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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: 41.3052, 69.269
Uzbekistan feels different, even before you've crossed the border. The customs people get you to fill in a double-sided customs declaration (in duplicate) listing the amount ofn every currency you are carrying and every item of value (camera, computer, phone etc). They looked up my medicines on the computer and insisted on listing them - how they will cope with my having usd them I don't know. They x-ray everything, they question every book, apparently if it has anything to do with the history of Uzbekistan it gets confiscated, but as only 1 of them speaks any English and none of them seem to read it you could tell them they were fairy stories and they would be none the wiser.
Then in the 400 km drive from the border to Tashkent we had to produce our passports on 5 occassions (not just us - all cars were stopped at toll-booth type things and everyone had to produce ID. - one of the guys in the share taxi with me (the Japanese or the Taiwanese) had a cold - and he's given it to me!
In Tashkent at the entrance to Metro stations policemen are posted who may stop you (with
a smile and a salute) and ask to see your passport or check your bag. Again - no English. I just tell them I only speak English and don't understand them and keep walking, haven't been shot or arrested yet. Every Metro platform has a policeman or two plus Metro attendants. There is clearly no unemployment here - the are all working as policemen!
But the roads are better - wider, smoother, not full of craters. The roads aren't so crowded, and all the cars are Daewoos - a Korean company that went bust and then Chevrolet stepped in and acquired them. So the later models are Chevrolets. They build them here. Cheap, and not very cheerful.
And in the State History Musem all the lights were on, and there was quite a lot of English labelling except for the top floor which was all about the wonders of Uzbekistan following independence. With lots of pictures of the President.
And the Metro is good, fast, not crowded, and only 20p a ride. Thats 1000 som, paying for stuff involves standing there for ages counting out piles of 1000 som notes, and you find yourself arguing the toss about whether a taxi ride should
be 3000 or 4000, then realise you are arguing about 20p!
So I saw another market (very well organised), mosques and madrassas, a 7th century Koran (and lots of others not quite so old) and the Museum of History and the ex=Romanov palace and piles og very ugly new buildings. See the pics.
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