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We arrived in Tashkent at midnight, and it was 32C! I was expecting a bit of a hoopla at Customs, but it ended up being quick and easy. I’d made a note to fill out 2 English forms each and sent Randy on a hunt to find them. The English forms were much easier to fill out than the Russian ones! I felt at least a little prepared, but wish I would’ve read through this thorough Uzbekistan guide before our trip! Once in the country we were whisked away by the driver from the hostel. We were ready to start exploring Tashkent Uzbekistan with kids!
Tashkent is the most logical first stop on any trip to Uzbekistan, whether you’re staying in Uzbekistan for 1 week or 1 month! It’s a pretty incredible city that caught me completely off-guard. I wasn’t expecting such grandeur, although that was possible misguided given it’s Soviet history.
Driving through Tashkent I was surprised by the number of grand buildings. It seemed like every government department had a massive building to operate out of. I was also shocked by how clean the city is. Not that I was expecting a dirty city. But it’s really clean. Spotless. I didn’t see a single piece of garbage anywhere.
As clean as the city is, the driving reminded me that we are indeed in Central Asia.
There are taxis in Uzbekistan, but any car is also a potential taxi. When we were ready to go into town, we’d just walk out the door and start waving at cars until one stopped. Randy’d show the driver where we wanted to go on google maps, and the driver would decide if he wanted to take us there or not. We’d then offer a price, the driver would typically accept, and we’d all pile in. Our hostel had a board with a few of the major destinations written on it, and the cost of a taxi, so we knew we were offering an appropriate price.
The vehicles typically drive on the right, and usually stop at red lights. Those seemed to be the only traffic rules people adhere to. Left hand turns are particularly crazy, with every “un-controlled” intersection consisting of about a dozen cars in the middle trying to weave around each other to go in opposite directions. It was a bit amusing, and surprisingly we never saw a single accident.
Our first foray into town was to the market, of course. The central market in Tashkent is Chorsu Bazaar. It’s a hot, sprawling area centered around a beautifully decorated circular building. Furthest out is the textile and clothing area, with a few small animals scattered here and there. In the middle is the fruit and veggie market. It’s undercover, so offers a bit of respite from the heat. There’s a few small animals here as well. Mainly birds. It was a bit funny to see essentially a pet-store in the middle of the fruit market, but I guess the birds were happier in the shade.
The center of the market is the large, domed building. The main floor houses the meat and cheese market, as well as a few random things like pickles and cooked pasta. The second floor is a mezzanine running the circumference of the building.
This was our favourite part!
The whole area contained stall after stall of nuts and dried fruit.
We bought half-a-dozen pickles downstairs, and when I went to open the bag to give one to each of the girls the baba at the stall handed a new one to each of the girls. We decided that we’d make sure to look for the little old baba to buy our food from! Once we got upstairs, we wandered around until we found the right stall, although everyone seemed to lavish quite a bit of love on the girls. We bought a number of different kinds of nuts and some dried apricots, and tried a bit of almost everything.
On the way back out the door there was a man selling raisins. As we walked past he handed each of the girls a small pouch. They definitely aren’t going to go hungry!
Hazrati Imam Complex
Tashkent isn’t known for it’s architecture like Bukhara or Samarkand. But, there are a few beautiful, traditional-style buildings around town. The Hazrati Imam Complex is the largest and the newest.
We attempted to head out early in the morning when it was a bit cooler, but we don’t seem to be moving too quickly these days. It was late morning by the time we were outside flagging down our “taxi”.
The Mosque is flanked by two large minarets towering over the entire complex.
The girls were a bit disappointed they couldn’t go up the towers. They were even more disappointed when they couldn’t go inside the Mosque. Instead, they kept themselves entertained learning how to use the shoe-horns that were set up at each of the entrances.
