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That’s right, I’m in Uzbekistan.

Why Uzbekistan?

I came across for a friend’s wedding, Ulugbek who I met whilst studying in UIBE in China. We were in the same class, and I often ate lunch and hung out with both him and his Mexican roommate Raul (for who I also travelling with to Tashkent)

I was always very interested by his customs, because they are very different from my own. Muslim traditions seem quite difficult to keep in Beijing, as it is potential a city of debauchery, lots of drinking, partying… access to whatever you want despite everything being illegal.  But Ukugbek was and IS a very calm, polite, responsible young guy.  Incredibly nice, and incredibly friendly.

Also what is novel to many people is that he only speaks Uzbek and Russian. He knows a few words in English, but he doesn’t really speak it as far as I’m aware.

So… all of our conversations between the 3 of us, are all in Chinese Mandarin.

An Uzbekistani guy, a Mexican guy and an Australian guy all communicating through the shared language…of Chinese.

His Chinese has improved a lot. For most people their chinese language level decreases as they return home because you just don’t use it very much. But no Ulugbek. In fact dare I say its even got better than I remember.

My teacher, Pedy, when seeing our group chat for which only Chinese is used, even commented that she thought he was a native Chinese speaker… maybe from Xinjiang province (the province nearby Uzbekistan on the west of China)

Pretty damn impressive. There’s nothing that I say (unless I accidentally use the incorrect grammar) that he can’t understand. Maybe some Chinese slang words, but there’s no need for that here.

Anyway, so after having a bit of trouble trying to get a visa we eventually, with Ulugbek’s help got permission to get the visa on arrival.  However this happened 1 day before we were to actually go to Uzbekistan.

As soon as we KNEW we COULD come we booked the tickets… which of course was a pain in itself. I tried several times to book the right tickets for myself and Raul, only to find that the one that I used with my credit card didn’t really go through.

The money was taken from my account, but the ticket was immediately cancelled.

So after 1 polite call to ANZ back in Australia, and 1 more angry one about wtf happened… and saying that if I couldn’t get use the money in my account I couldn’t book the ticket….and with them telling me something along the lines of… ‘oh, just wait several days… and you should have the money back in your account’

….Yes but my flight is tomorrow….I’m not going to be able to wait several days.

Anyway, I moved some money around.. and Paypal came through so we had the flights.

Was flying at 5.50 am from Beijing T2 to Almaty, in Kazakhstan with Asana Airlines. (yep I had never heard of any of these places before, or the airline)  But at the same time, if I hadn’t heard of the airline before… I guess it didn’t have a history of crashing ….so at least that’s a good thing, oh yep and then 3 hours stop and on to Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan.

Visa on Arrival Problems

We didn’t really sleep the night before so good to get some sleep on the plane, but the big problem was that because it was so early when we arrived at Beijing T2 airport Friday morning , (in fact we were only the 2nd flight to leave that day) nothing was open. Not even the money changer place.

And then at Almaty airport…they didn’t even have a money changer place.. .and then arriving at Tashkent airport… which to be quite honest looks more like a small bus terminal than an airport; there was a money changer, but it didn’t take Chinese RMB, only Euros, Swiss francs,  Japanese Yen and USD. For which we actually needed USD.  As the visa on arrival only gets done in USD.

So ….bugger.

I ended up calling Ulugbek, who was waiting outside. (very glad I put international roaming or 国际漫游 on my chinese cell phone) and asked him if there was any way he could get some USD in.

Well.. long story short on that one, he needed up going home….getting some USD coming back, paying for our visas outside…us waiting on a metal bench for about 2 hours before the next visa processing person came back.

Retrieving my checked-in luggage from lost and found (because it had been so long it was on the conveyor belt) and then trying to go through the Customs there.

By the way on the plane, they give you 2 forms to fill out, which are identical and which only really concerns about how much cash you’re bringing into the country.

We just figured the extra one was in case you made a mistake.

Nope, apparently you need to fill them both out, exactly the same because the only thing they are really concerned about is the whole cash thing.

