Across Uzbekistan with MIR

Old Oct 10th, 2017, 04:43 PM
  #81  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,445
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thinking of you, Thursdaysd. Hoping that you get the care and treatment you need and will eventually be able to travel again.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Old Oct 10th, 2017, 05:44 PM
  #82  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,811
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Larry - going back has definitely been on the list of possibilities. But there are certainly better reasons!

TP - thank you. Me too!
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Oct 10th, 2017, 08:16 PM
  #83  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,985
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I’ve finally taken a moment to catch up on your trip, and OMG, you have accomplished the impossible, thursdaysd – you have moved this part of the world onto my wish list! I didn’t see that happening. ;-) Between your informative and evocative words and your stunning photos, I can see the appeal despite the frustrations of your tour. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences!

And of course, I send my best wishes for improved health.
kja is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2017, 07:47 AM
  #84  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 176
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
This is such a meaty trip report. One of the best I've read here or anywhere.
2016adventurer is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2017, 08:41 AM
  #85  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,811
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thank you both! Still have a bit more to come, including Khiva which I loved.

kja - make sure you consider including Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, I really regret missing the scenery there. Of course, I would also like to have included Iran, but right now just getting a visa could be difficult. Again.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2017, 02:59 PM
  #86  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,985
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I'll be sure to note that on my travel wish list, thursdaysd -- thanks!
kja is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2017, 05:35 AM
  #87  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 75
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Hi thursdaysd, nice to run across you on the forum again, and I hope you are recovering from your maladies. I've had frozen shoulder and it sucks - cortisone works wonders, but you can't really have it more than once due to tissue damage, unfortunately.

This is a fantastically detailed and interesting trip report. We've got our post-Christmas trip to Kathmandu and Bhutan sorted, and were kicking around ideas for the April school break, as it will be our last chance to travel together as a family before my daughter heads off to college in the US. Having seen much of SE Asia from here in Singapore these last few years, I surprised myself by suggesting Uzbekistan. I traveled there on business in the early 1990s, and again to Tashkent about five years ago, and I would like to see some of the stunning Islamic architecture again. It's not the easiest place to get to, as you know, but Uzbekistan Airways has a weekly non-stop from Bangkok, so at least we would not have to fly all the way to Istanbul and back-track, or via Seoul.

My problem (aside from the usual travel grumpiness, of course) is that we would be somewhat pressed for time due to my work and the HY air schedule. The one weekly flight in from BKK is on Tuesday, with the return on a Wednesday. Do you think it would be possible to see Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara, traveling by the fast train, in a week? We don't need to do the yurt or other exotica, and Khiva is too far out of the way, but it would be nice to be able to include all three cities if we have time. And having been to Tashkent several times, I think two days there would suffice. But it's been so long since I visited Samarkand that I can't recall how much time we spent there or even how we got there (it was a whirlwind factory tour that included Almaty, Bishkek and Dushanbe, just after the USSR collapsed, with a quick side trip to Samarkand).

So if we could spend a couple of days in each city going by train, and then perhaps fly back to Tashkent from Bukhara, that would be ideal. Would you suggest that, or just limiting to Tashkent and Samarkand over seven days? Is the train fairly reliable? And finally, do you think we could do this mostly independently, such as hiring local guides in each city rather than being part of an organized tour? My Russian is pretty rusty, but probably enough to get around the cities. Thanks.
ClarkB is offline  
Old Nov 4th, 2017, 06:57 AM
  #88  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,811
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks Clark! Glad you have found my TR useful, even though it's still incomplete. Alas, the methotrexate I'm taking isn't working (hopefully it will in a couple of weeks...) and I am having more bad days than good. I have at least four more posts to write, including one on Khiva, which I loved. However, I quite see that you won't have time for it on this trip.

I would give time to Samarkand and Bukhara in preference to Tashkent. In fact, I would be tempted to fly straight on to Bukhara on arrival, except for the fact that the international and domestic terminals are not connected and there is no telling how long it will take to get out of the zoo in the international terminal. The four hours I see on skyscanner should be long enough but it would be a very tiring day. Probably better to overnight in Tashkent and take the 8:00 am train out the next morning. For train times and info see:

https://www.seat61.com/Uzbekistan.htm

I was on the 8:00 am train, in business class, but it is Spanish Talgo rolling stock and economy should be fine. Have no good info on reliability, though. Mine was on time.

Not sure how popular Russian is in Uz these days - one blog I read the author was learning Turkish for Central Asia instead, but the older generations no doubt speak it.

