Uzbekistan- Kyrgyzstan

25 days - august  2004


Kind of travel: alone in a wholly independent travel

When: july- august 2004 (25 days)

How I moved (in Uzbekistan): mainly by bus, minibus (marshrutmyy), private cars, train and shared taxi.

Where I slept: in cheap guesthouses (5-20$) and in private houses of just known people

What I liked: the amazing ethnic mix, to figure out the recent and the future history of the country, the Bahodir guesthouse in Samarkand and all the crazy travellers I met on my way.

What I dislike: the irritating police in Tashkent, the endless roadblocks on the way to Fergana, the mountains in Fergana valley (where're?) and the visa hassles to travel between the stans

How much daily: (for a lowlow budget travel) sleeping  5-15$, eating 2-5$, travelling is cheap (you can pay a local to rent a 4 people private car (40$ 800 km in the desert) also flying is really affordable). What will take most of your budget will be the visas (40-80$)

Freezing or baking?: definitely baking!!!!!! In Tashkent it's bearable but westward to Aral Sea, you will sweat a lot. Anyway in comparison to south asia in summer, this is a nice climate! Fergana valley is fresher.

Dangers: irritating policemen in Tashkent  interested in your money, some cheatings int he streets (read the story), but globally I would consider Uzbekistan a safe country.

What you do need: as much as you can learn of russian and curiosity for the past and future of Central Asia, otherwise change your plans!

INTRO(common part for Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan pages)

Why in Central Asia?

Since my travel in Iran in the 2000, that part of world south of Siberia and encompassed between the Caspian Sea and China, in my mind has always been a mysterious jigsaw of countries rarely mentioned. I’m not speaking about pure desert, but about an area as big as Europe containing a meaningful percentage of the world energy resources, exactly as it happens for most of Africa. However what definitely attracted me was the curiosity about which kind of ethnic groups live there, if exists and where is the "ethnic border" between Asia and Europe. Travelling in Iran let me to focus the southern border of this area, while being in Russia the northern one.
Once chosen the Central Asia as target I realised it’s really huge and it hasn’t been easy to select which among the five "stans" was worth to be visited. The must was not more than two countries for my 25 days trip. Turkmenistan seems too hassling to get the visa and travel freely throughout the country, furthermore too hot in summer, and baking my brain definitely is not my passion. Kazakhstan is hot as well and a lot of people warned me as the least interesting among the stans. Uzbekistan was a kind of must to be seen and Kyrgyzstan seemed to fit better with travelling by public means of transport than Tagikistan. Hence there I ended up