We later found out it is incredibly difficult to change money is Uzbekistan. There is an official rate and a black market rate, of which the official rate rips you off by 60%. Great. Plus apparently its almost impossible to change Chinese RMB.

So basically Ulugbek has been paying everything for us, Visas, Hotel, food, all in his hospitality , but also obviously in our hopelessness.

We’ve go to find a way to repay him for this.

So how is Tashkent?

First of all…apparently the word david or daveeed means go quickly. Because I heard it a lot on the airport and kept thinking that our friend was shouting my name.   Nope.

2nd. Wow blue skies, hot, awesome temperature. It reminds me of Australia.

The airport is a bit like Kenya, just one building and once you’re out of that you outside already.  Blue skies I can’t stress how awesome that is coming from Beijing, white sun, where you have to put your hands to your face to cover from the brightness…and can instantly feel the warmth on your skin.

3rd, there is a huge amount of Chevrolets here. Like probably 80-90% of the cars are Chevrolets.  Daewoo is also present here but the Chevrolet actually bought the model for a few of their cars so essentially its all Chevrolets.

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This is one of the kind of things that I notice. I need to stress I, because apparently most people I told that too was like… ‘you’re in a new city and all you see is that there’s lots of one type of cars?  That’s pretty strange’

Hmm not for me.  I mean I didn’t really have anything that I was expecting of Uzbekistan, neither did Raul apparently, just maybe a bit of a run down town, with some middle eastern accents (of the environment not the spoken accents)

But I wasn’t expecting American cars everywhere.

The reason that I find this interesting is that I know that Uzbekistan is one of the ‘pact countries’ that China has banded together for Security cooperation…but also in balancing the whole USA dominance situation, called the Shanghai Cooperative Alliance or SCO. They aim to fight terrorism, separatist movements, and aim to come to each others aid if one cannot enable the right resources to make this happen. Its also there as a secondary purpose for Aid & trading.

Yet America has managed to come in and go straight for the company aspect, establishing as Chevrolet plant in Uzbekistan, which as such means the cars are all very cheap here, and such that given the choice of old Russian car, or Chevrolet…of course they’re going for the Chevrolet, which they can somewhat claim with pride that it was made in Uzbekistan.

By the way ugly cars, but overall nice cars.

So the balance war is still on.

Also currently I’m listening to a book called ‘The secret History of the American Empire’ which details these kinds of practices in the overall goal to control a region, and its interesting to see it implemented right before our eyes.

So moving on. That’s obviously what interests and intrigues me, and the Chevrolet plant and some of the background info was confirmed by Ulugbek himself, who of course also drives a Chevrolet as does everyone in his family.

So yep, clean.  Everything is very clean.  There is that certain Middle Eastern air to things.. for example the roads are ‘messy’ in terms of traffic.

Cars drive around 52km/h to maybe 63 if you’re going fast.  Which is of course quite slow, but when you’ve got no seat-belts and there’s cars weaving in and out casually but also nonchalantly leaving 20 cm spaces between other cars when they drive.. yeah this is pretty interesting.

On the 2nd day we were here, I may have let out some involuntary yelps as I thought we were going to crash several times.

Safe, the people are nice, I mean be respectful of course… don’t be a dick is the overriding rule here. But nice, very friendly people. All of Ulugbek’s family was very nice. Very respectful. It feels like it’s a city in which nothing bad could ever happen.  In fact, I don’t understand why the Australian ‘smart traveler’ warning essentially says ‘don’t go unless you really have to’

On the 2nd day, Raul and I went for a walk outside our hotel, up and down the street, and must have walked for about an hour in total. What we saw was that everyone was very polite (of course we wore pants as wearing shorts attracts attention) but school children wearing blazers, shirts, and long pants.

It seems on that one, that parents are raising their children to be respectful members of society rather than just some kids.

Its honestly a welcoming change as compared to a lot of the brats that you see in China and elsewhere.

All the young adults are mostly wearing shoes, not sneakers but actual dress shoes when they go out. They are respectful to the opposite sex, crossing their hands across their chests and bowing the traditional Muslim greeting of ‘as-salaam ‘alaykum’   -Peace be upon you.

