Writing this from Osh, Kyrgyzstan where I can currently hear the call to prayer – a bit surreal as despite having seen many a mosque on this trip, I don’t remember hearing it so far (it’s banned in Uzbekistan in fact..).
I had a few posts drafted but *technical issues* consumed them so today’s posts may be short, picture based and irritable sounding!
I read some fairly positive comments about Tashkent but having seen it now there I think they must have been based on people having very low expectations of the place. I actually expected to like it – I thought its size would give it that big city magnetism (it has a population of over 2 million) but to be honest I was underwhelmed and it seemed like a pale imitation of a capital city. Little remains of its history, an earthquake destroyed much of the city in the mid 1960s and the repugnant Islam Karimov apparently tried to suck out its soul with his post independence blandification . [The kindest thing that can be said about the man is that he seems to have been a pompous, unimaginative dullard – and on the other hand he was a vile, repressive murderer eg the notorious Andijan massacre. ] Sorry…on a lighter note, here are some things I saw in my few days in town:
About half of the National Museum is a very interesting survey through Uzbekistan’s rich history and the other half is a pointless exhibition about the great things Karimov did for the country. LOL. Uurgh.
One major historic sight in the city is the oldest known copy of the Koran. I went to try and see it but couldn’t figure out which building it was actually in (yes I’m an idiot) – it was an interesting wander through some of what remains of the old city though, to get to the Khast Imam square:
Happily it seems that only photogenic old cars are in use in the old town!
Back to modernity(ish), the TV tower is admittedly rather impressive (plus miniature replica at a random theme park):
And I finally ate some plov (previous attempts having been unsuccessful as plov sells out fast…). It was good… but it’s never going to replace my lunchtime staple of a popular UK supermarket’s cheese and tomato pasta pot (sorry, I aspire to being a better person but it’s a hard habit to kick!).
Hmm, think that’s it..I know I would have had a more meaningful experience of Tashkent if I’d had some local contacts, which sadly I didn’t. I’ve never yet Couchsurfed (if that’s even still a thing?) so I probably need to get over myself and do something like that. Maybe I’ll have a more rewarding return visit one day (though I won’t have any return visits at all if anyone in Uzbek officialdom somehow stumbles across this blog!).