I flew from Italy stopping over in Istanbul and then to Tashkent. It was deep night (1.00 am) when got my luggage and I definitely started my travel in Central Asia. Lonely Planet warns about taxi drivers hassling at the airport, but frankly I didn’t see many of them. Anyway I had no accommodation booked, so, rather them trusting alone any uzbek taxi driver in the middle of the night in a totally unknown place, I follow a french couple to the hotel where they had already reserved room, and did my first central asian bargain.
The next day I woke up quite dizzy in my gloomy room and started walking to the centre. It was a super hot but dry sunny day, as all the other ones turned out to be during my travel in Uzbekistan. I wanted to apply for my kyrgyz visa at the embassy, and luckily paying an extra I got it on the spot (details about visas). Then I went to the unmissable Tara Hotel in the southern outskirts of the capital.
Tashkent is not that much nice, in fact apart from the police stopping you to swindle you and a small waterpark where I spent my last day, you’ll just yearn to flee asap. So I did and the next day I got to the wonderful Samarcanda. It took 6 hours by bus where once again travelling by public means of transport let me to know the locals and have fun. I was eager to test my russian and for sure any passenger could be aware of the torture could mean sat near me for hours :-)
There’re no words to describe how was pleasant my staying in Samarcanda; not only for the beauty of the town itself with all its highlights, but mainly for the travellers and the locals I met there. I settled down in the Bahodir guesthouse, a small but cute place where I spent 4 days hearing travelogues and exchanging opinion about journeys in the furthest corners of the world.
Here I met Olga and Nick, the russian-american couple with who I travelled for one week in Khiva and Buhara, Martin the crazy german biker I’d have met by chance two weeks later in Kyrgyzstan spending a bunch of days and a danish couple who helped me to get to the Song Kol lake at 3000m in the hearth of Kyrgyzstan.
One of the four days I did a day trip by a shared taxi to the small but worthwhile town of the Uzbek hero Temur": Shakharisab.
My next leg turned out to be quite tough: it took 16 endless super tiring hours by bus to get to Khiva, and I promised you, I’d not do such trip again. It took one full day to rest and to forget about all those hours spent pushing away a sucker Uzbek who though I was his pillow on an Africa style bus!!!!!!!
I didn’t expect Khiva to be such nice place: the old town is small but concentrated inside high and thick fortifications. I slept in a private house after a whole morning bargain (thanks Olga!!!!!!!) and wandered inside the old town exploring most of its "labyrinth style" narrow streets.It reminded me the city of Bam (Iran), those who managed to see it before the earthquake will agree.
After few days through in the endless corners of Khiva, we (me, Nick and Olga) took the way back to Buhara. No way we still got the supertiring bus!!! So we found a guy who brought us by car for 40$. I promised you that such journey has been one of the most interesting of the whole travel. First of all we diverted to the ruins of the old fortress of Topraq-Quala. It was not just for the highlight, quite interesting anyway, but mainly for the landscape. It was amazing watching the green cotton fields grown along huge artificial lakes and canals turn into desert covered somewhere by a layer of salt. Then the whole journey was 400 km done in 9 hours through a sandy white desert along the Amu Darya River. I still remember the feeling of being in a huge hair dryer due to the hot air coming from the car window. Definitely the hottest leg I did in the whole trip, but it was absolutely worthwhile. In fact on the way we found one yurt of a family living in the very desert, as I got closer three children come out staring at me like I was an alien; frankly I’m still wandering how they could stand to live in such climate. Unfortunately the man who gave us the lift was in hurry and didn’t let me to try to communicate with them, and I had just the time for some shots.
Buhara is worth its fame: definitely the most soviet of the uzbek city that I’ve visited in Uzbekistan, but around a nice and well-maintained historical area, although being quite touristy.Here we sadly split and I proceed alone back to Tashkent by train; I recommend you as the best mean of transport connecting Buhara to the capital.
From Tashkent I got a shared taxi to Fergana (6 hours). For the first two hours through the Tien Shan mountains to reach the Kamchic pass there’s a very nice landscape and it’s as fresh as I hadn’t felt for the last 2 weeks!!!! The only incredible hassle were the endless checking points on the way that oblige the car to a continuo slow down and speed up. I hope you’re not prone to motion sickness :-)After the pass the landscape gets boring and anonymous for the whole Fergana Valley. As LP claims, the first sentence you say getting there, is: "where’s the valley??". In fact there’s no really any valley or since it is very wide you don’t notice it, but at least it is fresher than the rest of the country. Although from this point of view I got disappointed I think it’s worth travelling there since it’s so culturally different from the rest of country that you cannot have a general idea of Uzbekistan if you haven’t see Fergana Valley.
I visited the interesting silk factory in Marghilan and then I entered in Kyrgyzstan sleeping my first kyrgyz night in the supersoviet and "really not uzbek" city of Osh.
From here I was to lazy to spend 15 hours on a bumping jeep to get to Bishkek and, shame on me, I flew: 40$ for 1 hour flight plus the wonderful view of the mountains: sorry but I think I’d do it again!!
My primary task in the kyrgyz capital was to get the kasakh transit visa. I got immediately disappointed knowing that on wensday the embassy was closed and 2 whole days were necessary to have it. Obviously I arrived at the embassy on Tuesday just after it had closed. No way to wait four days for it, " I’ll get it in the way back!". Then I left by minibus to Kochkor. 6 hours packed in a super uncomfortable kind of tonne can, moreover later I found out I didn’t paid so much less than taking a faster shared taxi. Just to make my travel better, the road snakes at the feet of the mountains and the driver probably was feeling like Schumacher :-) so I spent part of the travel trying to avoid to throw up on the people around me!
Kochkor is a small town, but I found it more than a starting point for the trip to the Tien Shan mountains. Luckily I found a so nice danish guy, known to weeks before in Samarcanda, who was leaving for 3 days trip to the lake Song Kol sleeping the the yurt of the herders at 3000 meter. To share the expenses of the jeep I joined the group (him and some other travellers) and at the end such trip turned out the most interesting experience of the whole travel.(read about it)
Back to Kochkor I reached Karakol by minibus in 7 hours; there I hang around for two days visiting the animal market and the crowded beaches of the lake Issuk Kul. It was time to start my way back to Tashkent: I got to Bishkek where I freaked out for 3 days to have my kazakh transit visa but enjoying a lot to stay at Sabyrbek's B&B guesthouse with nice family of the owner!
Then by bus I entered in Kazakhstan and I stopped in Shymkent. After wandering in the town for few hours I easily got in Tashkent where I spent my last afternoon at a water entertaiment park relaxing and trying to gather thousands of impressions of my last month through Central Asia.



