Uzbekistan reminds us Belarus of the noughties. Previous President had been reigning for 25 years and died of old age last year. His successor is increasing in GDP by closing the state borders.
1$ = 4000 sum according to official currency exchange rate, on the black market — 8000-8200 sum.
Where you can exchange money:
— with changers (when a woman wrapped from toe to head is rushing to you and yelling: “Money! Money! Touristo!” and waving with packs of money. The futher from the border is the cheeper);
— with shops — but you have to buy here something;
— with hostels (we changed dollars at the rate 8200).
Track drivers are coming to the gas station with a plastig bag full with money. Ladies are using А4 format wallets.
Tourists are allowed to stay in each town no longer than 3 days, otherway registration is required. You can make it in local police office (it’s a muddy couple-of-days-long bureaucratic procedure) or in hostels.
We made it in Samarkand, in «Sim Sim» hostel. There were not vacancies, so for 7$ we got: permission to put our tent in alcove near the trestle-bad, our registration, breakfast, bathroom, wi-fi. We tried to burgain, but unsuccessfully.
Vova rated the hostel with 2 stars on Booking and in Local Guides, and in the evening the head of the hostel Jakub for some reason came to chat with us with a bottle of wine.
A bus ticket price is 1000-1500 sum, a shuttle-bus ticket price — about 1500 sum. Many of locals choose taxi, and besides a taxi driver is picking up about 5-6 passengers — somebodies’ children and bags are placed on your knees while driving.
Hungry taxi drivers on railway stations and near airports were irritating us so much, touching us, taking our hands and forcing us to answer them. Our famous Belarusian tolerance dried up: we were shaking our heads and snapped from time to time.
Also almost all the car owners are taxing: just picking up some people on the way (so car is completely full), and it costs more than shuttle-bus ride. At least for foreigners.
Drivers stop as usual to make some money. But after our phrase “Without money” they laugh uncrediously.
“What do you mean – without money? Ok, if I will bring you there, how are you gonna move further?” – “The same way”. – “You could not get anywhere!” – “But somehow we got here by hitchhiking”.
Then the eyes of the driver are getting frozen, and he is starting to ride away without saying a word, or finally he is picking us up, not fully believing in being involved in such a nonsense.
All in all, hitchhiking in Uzbekistan is hard, but possible.
Internet is not widespread here, it is expensive and bad. It is a great luck to find a cafe with wi-fi even in a big city. Often they charge for internet-connection (5000 sum).
In Tashkent and Samarkand there are many internet-cafes and CD-shops.
Standard of living
Average salary is 100-150$ (there are no incoming guest workers, only outcoming ones). But foodstuffs are cheaper than ours.
Almost all the older Uzbeks have GOLDEN TEETH. Do you remember the tradition of buying gold in unstable USSR times? We’ve seen a lot of “Purchase of gold” shops in Samarkand.
Prices of Uzbekistan are lower than wherever we’ve been (including Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan). The cost of 1 bread is 1000-2000 sum. In shops you’d better check the monitor with your purchase list: in a supermarket a cashier occasionally (?) punched through the counter an extra halva (sweetness from sunflower seeds) by price 12000 sum. At the bazaar we were checking prices of the same bread: different sellers told us prices from 1000 up to 5000 sum.
Probably the locals think that our giant backpacks are filled with money only.
Uzbekistan is a muslim country, so you can buy alcohol only in specialised shops.
Very rare people go to travel abroad. Since new presidental term started the borders are closed. Those who moved to Russia for work can never come back. It is possible to return back from Turkey, but after thorough inspection. Also low salaries and family duties don’t let Uzbeks have a vacation: a 40 years old Uzbeks normally has 4-6 kids and 10-13 brothers and sisters. The average number of guests at the wedding is 1000. We told Uzbeks: «For us 100-person wedding is a big one». — «100 person? That’s a birthday party!»
Uzbeks need children cause somebody should take care of them in their old age. Family is the most important thing.
@kkurwa wrote in instagram about Uzbek national trait (besides, our Instagram is @edzem.by):
By the way, here are some Crimea Tatars, too: while USSR they were repressed and exiled in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan is a muslim country. Patriarchate. Wedding in church is obligatory (so our marriage was immediately depreciated). Polygamy is allowed, a man can have up to 8 wifes. But if a wife comes to police and complains on her husband about taking no care of her, he will get a fine. Women don’t drink alcohol and don’t smoke (with the exception of prostitutes).
That’s how they look: dress + pens + leggings + shalow (not always).
The state border is closed for tourists from 8 P.M. till 8 A.M. And for Uzbeks since new President inauguration it is closed everytime: only if, for example, in Kyrgyzstan some of Uzbek’s relatives dies, they send a wire to Uzbekistan, and they permit departure. But departure for wedding is not allowed.
Furthermore in Uzbekistan almost all the toilets are for fee, including toilets on gas stations (about 500 sum) and sometimes in cafe you are sitting in (1000 sum).
Buy the way, in western part of the country there are no forests. Steppe, sand.
Around 8 P.M. we were trying to get out of this country. Driver Alazbek from Akhunbabayev city (yeah, we began to write down the names when dating) immediately agreed to take us for free, but told us, that we were late for the border, and invited us to his home to spend the night. For the first time since Georgia, we were so lucky. He fed us with dinner – his submissive daughter served us and didn’t dare to eat with us. Unfortunately, we were shy to take pictures, but the dinner was great: tea, juices, bread, shurpa (local soup), watermelons, melons, sausages, cheese, sweets. In the morning we got up, had breakfast, then we were taken to the border.
Do you know the «Tashkent!» proverb? Thanks God, the 50-55-degree heat was over by our arrival. We were dying because of 40-degree heat. One truck driver told us about his business trip to Tashkent: they were sleeping while daytime and working at nights. The air is dry, so that in winter -15 degrees are felt hard, too.
The Alazbek’s anecdote
An Uzbek joins Russian army, and a Russian is asking him:
— Well, do we have cold winter?
— In Uzbekistan in winter when a cat jumps from one roof to another, it doesn’t reach its destination – it is frozen on the halfway. When our musician is playing, you can’t hear his music: his notes freeze and fall to the ground side by side.
— Got it, got it, I won’t go to Uzbekistan!
Could we ever come back to Uzbekistan? We will see.