Uzbekistan is slightly off the beaten track on the tourism circuit. When I tell people I visited Uzbekistan, their first question is, “why would you go there?” To the unsuspecting layman, Uzbekistan is just a country in that part of the world, but there is so much more depth to it. I vaguely knew about the amazing culture, food, and history before my visit, but I had no concrete examples. I wanted to travel there because I was interested in visiting the stops on the Silk Road and that was my answer when people enquired as to why I was going. So you want to visit Uzbekistan? Or maybe you don’t and I can change your mind. Here are a few things to know:
The food is badass. I mean look at this feast. And that slop! Full disclosure: I didn’t try the contents of that vat, but we had portions from other vats. Including horse, which was my favorite on that table (bottom right).
To hail a taxi you just put your arm up like a regular New Yorker; however, literally any car that feels like driving will pull over. You will fit comfortably…if you are by yourself.
You will be a millionaire! Yay! Finally! Uzbekistan is known for their black market currency rates which is typically worth at least twice the bank rate. And while it isn’t technically advised to buy money on the black market due to it technically being illegal, I recommend it to people who like free money. I also recommend a wheel barrow or a duffel bag to carry your cash. The 5000 som bill is the largest denomination found in Uzbekistan, which is worth less than 1 USD as of September 2016.
The bazaars are bizarre, but cool and extremely organized. All of the fresh produce and meats you could ever dream of.
The beer is served with a straw. We will allow this to remain one of life’s little mysteries. Let’s also not jump to conclusions and say all beers in Uzbekistan come with straws (however, if you are at the Marilyn Monroe Karaoke bar….)
The culture, buildings, landscape, people, everything. The country is beautiful.
On a scale from 1 to obvious, it is pretty damn obvious that Uzbekistan was previously part of the Soviet Union based solely on looking at the more modern buildings.
Uzbekistan is hot. It is also fairly conservative meaning ladies should show respect by covering their shoulders and legs. I decided to throw my sense of style to the wind and buy a big, cheap potato sack of a dress to stay cool.
I have never experienced such warm, friendly, and generous people. I was approached by children who wanted conversation and photos, I was invited to afternoon tea at the home of a local family, and I attended a local wedding.
There is a lot to love about this country. So you want to visit Uzbekistan now? My advice to you? GO!