If you brought me in Uzbekistan without letting me to know where I’m, but looking at the people, I could say it’s Russia, Turkey, Iran or Afghanistan. I promise you that Uzbekistan has the most mixed population I’ve ever seen!! And this is wonderful! The history justifies it: first of all Uzbekistan is an artificial country built by the madness of Stalin not more than 80 years ago. In fact before 1924 it didn’t exist any of the central asian "stans". Besides before the Russian conquer in the late 19th century, it was an area in the midway of the silk road, an old commercial ax between the far east and Turkey. While during the stalian government the Russian influence, and consequently the ethnic mixing with russians, has been definitely increased. After the URSS scrambled, the country tied up the relations with Turkey and with Korea too, who, for instance, practically has the monopoly of the car market in the country. The result of such mess is an amazing puzzle of ethnic groups.The funny thing is that going eastward and entering in Kyrgyzstan this mixing is extremely lower and the lineaments become definitely closer to the mongolian ones. So it seems that the "ethnic border" between Europe and Asia is between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Anyway from the attitude point of view of the people I would say that I felt more in Iran (namely in Middle East) than in Russia (in Kyrgyzstan for instance is less evident). In fact people are so nice and interested to know about what there’s outside their country, but meanwhile quite discrete; apart when they want to sell you something or you have to bargain, however once you have refused, rarely they insist twice, but the kids obviously. Travelling eastward of the country (Buhara- Khiva) people seem more hospitable than in the area of the capital or in Fergana valley, but it doesn’t surprise being both such regions definitely less rural than Khiva for instance. Right here in fact, while I was walking on the big walls of the old town, a man sat outside his door invited me at home. First of all he ordered to his small nephew to bring some water to let me rinse the hands. Then let me inside to his two-room house. We spoke a lot about the tough past and the enigmatic present in Uzbekistan. In the meanwhile the old wife was offering me probably all the food they had.
Obviously the kindness of the people you met is proportional to your ability to communicate, that’s why I think can make the difference to learn some russian or even better, some Turkish. In fact central asian languages (Uzbek, Tajik, Kyrgyz) are strongly based on Turkish and have nothing in common with russian, even you see them written in Cyrillic.
I've met so many interesting locals: how I can forget about the teacher on the bus from Tashkent to Samarcanda who told me about their sons and all the uzbek traditions: for instance the fact that the man in the couple is the one who has to bring the money (bad habits!!!:-). She got so impressed about the fact I wasn’t married although I was 30 years old, I guess she though I was homosexual or something like this!:-) And what about the already married sixteen years old girl a who I met in a shared taxi: she was so proud of her golden teeth, showing them without shame, apart when she threw up due to her moving sickness. Moreover I met a sister and her brother with his wife who gave me a lift in Fergana Valley. He was joking convincing me to marry his sister, but when she gave me her address he stopped laughing and turned extremely seriously. In short in Uzbekistan I found in the people nothing to do with the highly rough russian attitude, unlike in Kyrgyzstan, where often the attitude of the people seemed closer to the ex mother land.
Moreover, unlike Russia, people like to be photographed; in fact, if you always ask kindly, nobody will never deny you a smile for your picture.
In my mind I’ve fixed an image of a former entertainment park settled in a green not maintained area with old rusty merry-go-rounds and a big Ferris wheel, where a group of lively kids are playing, feeling like on their territory. I know it’s seems funny, but this is something you see almost in any uzbek city.



At the end to travel in Uzbekistan turned out easier than I thought: there’re many public means of transport and quite comfortable. People are friendly and the low budget accommodations abound. However Central Asia is not Thailand or Paris, namely avoid going there just to see how is it: to really enjoy it you need to be interested in such part of the world, especially looking these countries through the eyes of their past and the opportunities of their future.


Click here of the
itinerary map!




Where I slept: comfortable guesthouse even with the bathroom! (5$ but after and intense bargaining of the russian girl I was travelling with; sorry, no way you’ll get such price)
Getting there and away: Khiva-Buhara, bus private taxi (40$, 8 hours I raccomend it because it let you to stop where you want on the way: for instance swim on Amir dariaXXX or see the yurt in the deserts). Buhara.Samarcanda: train (15 hours, better alternative to the awfull bus, being a night train you won’t really feel the travel)
Special activities: sauna and painful massagge in a "russian banja"


It was the last one I visited after having been in Samarcanda and Khiva. Although I didn’t have big expectations, I really appreciate it. It has nothing to do with both of them: for a certain point of view is the most touristy, but definitely it’s far from being crowded. Anyway it’s evident that the entire old town lives on the tourism and the souvenir stalls, guesthouses and restaurants abound. But as usual a bunch of hundred meters further from the main way you hardly will see foreigners and you really feel its atmosphere, especially in all the narrow unpaved streets snaking around the houses and forming a kind of labyrinth.
This one around the old town is a poor part of Buhara, but further, there’s the real town that is definitely the most russian town I’ve seen in the country: green wide boulevards (prospekta), huge squares, and soviet style buildings show the past. I spent nice time wandering through the markets buying russian books for uzbek students. It was quite interesting to see the development that the soviet government brought, in term of means of transport, services, parks… even not pricelessly.
During my staying the weather was so nice: hot but pleasant being dry and quite ventilated.
What I mostly remember of Buhara? The swimming pool in the old town where uzbek guys were diving from the branches of the high trees, the green park with rusty merry-go-rounds and the russian banja where I had a sauna with a painful massage or better a skin grinding!!!


Where I slept: private house (5 $) after a tough bargaining of Olga (russian travelmate). Clean and nice, even the family was quite cold (in 3 days I’v almost never seen them). It’s plenty of such accommodations
Getting there and away: Khiva-Buhara, bus private taxi (40$, 8 hours I raccomend it because it let you to stop where you want on the way: for instance swim on Amu Daryaor see the yurt in the deserts).

Samarcanda-Khiva: night bus, 12 hours. Terrible!! I don’t recommend you!! It was so crowded and hot. My god, it took one full day to rest after it.

