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Uzbekistan: A Lesson in Silk Road Hospitality

Uzbekistan: A Lesson in Silk Road Hospitality

May 8th, 2013, 07:44 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,818
I was hoping to see the rest of the report...hope the Jahlie's are OK...I'll keep an eye for ther posts on other subjects.
tower is offline  
May 12th, 2013, 02:32 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,523
jahlie's post of Nov 1st upthread seems to have been his/her last on fodors so far as I can see.

They were home from their trip as s/he mentions having been home for a week when s/he made that post.

as said above, we hope that s/he is well.
annhig is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 10:28 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 492
OH DEAR, yes I'm fine and so very sorry to cause alarm. Sometimes I get caught up in everything happening around me...plus I've been learning a new skill - bead weaving, which is taking up a lot of time. I'm almost as addicted to that as to travel.

So, where was I? Tashkent for the night and onward to the Ferghana Valley. Back to the Tashkent Palace where we stashed our luggage and took a walk in the neighborhood. We stumbled across an interesting street flea market. Guys selling old Soviet medals, coins, etc. Some artwork...nothing we wanted to buy but my husband did purchase an old coin because he'd been talking to the seller for such a long time. We wandered over to Yolki-Palki Russian restaurant (I'd decided by that time to pretty much stick to Russian food) for an early dinner and to get out of the rain. Decent food - very good Borsch, Stroganoff and beer. Excellent service with Russian pop music videos playing on a screen above the bar - very amusing!

Early the next day we left with our car, driver and guide for the Ferghana Valley. The skies were bright and sunny but the temps were a bit on the cool side. The drive was beautiful and when we stopped at the top of the pass for a photo shoot, I was shocked by the ferocity of the wind and how cold it was! We stopped in Kokand (by this time the whole area was under a fierce wind-dust storm) at the Khan's Palace. Unfortunately the Palace is only a small remnant of its former self, but with the help of our guide and the guides in the Palace, we discovered a lot about the history of the area. Unfortunately the displays are dark and not too extensive, but it's certainly worth a trip. As per usual at Uzbek monuments, a bridal party was at the entrance taking photos, even though it was freezing, blustery day! Lovely really.

Then on to Ferghana and our hotel the Asia Ferghana Hotel. Because of a soccer match, the hotel was crowded with athletes checking in but our guide ushered us through the madness, so all was well. Our extremely large room at the Asia Ferghana was in an annex with a separate common area that had free wifi (small but doable) and elevator that never seemed to work. The room was huge and beds hard as rocks. I called housekeeping for padding of some sort, which was attended to immediately. The housekeeper however refused a tip! We were shocked but as hard as we tried, she wouldn't budge! Service at the hotel was always polite and pleasant and access to an onsite restaurant, with edible food (not delicious, but OK by Uzbek standards) was appreciated.

I have to mention that our guide, was fantastic. In fact, he left the next morning to meet a group of American ladies at the Kyrgyz border. That group stayed at our hotel while in Ferghana and it was fun swapping stories and seeing our guide again. I can't find his name, but will add it to this report if I do...he was informative and fun.

Another nice aspect of the Asia Ferghana is that it's within walking distance of the town, something we always look for. We discovered a very good restaurant kitty-corner from the Taj Mahal restaurant, that served great pizzas, salads, and Russian food. I don't remember the name, but you can't miss it because it's the only one there. The town has large tree lined boulevards and expansive parks (a common thing in UZ). The people, again, were so friendly. I don't know how many times we were approached by people just wanting to talk, practice English or satisfy their curiosity. I even made an email friend and we still keep in touch.

During our three days in the Ferghana Valley we visited Rustam Usmanov's Ceramics Factory, which I can't say enough about. The entire process of pottery making was explained in detail and at no time were we pressured to buy something! We did however because it was all just too beautiful.

We visited the Yodgorlik Silk making factory, which was mildly interesting but we didn't buy any scarves there. The best scarves - not the cheapest, but the prettiest I saw - were in a shop inside the Said Akhmad Khodja Madrassah. I bought a few there because the colors and patterns were outstanding. We walked the Kokand Bazaar (of course!) and took an excursion to Kuya (Quya) which has a dilapidated Buddhist archaeological site. The site itself wasn't much but the town was a fantastic find. We walked the streets, looking in shops, talking to folks on the street, posed in a wedding photo (they insisted!) and didn't see one other foreign tourist anywhere. Kuya was one of our favorite experiences. Then the next day, on our way out of the Ferghana Valley, we stopped at the VAST Kumtepa Bazaar. Wow! what a show.

Overall my impression of the Ferghana Valley was very positive. Agriculture everywhere, the best roads we experienced in the country by far and the people friendly. It was more conservative - women dressed more modestly than in the rest of UZ and people talked about their religion a bit more.

Then back to the Tashkent Palace for our last night in UZ. The drive was uneventful and we were ready to get home. I was a bit disappointed because I hadn't found the one thing I hoped to find in UZ - a beautiful Suzzani bedspread. Well, you'll never guess what the hotel was hosting that day! A arts and crafts fair where I found a beautiful Suzzani bedspread. The most beautiful one I'd seen during my entire trip.

Our flight on UZ Air to Istanbul was uneventful but pleasant, as was the trip home. I truly can't wait to return to Central Asia, next time to Kyrgyzstan and crossing the border to Kashgar - it's a fascinating part of the world.
jahlie is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 10:33 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 492
We traveled during the shoulder season, so costs were kept down. Without air, the land portion of our trip was about $2600. We kept costs down by not hiring a guide everywhere and not traveling during peak season. We opted out of most of the "included tours", which we'd rather do on our own or not at all.
jahlie is offline  
May 22nd, 2013, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,772
Thanks very much for coming back!
thursdaysd is offline  
May 24th, 2013, 06:09 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,314
Thanks for coming back and finishing your report. Please add guide names when you find them.
josele is offline  
May 24th, 2013, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 6,818
Ditto...you certainly "did" Uzbekistan very well, Jahlie.
tower is offline  

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