Somehow, I got the chance to live and travel in Uzbekistan in 2012. That was one of the most powerful and tough experience I had been given to live so far.
Till today, I still think that to talk about Uzbekistan is difficult. It’s about finding those very first words and images to express what Central Asia is. Mysterious, offset, frightening and fascinating at the same time. An adventure in those lands is first and foremost a story of poetry and love. Love for a land that doesn’t easily give itself to the first traveler. You can only understand how to travel in Uzbekistan if you can open your eyes! It is the poetry of a land dominated throughout History by several civilizations. Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Mongols, Russians… Then occupied by various ethnic groups, Uzbeks, Russians, Tajiks, Kazakhs, Tatars, Karakalpaks, Korean, Kyrgyz, Turks. Uzbekistan is also a main part of the famous Silk Road.
Nowadays, Uzbekistan remains a young republic with new borders, building a national identity on aslightly distorted history. A land denying its ethnic divisions, facing a difficult political and economic progress.
In Uzbekistan, I will remember the smiles, the kind hands and the sun.
Story of a never ending travel in Uzbekistan
I’m the kind of person who buys a guidebook for the sole purpose of boasting. A little. Somehow, it feels like a moment of glory in the bookshop. I feel oh so adventurous buying such an exotic country’s guidebook. That moment, alas, doesn’t last. And I have to pay by credit card. With a student discount.
A journey always begins before departure. Planning, scheduling, researching about the country, the formalities. All these small tasks take away the mundane and gray of a daily boring life.
And my newly bought guidebook is lying on the table. First step of a travel that has yet started. A guidebook that I’ll read only halfway through the trip, taking notes on its glossy pages, tearing pages for my convenience.
If the adventurer returns deeply changed, even transformed from within by his journey, the guidebook, however, shows the terrible wounds of the sacrificed companion. My guidebook “Petit Futé” on Uzbekistan will not recover from my stay in the largest country of Central Asia.
Uzbekistan is this distant land, surrounded by “stans” countries, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan…
Disregarded by the news, this ex – Soviet republic became independent with the fall of the Soviet Union. The country is at a crossroad, torn between a return to traditions (banned by the communists in 1920), a dictatorship with nothing to envy to the Soviet regime, the emergence of globalization and the access to new technologies. And even before that, access to clean water, electricity and food.
It’s an important part of the Silk Road. Caravans, carrying riches were crossing miles from East to West, making the fortunes of cities that were on their paths.
This is the land of Samarkand, the worldwide known monuments of Bukhara, the ancient city of Khiva, a real open air museum – under the protection of UNESCO – the citadels of the desert, the dried sea of Aral.
Uzbekistan is also a country where traditions are festives, full of dances and colors, as evidenced by the traditional costumes, pashminas, and even modern fashion that strikes with flashy colors, silky, mixed with joy and thousand sequins.
In Uzbekistan, the bazaar is still common place where one goes shopping, where one does groceries between two cups of tea, snacking on sunflower seeds.
Uzbeks have a kind heart and a warm smile. Tough in business, they are proven to be generous but not fools. Sexism is still a problem, between a harmless gallantry and the sad condition of arranged weddings at a very young age. Living conditions are still precarious and there are so many areas needed improvements.
In short, to travel in Uzbekistan isn’t a common leisure plan. And even a less common place where you stay a few months. You don’t expect to have one day to say, “I’m going to Uzbekistan.” In the end, this trip I feared to be too long, was finally too short. This series of article don’t mean to be a specific guide of Uzbekistan nor to have the objectivity required for the accurate description of a country and its people. These pages are a tribute to Uzbekistan, its people and its culture.