Special activities: for sure you’ll know a small girl called Berna, or better she will find you!!. Don’t miss a trip in the desert to the ruins of the fortresses, it’s worthwhile





If Khiva was in Italy it would be crowded of tourists, but in Uzbekistan it manages to mantains its charm. In fact I didn’t meet many foreigners although the numerous souvenirs shops show how the locals count on the tourism. Frankly I didn’t expect Khiva to be so cute, moreover it’s completely different from Buhara and from Samarkand: don’t skip it thinking it’s enough with them, you would miss a lot.
The interesting part is the small town skirted by the huge mud walls. All inside it’s a labyrinth of narrow streets, mosques and houses whose garden you can peek at from the half opened wooden doors. It’s worth spending two days mainly hanging around in the early morning or late afternoon (after 4.30 pm) due to the hotness (in summer I mean). While the in the mid afternoon you can sit and sip some tea under the shadow in a chaikhana (tea house).
Moreover don’t miss a walk through the town outside the walls; the people will not hesitate to invite you inside one of the several tiny mosques or kids to strike a pose for a picture. It’s a different world but it’s still Uzbekistan






Where I slept: in the Bahodir guesthouse: GO THERE ‘cause it so nice!!! (6$ for a big double room without bathroom)
Getting there and away: Tashkent- Samarcanda: bus, 5 hours (few $)

Samarcanda-Khiva: night bus, 12 hours. Terrible!! I don’t recommend you!! It was so crowded and hot. My god, it took one full day to rest after it.


Samarcanda doesn’t disappoint its fame: the whole town with the Registan and the several others huge mosques form a kind of unique big monument. In addition considering that is the main uzbek highlight, I didn’t find that much touristy, anyway less than Buhara.
What I mainly remember are the green boulevard and the streams along them, that made the atmosphere really fresher, even during the hottest days.
I spent definitely more days than I planned, not to visit the monument but ‘cause I enjoyed my staying in the guesthouse. It was a pleasure to wake up, have a tea, a chat with some crazy traveller (and it was plenty), a stroll in the market and then spend the afternoon studying russian, sipping tea and hassling Bahodir (the supernice guesthoues owner) with my questions about the russian language. The atmosphere reminded me a lot the one that several years before I lived in the heart of Iran, Esfhan. I found extremely nice people in the town. In particular I knew a group of Uzbek students who were quite eager to speak English who took me around the town and in the Guri Amir mausoleum where they show me how they prayed.


Click here of the
itinerary map!






Where I slept: daytrip (in Samarkand)
Getting there and away: shared taxi from Samarkand (2 hours)
Special activities: enjoy the trip to get there, apart in your car there isn't a young girl throwing up as it happened to me


Definitely isn’t not an unmissable place, but if you aren’t rushing and you want a break after some days in Samarkand I think you can have a nice day trip there. Shakhrisabz was Timur’s hometown and still there’re the ruins of the old huge gate of his palace (you can climb up and admire the landscape). However, more than such ruins, what was interesting for me has been the car trip to get there. The road snakes around the mountains that from Samarkad towards Taijkistan slowly grow, and let you to see the rural life of Uzbekistan that, staying in the towns you can hardly feel.

Funny stories






It was my first day in Tashkent after a tiring night arrival in the capital, when I was walking not far from the centre looking for the kyrgyz embassy. I was on a large sidewalk along a park and a roughly thirty years old guy while quickly passing me suddenly got from the floor a fat bundle of dollars tied with a green string. Immediately he asked if they were mine, I hesitated a little, since ten minutes before I took some money from my backpack to change them. The funny thing is that I had similar bundles of dollars tied with a similar string!!! I knew they were in my backpack, but obviously it took some seconds to realise that I didn’t put none of them in my pocket and so that I couldn’t have dropped. When I said they weren’t mine he started jumping for the happiness and thanking God for the luck he had have. He was so happy that I though he could burst into tears :-) Then he turned to me begging to shut up about it. Frankly I didn’t answer since I wasn’t still trying to figure out the whole situation, then he proposed me to share them. He played greatly, because he didn’t clearly offer me, and meanwhile he was carrying on asking if he could keep them.
Then I felt the situation too strange, even I hadn’t still got which was the trick, and I was saying him I didn’t mind, when another man came asking if I had found some money. He couldn’t see I didn’t take them from his fellow since he was in my back. Then I quickly moved away and they as well left together definitely disappointed.
I think the trick was that if you accept to share the money then, when you have to give them back, the guy who was supposed to have lost them counts them and claims there’re some missing and he wants them back from you.



