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Tashkent - Uzbekistan

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

I returned to Tashkent from Nukus for a couple of days before departing for Moscow. To wrap up my time in Tashkent I rode the Metro for a couple of hours. At 1200 som (about 20 cents) there is no limit to how far or long you can go. It is fast and efficient and the attraction is the stations, photography of which was prohibited on security grounds until just a few months ago.

The stations are well appointed, each with a quite different design. Much of the decor is mid century, Soviet era. Massive light fittings are a collector's dream and each would easily fetch many thousands € in Western Europe and elsewhere.

Hotel Uzbekistan

I also visited several well known relic buildings of the USSR era. The grand-daddy of them all is the huge Hotel Uzbekistan with 315 rooms.

Lenin Library

Much smaller is the Museum of the History of Uzbekistan, formerly the Lenin Museum. A beautiful, graceful building, it nestles nicely against a modern more muscular construct.

The Chorsu market building is an effective Soviet take on Uzbek design - like the hotel, it too is huge. Inside and all around is a sprawling market where you can buy just about anything - strawberries to horse meat and everything in between. The fresh sweet smelling strawberries are unbelievably flavoursome. Mulberry juice is sweet and syrupy. As you pass through the crowd, men with heavily furrowed brows mutter "change money, change money" in a low voice.

There are quite a few very run down apartment blocks but which still show their original attitude. The beautiful behemoth is a 20 story tri-sided wreck which has been stripped out and awaits demolition or refurbishment. Meanwhile it serves to display a Samsung billboard. Other blocks also await entrepreneurs with capital to inject.

Beautiful behemoth

Uzbekistan certainly seems to be moving quickly ahead. Apparently things have changed considerably since the death of Karimov in 2017 - leader since independence in 1991. For a very small example, the hotel now only has to complete 2 government forms for each guest, instead of 8 previously.

I was surprised to learn that Chevrolet have been manufacturing vehicles here for 23 years. The Chevy is far and away the dominant vehicle on the road - invariably small (Corolla lookalike) and white - except for the large Malibu model which is shiny black and usually driven by heavily bejewelled women or men in black suits. Most vehicles, including trucks, run on gas.

There seem to be a lot of young people - and they are cheerful and polite - when you get on the train they spring to their feet to provide a seat - for any older person, tourist or not. Our cohort used to do that too.

The cat and dog populations appear well under control. Those few cats I saw were friendly, healthy and well fed - unlike elsewhere, Turkey for example, where there are uncontrolled numbers of diseased and half starved animals.

Now I am breaking my rule of keeping the length of this blog to within the limits of my own short concentration span. There is a lot else of interest to tell and show but ... tonight I board the train for the 66 hour journey to Moscow. Which should be absolutely fabulous!



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