Although I went with a tour group I am sure you could DIY, although you might want someone to buy the train tickets. If you can lay hands on an Odyssey or Bradt guidebook for Uz you probably don't need a guide. When I was there the guide was useful for changing money on the black market, but I seem to remember reading recently that under the new president that may no longer be necessary. Maybe a guide for the first day in Bukhara to change money, get the lay of the land and point out the best shops if you want to shop? Definitely recommend my hotel in Bukhara - the Amelia.

Have fun in the Himalayas!
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Nov 5th, 2017, 05:05 AM
  #89  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 75
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks! Good advice - I think we can cut Tashkent down to one full day, and I noticed that Adventura advertises a 4-day run through Samarkand and Bukhara (flying first to Bukhara, then road/rail to Samarkand and back to Tashkent) that would fit our 8-day flight schedule well.

Uzbekistan Airways' website isn't the most clear, but fortunately they have a sales office here in Singapore, so I can make sure they are actually flying the days they say they are.

Thanks again for all of the insight and advice.
ClarkB is offline  
Old Nov 5th, 2017, 06:55 AM
  #90  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,811
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Can't find a link in English for that company.

I was thinking of:

Tuesday arrive Tashkent
Wednesday - 08:00 - 10:08 train to Samarkand
Thursday - Samarkand
Friday - Samarkand
Saturday - 10:08 - 11:47 train to Bukhara
Sunday - Bukhara
Monday - Bukhara
Tuesday - fly to Tashkent
Wednesday - fly home

But if you want a day in Tashkent I would drop one from Bukhara - nicer town than Samarkand, but more to see in Samarkand.

I bought my Uzbekistan Airlines ticket through MIR. Flight was fine, as was the domestic flight Nukus - Tashkent.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2019, 08:25 AM
  #91  
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I noticed that more and more people prefer solo traveling to group tours to Uzbekistan. Thank you for useful article! No doubt I'd like to visit Uzbekistan!
gregory312 is offline  
Old May 16th, 2020, 02:03 PM
  #92  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,811
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
It's hard for me to credit how long it's been since I started writing about this trip, and abandoned it short of Khiva. After a year split between time on the couch with a heating pad, and visits to the offices of assorted medical practitioners, I had a diagnosis, and, subsequently, a treatment. (Not, alas, a cure.) However, I still had less energy than before, and more interest in possible future, rather than past, travels. Now that Covid-19 has put future travels even further off, I thought I might finish at least the Uzbekistan leg of this trip.

September 20-22, 2016: Captivated by Khiva

As I believe I wrote earlier in this report, I chose Uzbekistan for my first (and now maybe only) foray into Central Asia principally for the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, and when I looked for a small group tour my non-negotiable requirements were the Ferghana Valley, at least three nights in both Samarkand and Bukhara, and time in Khiva. While the Ferghana Valley did not fully repay the night in the desert and our upcoming visit to Nukus, Samarkand and Bukhara had been ample recompense, and so was Khiva.

Samarkand and Bukhara are now cities with sights, only Khiva retains the atmosphere all three once shared: an oasis in the desert, a haven of safety and succour for the caravanners at the end of a hazardous journey on the Silk Road. Our journey had been in no way a mirror of theirs, but Khiva, drowsing behind its formidable walls, was a no less welcome sight. The drive from Bukhara through the Kyzyl Kum desert had been long and boring, and the packed lunch unsatisfying. We spent two nights in an undistinguished tourist hotel outside the walls, with no in-room wifi and biting insects in the common areas. The daytime temperatures were, once again, in the 90s. Despite this, Khiva enchanted me, especially as the evening light painted the walls and minarets in shades of gold.

While the Khievak Well, the reason for the town's existence, is said to have been discovered by Noah's son Shem, and it was always a stop on the trade route, it did not become politically significant until the end of the 1500s. For the next three hundred years it was the center of a slave trade and of tribal rivalries. Russia objected to the slave trade (in Russians), and coveted the city as a gateway to British India, but it took three expensive attempts before the city fell in 1873. It survived the tsarist troops, the fall of the khanate and the later transition to Soviet rule to become, in 1967, a museum city. Amazingly, parts of the encircling walls are said to date from the fifth century, although the major sections were built in the 1680s.

