“At first glance, the Uzbeks seem friendlier than the Turkmens. Of course, making grand statements like this after just a few days in the country is pretty irresponsible, but I’m just describing how they struck me. I wouldn’t swear to it. Maybe it’s because the local dictator holds the reins of power just a little looser here. The borders of Uzbekistan are much more open, and not only do they, welcome foreign visitors, with open arms, but Uzbeks themselves are also free to move to Russia for work if they think they can make a better living there. For the past few years, it has even been open to outside investment – before long it will be a regular capitalist state!
The Uzbeks don’t differ much in appearance from other Turkic ethnic groups, and even follow the regional fashion of gold teeth, but to be they seemed much more cheerful and direct.
The tourist is, of course, a special kind of animal – you can stare at it, or try to sell at an outrageous price some item you’d never find a local buyer for nobody wears Cossack caps anymore, and the trade in Quran book holders isn’t what it used to be. Well, we were certainly exposed to a lot of curious looks, because though all the talk is about Uzbekistan becoming a popular destination, over the course of the day we saw only three tourist groups as we walked a circuit of Khiva’s walled old town. (phica, 2019)
“Local and intercity travel was well organized and comfortable. I really liked traveling on the high-speed train, and the local minibusses ordered to transport the group were also in good condition, clean, and comfortable.
The local guide took the group to quality restaurants serving local specialties, where you could have lunch for 7-10 US dollars per person. They were delicious!
Half-board dinners: Tasty food was served in upscale restaurants, and we were never disappointed (although the plov served for dinner in Samarkand was, according to some, too fatty, and with too little meat)
Sights: Fantastic! The itinerary was fine, though the old madrasa building in Tashkent was unfortunately omitted. It would have been interesting to see it, as it survived the 1966 earthquake. The earthquake memorial was just being renovated, so we missed that too.
Currency exchange: Well, there was a bit of a problem here. At the official currency exchange places, they are only willing to exchange currency in perfect condition (I would say mint condition, actually, preferably not folded). They won’t accept older vintage or more tightly folded notes. They will not buy back their own currency (the som) for foreign denominations.
99% of their ATMs only accept VISA cards. During our trip we found only one ATM accepting Mastercard, which is hidden in the Ulugh Beg Madrasa on Registon Square in Samarkand.”
“Digestive problems. This is the result of a slightly different bacterial flora than in Europe. We didn't drink the tap water, and only used it for brushing our teeth, but maybe even that was daring on our part.
You have to be very careful and disciplined when buying fresh goods in the markets (fruit, dairy products), and most things are best avoided... Even fruit washed in local water can cause problems. Cakes and dried fruit are offered for tasting in the market, and this can also have consequences (especially if one's stomach is not in order).
Although the local tour guide was kind, courteous, and helpful, he did not really have the requisite professional knowledge. During our tour, he kept talking about many uninteresting things, and when it came to the main attractions, he presented what he had to say incompletely, in rather broken English.”
“It was a well-organized, memorable trip, with most comfortable, high-quality accommodation, delicious local food, and world-class scenery.
The helpful presence of Mr. László Mari and his outstanding knowledge provided significant added value during all stages of the journey.” (2018)