I was eating in Samarcanda in a typical uzbek restaurant with a just met traveller while something incredibly noisy was happening upstairs. Any kind of human being could not be able to emanate such sounds. After a while I couldn’t resist and I went to see: it was a wedding ceremony. Two man were standing, one on a mixer system and the other one with the microphones "singing" on the base; behind them two speakers relative small for the amount of noise they were able to produce. Dancing and drinking (mainly drinking) were at least 60 people. The men were all well dressed with trousers and shirts, while the women with colourful long dresses and super evident make ups: to me all the women seems dressed up for a kind of carnival, but you know, that was their tradition. I observed them for a bunch of minute then I came back downstairs to eat something, but I couldn’t withstand the temptation and immediately I went upstairs with my camera.
Initially I was a little bit worried about the reaction; I blended in the crowd to dance like being a relative. Since everybody seemed quite enthusiastic of my presence I shyly started taking some pictures, but immediately somebody grabbed me from the back; he was a guy who was shouting something, then I realised: he wanted me to drink with him and taking picture of his family. Yeah!!!! I started swallowing vodka and still vodka in one shot for glass, while people were crowding around the table to try to enter in the pics. At the beginning I was excited but after a while I realised I couldn’t stop the thing. In fact it turned out that for the guys it was a matter of pride to be photographed hugging a woman, thus they started insisting. However after the tenth pic of a typical uzbek drunk guy and a super made up typical uzbek girl both striking a pose like posing for the cover of the TIME, I wanted quit. Taking also in account that for every shot there was a glass of vodka drank. So kindly I started declining the requests, but for them was so important that, it seems incredibly, some offered me money.
The funny thing is that they were not interested in the picture, in fact nobody asked me how to get it developed, but it was just a matter to show off.
In such mess of drunken people dancing the just married couple was seriously sat by their own. Looking them it seemed somebody was just dead. Sometimes they stood up handing some notes that the guest, while dancing, took and put again on the table. Funny, innit?
The ceremony ended up with the couple leaving by car after all the guest took them in a kind of procession, I had in my body more vodka then blood and had 40 pictures in my camera of a typical uzbek wedding ceremony



Agosto 2004, Buhara

Caro Babbo,

finora tutto bene, fortunatamente senza grandi intoppi, a parte qualche trabocchetto. Appena arrivato a Tashkent sono andato alla ricerca del consolato kirgico per il visto. Arrivo lì. Chiedo alle guardie. E loro mi fanno compilare un po' di scartoffie, dicendo che per il costo e le tempistiche dovevo chiedere al console (?). Aspetto, aspetto, aspetto e finalmente entro in sta' casetta dove c'e' un tipo che mi mostra un foglio, rigorosamente in russo, dove dice che per il visto ci vogliono 7 gg lavorativi.
NO WAY che io sto 10gg a Tashkent.
Glie spiego un po' e lui non ci mette molto a dirmi che per me (ovviamente) avrebbe fatto una speciale procedure express: visto in 15 minuti alla modica cifra di 80$. E così e' stato!!

