From the golden road to Samarkand, to the dried up Aral Sea with its rusting fishing boats stranded in the winds of time, from the white tipped mountains of the Tian Shan (aka Tien Shan) to the Fergana valley, Uzbekistan has it all.

The Persians, the Greeks, and the Russians all dropped by and left their mark. This is the country that put the silk into the Silk Road. It is the land beyond the Oxus. Here it was that Tamerlane built his magnificent capital of Samarkand.

Uzbekistan is a country that has captured the western imagination more than any other country in the world, and if that isn’t reason enough to want to visit it, than perhaps the following might coax you:

Go to golden Samarkand with its magnificent Islamic ruins, culminating in the Registan, Tamerlane’s masterpiece. Buy a carpet in Bukhara’s bazaar, while strolling around its winding alleys and contemplating the nature of Islam at one of its many historical madrassa’s and mosques. Visit the once feared silk-road oasis of Khiva, frozen in time by keen Soviet preservationists. Ponder the folly of human tinkering with nature as you stand by the dry shores of the former Aral Sea in Moynaq. Ski or hike in the Tian Shan mountains outside Tashkent. Discover everything you ever wanted to know about silk in the Fergana Valley.

Uzbekistan is ruled by an old style dictator who is a product of its Soviet past. While Uzbek, belonging to the Turkic language group, is the official language, Russian is widely spoken and a significant minority of Russians still lives in the country.

Most Uzbeks are secular Muslims, but many do consume vodka and are not strict on such Islamic prohibitions. If you want an easy introduction into Islam, Uzbekistan might be what you are looking for.

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