Taskent and Tajikistan
We visited just one sigh, Penjikent, an ancient city which flourished between the 5th and 8th centuries. We had to use all of our imagination to "see" the houses and streets the guide talked about among the ruins, but at least the nearby hills provided with plenty of photo opportunities. Tajikistan is noticably poorer than its Uzbeg neighbour. Our guide, a university lecturer, makes only 80 USD a month and both the villages and their inhabitants were in a quite poor shape. It took us 1.5 hours to cross the border back to Uzbegistan, although there were no other passangers, other than our small group. My group-mates from the US were complaining a lot about the slow paperwork and all the administration we had to go through. I am quite patient when I travel, one just has to accept that things can go slow - so to give a lesson, I explained them the procedure to obtain a US visa in Hungary. There were no more complaints about the Tadjik system.
We then moved on to Tashkent, the Uzbeg capital, where we stay in a really nice hotel. We had 18 different pastries at breakfast in addition to the vast selection of fruit, cheese, cereals and so on, accompanyied with live harp music. Wow.
Yesterday our local guide took us around the capital. It is quite different from the Silk Road cities we saw so far. Until now, we only saw women wearing long dresses, but here they walk around in pants, mini-skirts, even in jeans. There are old Russian Lada and Moskvich cars, but also Daewoos and BMWs. You can get hamburger and pizza in fast food restaurants and all sorts of imported chocolates in the supermarkets.
We were scheduled to leave for Kyrgizstan today, but had not enough seats on the plane, so have to stay an extra day here. The group went onto a quickly organized excursion to the nearby hills, but I took a day off from the group to walk around a bit. On one hand, I am sick of sitting on the bus so much, need some fresh air, on the other hand, it is nice to be on my own, I am not used to having such a full program. It is nice just to wonder around the city without any rush and take plenty of pictures of the great avenues, Soviet-style appartment blocks and countless Timur statues.
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