Of which we of course did when we were meeting all of Ulugbek’s relatives and close family.

When close family, or considered close family greet each other (men at least) they will shake hands, draw each other in close and then touch the side of their heads softly against the others.  It’s a very almost emotional sight to see, very respectful once again.

Traffic, hahaha yep, this is quite funny as I briefly explained, but for the most part it looks like the government has laid down a stretch of road…and not bothered to put any lane markers down and just said ‘go for it’.

But, that being said… its quite relaxed.  Why?  Because wherein Australia you would have 1 lane either side of a normal street. In Tashkent they have 3 lanes either side.  Sure none of it is marked but it allows drivers to almost go the speed they want, and most of it is slow.

I say almost go the speed they want because there are lots of pot-holes and the road has many bumps and small little drops in it. There also seems like there was once a train, or tram going through some of the roads, which is now no longer in use, but that has begun deforming and they haven’t taken it out yet. So the middle ‘lane’ in which people sometimes drive is incredibly bumpy.

Oh and as for the reason for the rest of the bumps according to Ulugbek, is because there’s an earthquake on average about once a month… which of course shakes up the road quite a bit.

He also said it’s the reason why there are no skyscrapers, so the city is well stretched out. Giving it more of a relaxed feel I think.

Also adding to this relaxed feel is that the houses & shops are well set back from the road, like sometimes a good 20 meters but mostly around 10m, so you’ve got plenty of space between the driving world…and the ‘living’ world so to say. Which means you’ve got this great feeling of openness. Its really amazing actually.

The only time driving is really crazy, as compared to the normal messiness is the areas around big markets. There you’ve got 3 lanes either side (separated by a fence this time) but with at one point I counted 7 cars on those 3 lanes.

Pretty damn impressive.

Food?

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Food oh my good, we were always full.

I think this is of course part of the hospitality and respectfulness of looking after visitors, but it is seriously though.

We had breakfast in the morning and then go out for lunch or something.

Ulugbek told us that there was plenty of oil in the food, of which we first disregarded because in fact Chinese food often has way too much oil, so we thought we’d be used to it.

But anyway, there’s lots of beef kebabs, lamp kebabs, raw onion (sautéed and spiced to be eat with it) nice meaty salads, amazing soup, lots of bread.

In fact, breakfast mainly consisted of different kinds of bread, and eggs… and then cakes. Which you could argue is just a bit like bread and eggs mixed together.

Also at every meal lots of soft drinks and juice.

Muslim country so no alcohol and no pork.  But they make up for it. Turkey or duck in salads taste pretty much like pork.

Lots of horse meet too, which is pretty decent to be honest.

At one point in time Raul and I decided that we needed to start lying about whether or not we’d eaten dinner or breakfast.

We had been full for 2 days, and on the 3rd day we were asked if we had eaten dinner the night before and breakfast that morning… of which we said we had, (even though we hadn’t) our stomachs were trying to process that much food and we knew if we said no we missed it… we’d be force fed to make up for it.

We both looked at each other and nervously laughed when asked that question.

Raul’s stomach has been 不舒服 (not so comfortable) the last few nights… I think either because of so much food, or because of all the oil in the food.  But after a while I had to literally push my plate back and just say… ‘I just can’t’

Even now, sitting here in the hotel room writing this… my stomach feels a lot bigger than it was since I left china.

Plus, yep, we’ve been going for walks after our meals just to try and get some movement going… because if you eat that much and do very little movement it can only be a bad thing.

Most of the men here, have huge bellies. Like HUGE. Apparently as we were told at the wedding, it’s something to be respected in Uzbek men.  So…I guess we weren’t very respected.

Oh the smells, you will go past many places that honestly smells a lot like the meat form Hungry Jacks or Burger King or whatever. There definitely is a lot of oil in the beef kebab kind of skewers.

Sights?

Sights to see? Well we’re not really sure to be honest, we didn’t’ do much research before we came, I just watched 1 or 2 YouTube videos on wedding procedures to see if I needed to prepare anything. But all I got was tribal wedding ceremonies, nothing which really prepared me for the awesomeness of what we really experienced.