As soon as we had checked into the hotel the first evening, we walked up the street and through the gates into the old town, where we almost immediately encountered woodworkers, one of them a young boy. But while there were certainly goods for sale to tourists, their vendors were not pushy, and after all, this had always been a trading town. The next morning a guide took us round the major buildings, the mosques and madrassas and the Tash-Hauli Palace, and I admired the tile work and then the forest of wooden pillars in the atmospheric Dzhuna Mosque, but I abandoned to guide after lunch as it got hotter and cooled off back in the hotel. Of course I went back later on, and was actually happier wandering the streets on my own, discovering new angles on the main buildings, and quiet residential streets in odd corners. It was a great place to get lost, and of course it would be hard to stay lost, enclosed by walls and with minarets as landmarks.





thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2020, 09:09 AM
  #93  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,811
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
September 22-23: To Tashkent via Nukus

The next morning, the start of our last full day in Uzbekistan, we left at 8:30 for Nukus, still further west across still more desert. Back in the late '90s, when I first became interested in visiting Central Asia, Nukus was not on most itineraries, except perhaps as a gateway to the shrinking Aral Sea. However, in 2002 the Savitsky Museum opened in a new building, and Nukus now appears on the itineraries of at least some tour groups. Igor Savitsky was an artist who came to the Karakalpakstan region in the '50s and stayed. In addition to collecting local artifacts, he brought many of the paintings banned by Moscow as insufficiently "Soviet realist" to this isolated outpost. The collection is considered remarkable by those who appreciate modern art, but unfortunately I am not one of them. It is not that I haven't tried. I have taken two "history and appreciation of art" type courses, one of them the lecture series for aspiring docents at my local Art Museum, but I still fail to appreciate much after the Impressionists. I find the surrealists entertaining, and an occasional piece arresting, but I no longer choose to visit museums of modern art. Indeed, I have also OD'ed on Madonnas, and on St. Stephen and his arrows, and unless an art museum holds some of the artists I do admire (Vermeer, Rembrandt, El Greco, Da Vinci...) I head for the local decorative arts museum instead. My rainy day retreat in London is the V&A, not the National Gallery.

So, I did not have high hopes when, after a lunch accompanied by throat singers and a dancer, we arrived at the museum. I do have to say that the guide was very good, and that I liked Savitsky's early paintings, but after a while I left the enthusiasts to it and went down a floor to visit some badly lit costumes and, much to my surprise, a piece of the Parthenon. (At least, that's what the label said.) Eventually we headed to the local airport for the flight back to Tashkent. Here we had a surprise, as the flight had been changed to make use of Uzbekistan Airline's latest acquisition, a Dreamliner. Although it was probably destined for flights from distant capitals, meanwhile it carried us in considerable comfort the 500 miles to Tashkent. The seats in economy were in a 3-3-3 configuration, but there was plenty of leg room.

After landing at the international airport (presumably for a longer runway?), we were bused to the domestic terminal, which was a lot calmer and less crowded. We were then driven directly to our farewell dinner, even though the restaurant was very close to our hotel (the Shodlik aka Shoddy Palace, again). After we finally arrived at the hotel I discovered that the AC in my room wasn't working, and it took some back and forth on the phone to get my room changed. The shower and the bed were definitely welcome.

Four of the group left for home early the next morning, but Abdu took the remaining seven to the Applied Arts Museum, which I had been upset to miss when it had been closed for Eid. I enjoyed it so much that I went round twice. Four of us had arrived by metro and three by taxi, and the same four went on to Bon Patisserie for lunch. It was an interesting walk, across wide squares and down leafy streets, during which we passed a long line of used book stalls - I was interested to see the Harry Potter books in Russian (well, in the Cyrillic alphabet.) At lunch I made the mistake of ordering a chicken and avocado salad, which would not agree with me. Really, I know better!

After dinner at the hotel someone from MIR drove me back to the airport. I was flying Aviana to Seoul in business class, but while that got me shorter check in lines it didn't help with the scrum at the entrance. Still, leaving Uzbekistan wasn't as fraught as arriving, and there was a proper line at passport control. While Aviana's business class wasn't in the same league as Qantas or Cathay Pacific, the meal, wine, slippers, ear plugs, cushion and blanket were all very welcome, and I did get some sleep.

thursdaysd is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Kathie
Asia
26
Dec 8th, 2010 11:59 AM
costaricalover
Mexico & Central America
17
Aug 21st, 2010 04:16 PM
Kathie
Asia
13
Nov 27th, 2005 05:48 PM
rhkkmk
Asia
26
Jun 26th, 2005 10:20 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO