos of the airfield as it is prohibited. As you clear your immigration and step out of the airport, there won't be any herd of pushy taxi drivers to bewilder you.

When I and my friend failed to trace the tour guide who was supposed to wait outside the arrival area with a placard, we were kind of frustrated and clueless. Evening was fast filling the sky. Winter chill was making its presence felt. Communicating with locals seemed a bit difficult. To top it all, we had no local SIM. It was a cab driver who came to our rescue. In the beginning, we misjudged his friendliness as some swindling motive. But, we were very wrong! It was our first encounter with the unexpected Uzbek hospitality. Before you take a drive into the city of Tashkent, I recommend you to go through the ideal 7 days Uzbekistan itinerary I had blogged earlier, and also valid reasons for you to backpack Uzbekistan.