After I’d dealt with my essential survival needs (what do you mean a latte isn’t an ‘essential survival need’?! Yes, punch me now – I should have stayed home, or gone on a cruise…) I was able to appreciate the quirks of Nukus a little more and found it kind of compelling. (My usual narrative arc it seems).
Here’s a few somewhat random (not necessarily Nukus specific) observations:
The main form of transport in urban areas are the locally produced Damas – tiny rebadged Daewoos ( might make interesting micro camper conversion!). They’re cheap and go everywhere- though as an idiot tourist you may not be able to get the right one that easily!
There’s virtually no petrol for reasons that I don’t understand so most vehicles run on gas (I don’t know technical details, I lost patience with the uzberweb during my googling!). This means all the passengers have to get out of taxis at fuel stops, which rather confused me the first time when I thought we’d just been abandoned half way to our destination. Larger buses carry gas canisters on their roofs.
The Uzbek developers seem to like large ugly buildings, like the soviets, but instead of modernist classics [have a look at this beautiful book, or borrow it from me! ], they build seriously fugly po-mo sometimes with central Asian decorative motifs [possibly some of them aren’t new, but reclad soviet blocks?] and they do like random colonnades:
As far as I can tell Uzbek train stations are ridiculously grandiose buildings in gated compounds (tying in with the above). You can’t go in without a ticket (buy your ticket from a separate building outside the station) so unlike in Russia and Kazakhstan, stations here are not a hive of activity full of useful stuff like shops and cafés and bankomats. This one had a reception room for visiting state delegations. Helpful!
And Bukhara [where I am now..]
Uzb has de-cyrillised but they still use alot of Russian words (eg vokzal) and older signs are still in Cyrillic.
Roads and pavements are in various states of (de) construction:
[photo when I can find it]
By the looks of things there was quite a spate of starting to build stuff a few years ago, but then maybe the money trickled out…
However Nukus had its moments:
Inside the bazaar everything seemed rather restrained and lacking the usual chaos:
Soviet era theatre:
Ubiquitous central Asian flower beds
What goes on in this building?
The now-closed Tashkent hotel looked ok!
Nukus’ main claim fame is this:
Not the building! But inside is the Savitsky Art Gallery, curiously intermingled with the Karakalpak state museum (actually maybe not so curious as the same man collected both the art and historical artefacts) . The vast collection of repressed avant-garde soviet art is due to Igor Savitsky; additionally there was some interesting Uzbek art, and I also realised that the region has various ancient desert fortresses of which, I’m ashamed to admit, I’d been completely oblivious. In the picture below, only the building on the left is actually in use – the rest are apparently new wings intended to display the rest of the art (only a fraction is currently displayed). They’re not open yet though – I don’t know the circumstances but there are so many ridiculous oversized buildings in Nukus that it seems criminal that space for all the works could not be found previously! [Actually may be due the fact that the local authorities apparently don’t like all the attention the gallery brings to Karakalpakstan! Which would be about right..]