I'm interested in Tashkent and Samarkand, particularly.
lots of rocks
I don't know about Tashkent, but Samarkand was totally rebuilt "ancient-style" under the Soviets. You might as well go to Disneyland -- the food will definitely be better.
No, but I've cruised the Hershey Highway.
Up for a great topic.
If you want to see pretty tiles, go to Puebla, Mexico. Much safer.
Is it true that the Kurds were allowed to do some serious ethnic cleansing when the USA ruled Iraq? Amounting to genocide?
I was in Tashkent and Samarkand, but it was in 1983, when they were still Soviet.
From what I see online, the mosques, mausoleums and madrassahs of Samarkand have been greatly restored since I was there. They used to have laser light shows at Registan Square. I don't know if they still do. The locals weren't too thrilled with how the soviets treating their monuments. There were wicked thunderstorms every night, so we didn't get to see the light show.
Tashkent was a bore. It was almost totally destroyed in 1968 by an earthquake and was a soviet-looking city. I'm sure they've taken down the huge posters of Karl Marx, Lenin and Engels from the hotels, but it has little charm anyway. At night,as I tried to sleep, I felt little earthquake tremors. There were a few madrassahs in TKT and a musuum where we went to look at surprisingly ugly rugs. Perhaps the ugliness was soviet-inspired.
Bukhara was another city we visited. It used to be the summer home for shahs and emirs during the Persian empire. I became ill and was unable to visit the emir's summer palace. I heard it was good, people weren't bored by it. (The soviets could really bore you) I did visit the bazaar, which was your basic Central Asian Soviet bazaar. Live chickens, rice, vegetables and loads of cognac were for sale. Today, I don't know if the cognac is still there.
Women need to watch how they dress. Drinking alcohol, smoking and wearing toenail polish were frowned upon. The men liked the girls in tight jeans, though. But no shorts. Long pants and dresses. It's hot there, so flowing summery dresses would be fine, but I don't know about bare arms and would not go for cleavage. Anything men wear is fine, because men can do anything. But you'll look a little foolish in shorts.
I found the mausoleums, madrassahs, etc of Bukhara to be a little boring after they'd spent so much time walking us through Registan in Samarkand. You've seen three or four mosque-museums, you've seen them all.
Uzbekistan is very heavy on Uleg Beg, a famed Turkic poet/atronomer. The Soviets elevated Uleg Beg to the level of national hero for Uzbekistan because he wasn't overly religious. Then there is Tamerlane (Timur), who is a historical hero for restoring Samarkand after it was destroyed by Genghis Khan.
I got a little tired of plov (pilaf). There's just so much plov you can eat. Everything was heavily seasoned with parsley and cilantro. But the green tea was the best I have ever tasted.
I'll bet it's better nowadays. Back then, everything was very heavily controlled by the soviet bureau of tourism. Intourist did not allow you to wander from their itinerary. You had to eat in hotels, not restaurants. There was very little to drink besides horrid bottled mineral water until a shipment of orange juice came in from Greece. $5 USD for a tiny can. We bought them all up. It's dusty in Uzbekistan. Oh -- we never changed our money. They took USD. They laughed if people tried to give them rubles. They probably take USD today as well.
I'd brought individually wrapped wipes with me from Rite Aid because I'd heard there were toilet paper shortages in far flung parts of the Soviet empire. Those wipes came in handy in the daytime when it was very hot. I'd wipe the back of my neck with one and it was very refreshing. There was plenty of TP, BTW.
I'm sure the bazaars nowadays sel more consumer goods than just food. They sold no scarves, rugs, purses, vests, etc because communism frowned on buying consumer goods that weren't produced in state factories.
Keep in mind that these are modern cities. Only a small portion of them look the way they did back during the era of the Silk Road. And Uzbekistan is a Muslim country, despite its history as a Russian territory. They did not mention The Great Game back when I went there because the soviets didn't want anyone reminded of how devious they and the British were. But today there is discussion of it. Take the book "The Great Game" with you.
FYI, when I was in Central Asia, the Soviet-Afghan War was going on. America was supporting the jihadists in Afghanistan, so the people of Uzbekistan were somewhat friendly towards Americans.
This has changed.
Osama bin Laden is said to have owned a house in Uzbekistan and traveled at will between Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This is entirely believable, since when I was there, Uzbeks talked of crossing various borders to visit family inside of Afghanistan. I asked, "How can you go across the border in wartime? Don't the Russians stop you?" They just laughed and said, "We've been crossing for a thousand years. There are places the Russians know nothing about, because they'll be killed if they try to come near."
They told me that soviet travel restrictions were meaningless to them. They crossed the borders into Afghanistan and into Iran, Pakistan and even China to visit family. The Russians could not stop them.
I'm sure they travel even more freely today.
Is it safe?
Sorry I didn't see what R5 said. Can you tell me why you think going to Puebla, Mexico is safe?
[quote]Puebla, Mexico. Much safer.
Not since 2006.
I was in Tashkent and Samarkand amongst other places last year. Totally safe. Highly recommended. Bukhara was the highlight of Uzbekistan though, Samarkand feels a bit plastic due to all the restoration.
Good info from R7. Tashkent isn't of much interest to travellers. Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva are very interesting.