Mentre sono in periferia della capitale camminando tranquillo tranquillo mi sorpassa un tipo che improvvisamente raccoglie un pacco di dollaroni da terra. Inizia ad esultare ringraziando Allah letteralmente con le lacrime agli occhi. Poi mi dice che se non dico nulla del ritrovamento facciamo 50-50, io esito per un 10ina di sec un po' confuso in quanto nello zaino avevo un pacco di dollaroni legati con un elastico verde molto simile solo più chiaro. Ma poi realizzo che non potevano essere miei e gli dico che io non ne voglio sapere nulla. Lui rimane molto deluso appena mi sente parlare in russo (i russi non sono considerati i polli come gli stranieri, anzi.) ma mentre continua a dirmi di fare 50-50 per il mio silenzio arriva un altro tipo che chiede a me se ho preso dei soldi da terra. colgo il momento di confusione per filarmela. I due rimangono a guardarsi intristiti per la truffa mancata.. Peccato il primo era stato così bravo che veramente meritava io ci cascassi.
L'inganno probabilmente scattava nel momento in cui io avrei preso parte dei $, l'amico me li avrebbe richiesti indietro reclamando in seguito che ne mancavano alcuni.
Qui tutti parlano russi, una buona parte parla uzbeko, solo una cera percentuale e' in grado di leggere l'alfabeto romano introdotto al posto del cirillico dal governo dopo l'indipendenza. Cmq tra di loro un po' parlano russo un po' parlano uzbeko e scrivono sempre comunque in cirillico.
Una cosa che ho notato e' che hanno una gran voglia di chiacchierare ed io certo non li deludo anzi, secondo me molti pensano che io abbia un grave problema alla lingua che mi obbliga a muoverla sempre.
Lungo l'infinito tragitto per Samarcanda tra le pianure Uzbeke coltivate a cotone due signore si sono alternate di fianco a me: La prima mi ha raccontato dei suoi figli: I maschi (23 anni) che non hanno i soldi per sposarsi, , mentre aspetta che la femmina (15) compia i 18 per cuccarsi il danaro, infatti qui vige la malsana consuetudine che sia l'uomo a portare i soldi e la donna aspetta a mani vuote. Per fortuna in Italia non funziona cosi!!!!!!!!!! :/) Quando le ho detto che non ero sposato:SCIAGURA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Non esser sposato a 30anni!!! Probabilmente ha pensato fossi gay!
L'altra donna che a vederla non le davi una lira. Invece si e' rivelata essere prof di mate e fisica e parlava taijko, turko, uzbeko, e russo che tra di loro sono lingue di radice molto differente mi deve aver preso in simpatia e mi accompagnato fino al centro di Samarcanda, dandomi il suo indirizzo e insistendo di andare da lei se non avessi trovato posto da dormire. Domani pensavo di passare a trovarla....
Oggi in Samarcanda mi sono imbattuto in 3 studenti universitari che come tanti qui volevano fare pratica di inglese e mi hanno accompagnato per la città,e poi in una moschea- mausoleo dove probabilmente sono rimasti delusi quando hanno iniziato a pregare in estasi e io sono rimasto tranquillo a guardali della serie:" se piace a te piace anche a me, e continua pure."
Ma sono stati così gentili e poi hanno intermediato con i guardiani per farmi pagare la metà...
La ciliegina sulla mela e' stata la sera quando stavo mangiando in un "ristorante" e sentivo un casino infernale. Vado al piano superiore e mica mi becco un tipico matrimonio uzbeco con centinaia di invitati e non so quante donne in abiti con fronzoli e brillantini vari che ballavano che sembrava di essere al circo? Me la rido per 15 min, parlo con un po' di persone per chiedere l'età dello sposo e della sposa, poi scendo ancora, mentre sono giu' mi viene in mente che potrei fare un po' di foto. NON L"AVESSI MAI FATTO!!!!!
Vado su e inizio a ballare come un cretino (cioè come loro) mi si mettono tutti intorno, le donne poi sembrava avessero in testa un abat-jour e chiedo se posso fare una foto. Mi prende un tipo da dietro e mi dice di no se non avevo prima fatto un brindisi con la vodka. Io accetto, e poi un secondo e poi un terzo e inizio a fare foto. La gente litigava per mettersi in gruppo intorno ad un tavolo. Letteralmente mi abbracciava dicendo "mio amico, viva la sposa e bevendo bevendo.tutti ubriachi, compreso me dopo il primo quarto d'ora" ad un certo punto sono andato a fotografare la sposa che serissima con lo sposo tenevano i soldi i mano, mentre gli invitati glieli strappavano per rimetterli sul tavolo..bho!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Poi mi ha attaccato bottone una tipa tutta fronzoli e fronzolini incaccchiata perche' non le avevo fatto foto, sta qui non mi mollava piu' nel suo russo da ubriaca dicendomi che il prossimo anno doveva andare con non so chi in America. Morale della favola: un rullino fatto fuori tra gente ubriaca e donne sui 50 con atteggiamenti iperprovocanti stile drive in anni 80, sono tornato alla dimora strisciando e ancora adesso non so chi a pagato la mia cena al ristorante prima che io salissi al matrimonio.
Cmq adesso mi trovo in Samarcanda, in un posto paradisiaco che piu' che una citta' e' un gioiello turchese e dorato. Ci sono 40 C, ma io non li sento affatto, sara' per il clima secco, sara' per le fontane ovunque, sara' per il verde, ma si sta bene. Sono insieme ad un tedesco che sta facendo il giro del mondo da 14 mesi, e un californiano che vive a mosca con la sua ragazza russa che mi da ripetizione gratis di russo la sera.. sto divinamente!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Baci abbracci