The backside of the Mosque opened up into a giant courtyard with another equally beautiful building on the opposite side. Before walking across it we found a fountain and a wheel-chair ramp. After dousing themselves with water, and using the ramp as a slide, the girls were ready to walk a bit more in the heat.
This proved worth it for them.
The building across the courtyard was a small artisan market, much to Randy’s dismay. Calais wanted to walk through every single stall, looking at every single thing, even though they all had pretty much the same stuff. Randy thought it was pointless cuz we’re not buying anything anyways. I figured the girls get dragged along doing a lot of things we want to do, if they wanted to wander through a few artisan stalls they could go right ahead.
There were a few people at work making wood plates. It was fascinating to watch, and looked like an awful lot of pain staking work! My favourite were of course the tea pots. It’s a good thing we’re not buying souvenirs this trip or I might end up with a kitchen full of tea pots from around the world!
After our outing to the Hazrati Imam Complex we decided our outside limit was 3 hours at a time. It was about 40C outside and we were almost melting. We’re also trying to keep our pace a bit slower and limit our activities to one or two things a day. In the heat, one a day seemed like plenty.
The Hunt for a Pool
As much as the girls enjoyed the market, and had fun shopping at the Hazrati Imam Complex, it was time to find something for them. What better thing to do in the heat than go find a pool! Luckily for us, there was a lovely outdoor pool a few blocks from our hostel.
It was only about a 10min walk, so we decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of getting a taxi. Of course, the girls were great walking TO the pool, but VERY slow walking home. It’s amazing what a bit of motivation will do for their walking pace!
This was the most expensive thing we did in Tashkent. I’m beginning to think we need a separate budget item just for pools! It was worth it though, we all enjoyed the chance to be outside without sweating.
It was a pretty relaxed couple of days in Tashkent, but we managed to do a few things around town. Next up is the overnight train to Nukus, when the real adventure begins! We’ve been warned that it’s long, hot and bumpy so wish us luck!
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Where We Stayed
This is a fantastic gathering place on the south side of Tashkent. It’s not very central, but taxis are cheap and it’s easy to get into the heart of town. We had a family room with a queen bed and bunk beds and our own bathroom. Breakfast was provided every morning, and there was a kitchen and laundry.
The Cost: $50 USD/night, breakfast included
What We Did
In my opinion the market, or bazaar, is always worth a visit! The Chorsu Bazaar didn’t disappoint. It was a real, local market with a variety of items. The nuts and dried apricots we bought here were delicious!
The Cost: Entrance to the market is Free.
Hazrati Imam Complex
I just love that this complex is old world style in a new building. It’s worth wandering, but likely not to buy anything. The obligatory artisan stalls were a bit annoying, but the girls liked them!
The Cost: Free (can leave a donation)
The most expensive thing we did in Tashkent, but worth it by everyone’s standards! We paid for 2 hours, which was likely enough, although the girls could’ve spent all day. If you’re in town on a Tuesday or Thursday women are half price!
The Cost: 110000 Som ($17 CAD) for 2 hours.
Where We Ate
I expected this to be far more expensive than it was! The food was reasonable, and it was air conditioned. A few of the servers even spoke English so we knew what we were ordering (mostly). It was a nice sit-down mean.
The Cost: 65000 Som ($10 CAD) including a bottle of water.
Fantastic local cuisine, including fried dumplings which made Kacela happy! None of us loved the rice sausage, but everything else was delicious.
The Cost: 70000 SOM ($11 CAD)
How We Got Around
Tashkent has a metro, but with 4 of us it was about the same price to just take a taxi…and it was much easier. The most we paid for a car was 15000 som ($2.50 CAD), home from the bazaar. Most of our rides were around 5000-10000 som ($1-2 CAD). A steal of a deal!
Total Cost for 4 days in Tashkent: $329.78
This is going to go up significantly over the next 2 weeks. The Aral Sea tour was quite expensive, and we’re doing a lot more moving around so we’ll have higher transportation costs.
Avg cost/day: $82.44