Uzbekistan: First Impressions 

One week into our trip to The Stans, I thought I’d write a quick post on our first impressions of Uzbekistan. I’m here in Central Asia for a month with Rosie, one of my oldest friends: we’re planning on spending two weeks in Uzbekistan followed by two weeks in Kyrgyzstan (though we might also end up making a brief trip into Southern Kazakhstan). Side-note that this blog has been rather neglected lately, and I do have a few elephants to add from London and Paris but that will have to wait until I’m home again! Unclear how many elephants will be sighted here…

Exploring Khiva with Rosie


The first thing to say is that the sites we’ve seen of this country are absolutely stunning and I do not understand why more people don’t travel here. I’ll probably write a later post about why we decided to come to this region (and why you should too!) but safe to say that we’ve been thoroughly wowed by Tashkent (the capital), Khiva (an old Silk Road city, awkwardly most famous for being a key slave-trading post) and Bukhara (another Silk Road city and centre of Islamic learning). However, it is definitely the most off-the-beaten-track destination I’ve ever been to in my life and we have hardly met any other tourists at all – this can give it a slightly surreal feeling. While wandering around the deserted palaces of the Khivan Khans a few days ago, we found ourselves almost wishing there were a few more people around to see these amazing places! A far cry from the 14th century geographer Ibn Battuta’s description of Khiva as somewhere so full of people it was impossible to find your way in the crowd… All the Islamic architecture is incredible (the newer Soviet-era builds perhaps less so) – and in particular the Uzbeks are especially fond of fine wooden carving, for example on doors and columns, most of which are covered with intricate, winding flower patterns and designs. And the sunsets and accompanying twilight peachy-pink glow on the buildings are to die for!  (more…)