PS: e' impressionante il numero dei posti di blocco della polizia lungo le strade, fortunatamente mi mimetizzo bene negli autobus pieni di Uzbeki.

s pieni di uzbechi.


Travel tips







  7.   CASH


HASSLING POLICE IN TASHKENT: police in Tashkent are a real hassle, especially in the metro were they’ll not miss a chance to stop you. Most of them are just doing their job, but some are definitely more interested in your money then in the safety of their country. The typical trick is to get your passport and then asking money to give it back. In this case the best is to say it’s in the guesthouse or, as I always did, in the kyrgyz embassy for the visa; obviously carry a photocopy of it with you. If they ask you about your money saying they want check if you have fake dollars, avoid showing them, and if you really have to, count in front of them before giving. Remember that the passport is more important than your money. Anyway the most important thing is to avoid them to take you inside a room. Insist to stay in public places and if it’s necessary make a scene. LP (2004 Central Asia) provides a useful list of tricks antipolice hassling in Uzbekistan. Once I met an italian traveller who was heading to Tashkent with a sign where was written in russian: "IT’S THE THIRD TIME THE POLICE STOP ME IN TEN MINUTES, IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS LET’S GO TO THE EMBASSY", and it showed up every time the police stopped him, funny isn’t? In Uzbekistan if you’ll have an enemy for sure it’ll be the police and not the people!!!

MONEY TRICK: Pay attention to the money trick it happened to me (read story)

COMMON HASSLERS: some people stopped me, saying that they belonged to the police showing some strange card. They wanted to see my passport. NEVER SHOW IT, USE ALWAYS A FOTOCOPY saying the real document is at the embassy for the visa.

KYRGYZ VISA: in Tashkent you are supposed to wait four days for a 30 days Kyrgyz visa paying 40$, But there’s the quick alternative: 80$ five minutes. If you really have no money to waste, you can apply for the visa without leaving the passport then come back and get it after having travelled in the country. Watch out that the embassy is open only in the morning, and not on Saturday.

ENTERING IN AFGHANISTAN: while I was there (summer 04) there was absolutely no way to enter in Afghanistan through the only existing border point in Uzbeskitan: Termiz.

STUDY SOME RUSSIAN: travelling in Central Asia is definitely worthwhile regardless your knowledge of Russian, but surely your entertainment will be proportional to it, hence I suggest a minimum of preparation.

CASH: dollars are more accepted than euros, moreover you can use dollars as cash almost everywhere.