【Uzbekistan】A key town along the Silk Road

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Uzbekistan
By Joe Chiu
2 Feb 2024

A key town on the Silk Road

I still remember when the Silk Road was mentioned in my secondary school class, the teacher introduced a series of countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Turkey, etc. At that time, I already had a keen interest in history, so I was looking forward to visiting these countries one day and seeing for myself the sights and sounds that were shown in the books. A couple years ago, when I was a tour escort, I had the honour to lead a tour to Central Asia, which also gave me the opportunity to visit Samarkand, the old capital of Uzbekistan and the oldest city in Central Asia.

At that time, I was responsible for giving lectures and introducing the sightseeing spots, so I naturally had to make a lot of preparations before the trip. What impressed me the most during my revision was that all the names of the places and people were extremely complicated and hard to remember. The reason is that these names are mainly translated from Turkic or other foreign languages, such as Samarkand, which means "fertile, rich land". On the ancient Silk Road, Samarkand was connected to three empires - Persia, India and China - and was considered a "crossroads of civilisation". The Sultans (ancient inhabitants of Samarkand) made use of this geographical advantage and acted as a middleman in the trade between China and the West for a long time, which made the place prosperous for a while.

 

"If the Dome of the Sky were to disappear, this dome would take its place." A simple sentence expresses the magnificence of the dome of the mosque.

 

One of the most breathtaking sights for me was the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, pictured at the top of the page. Although I've been to countless mosques - Brunei, Malaysia, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, etc. - the Blue Mosque is the one that impressed me the most, and I still marvel at it to this day. From the exterior walls to the interior, every brick and tile is carved to perfection, and the colours are more vivid than other mosques, making it an unforgettable sight. The romantic love story behind it is also the reason why I think it is unique. At that time, Timur the Great, who was very brave and good at fighting, ordered the construction of the largest mosque in the Eastern world, so that the names of him and his wife could be passed down through the ages, and thus it is also called the "Taj Mahal of Uzbekistan". In a patriarchal Islamic country, women are rarely seen in such a position. Is this another example of how "behind a successful man is a woman who supports him"?

 

Tea is the daily beverage of the local people and reflects the influence of Chinese culture on the local community.

Another reason why I enjoy travelling in Uzbekistan is that the taste of food is close to that of Hong Kong. For example, tea is the favourite beverage, and wonton and grilled chicken are the daily food. Uzbekistan can be regarded as one of the top "food paradises" when travelling in the Middle East and Central Asia in the past. Eating is the most important of the four elements of travelling, and it is naturally a great pleasure to taste the flavours of one's home country when one is away from home.

 

As always, the article will contain some travelling tips, and this time is no exception. If you are travelling to Uzbekistan, you need to be extremely careful when exchanging money. When travelling to Uzbekistan, I recommend taking US dollars with you, but most restaurants and shops don't accept US dollars, so you will need to exchange your money into the local currency. If you are travelling in a tour group, your tourist guide will help you to exchange your money, so you don't have to worry about it. If you are travelling on your own, you are advised to go to a bank to exchange your money, instead of going to a general exchange shop, because inflation is very serious in the country, and you can easily be cheated because of the many numbers on the banknotes, which can easily lead you to exchange into millions of dollars.

 

All in all, Uzbekistan is still a low-cost country where the cost of travelling is not particularly high, and it has a rich historical and cultural heritage that is like a history book that is worth chewing on.

 

Translation: deepl.com

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