Anyway, we went to the market, that was interesting in itself. But nothing that special.  Apparently we are meant to go to a different town either today or tomorrow morning to see one of the old kingdom buildings towns but I’m not sure that will be happening.

We went to the town center, walked around a bit, went to a museum that looked a lot like an old Mosque, and learnt a bit of the history of the traditional old Kingdom of Uzbekistan. And we ate. A lot a lot.

Most of the stuff we have seen to be honest is more about Uzbekistani modern life, because essentially we came only for our friend’s wedding, not specifically for a tourist visit. And so the experience to be had is quite different.

For example, visiting China for tourism you will see the great wall, the terracotta warriors maybe do a river cruise, maybe see some of the strangeness of the city…but only at a glance.

But actually living in one of the cities is a completely different experience. Its amazing, you interact with the people, you see how they live, you see and get to understand their Customs, you get to ask Why? For many things instead of just observing.  So yes very different experience.

So the experience we’re having in Uzbekistan, or rather Tashkent is more of the ‘living’ experience through living rather than that of tourism.

It’s just good to see our friend again, see how he lives, where he comes from and to of course to participate in the celebration of his wedding.  Which is a tremendous honour.

The wedding?

Wow. This was totally not what I was expecting.  I had watched some YouTube videos, and was already asking Ulugbek if we had to wear any special traditional dress or anything, trying to be as respectful as possible to their Customs… but nope just smart suit is all that’s necessary for the men, it’s the women that do the colourful dressing up.

Ulugbek even explained to us the procession of events that would happen so that I guess… we could be prepared somewhat for the organisation of the day (Monday 25th of May)

We would first come to his parents’ place, and meet his close relatives.

He would get prepared, and then all the men (meant to be men that weren’t married yet) would drive to his future wife’s place to pick her up.

There might be some kind of ceremony there, and then we’d all go off to a big hall for the actual wedding dinner and other ceremonies to begin.

Well, yes, that is essentially what happened, but the details are incredible.

At his parents’ place, which is amazing by the way…. will have to write about that.;

Ulugbek was getting ready, we were talking to … or at least trying to talk to his relatives through his cousin, eating some cake…. As normal apparently. The camera guys were already there setting up and beginning to take different shots of the house and all the people.

And then the band arrived.  At first there was a little trumpet thing that looked like a clarinet, as well as some symbols and tambourines and some drums… and then the traditional Uzbek horns came out.

Anyway it started, first outside the house in the alleyway (big though, not a dodgy alleyway) and then moved inside. They were all dressed in what I guess is traditional Uzbek robes. We all went inside to the courtyard area inside the house, and then they performed a trumpeting show.  Honestly incredible!  And the sound.  Its mainly one sound to be honest, but the feeling you get from 6 or 7 of these thing all in unison or slightly out of phase is amazing.

Its like something that is supposed to be reserved for a prince.

And just after they finished that performance of which there was suddenly a drone doing camera work as well, we were incited inside Ulugbek’s side of the house for some photos and to see how he was going.

He really did look like a prince actually. Dressed very handsomely, so in fact I think all the music was worth it.

They have many rooms in Uzbek houses, like 1 room with a table set formally for around 20 people, and then another room with a long table in which you sit, for more traditional meeting which I guess could sit around 30 people.

Anyway, we had some photos with Ulugbek, but mainly he had photos with his family. All women, all men, all together etc.

And then Raul and I went back outside to see what was going out there, because the band had since moved out there, and it seemed more Uncles and Aunties had arrived.

And we were met with a giant line of 8 Mercedes G-class wagons all blaaack, and one white Mercedes S400 at the front, for Ulugbek.

Anyway, after a bit of time Ulugbek walked out through a saluted passageway of the traditional trumpets said a respectful good bye to every one, and then got in his car and then we all got in the G-class wagons.

It is normal in this part of the procession that only the guys go to the soon to be wife’s house.  It is quite separated in this way, but that’s the tradition. Also its only meant to be guys that are not married yet. So for example there may be men going gas well, but they are mostly there to look after the younger male kids who can’t look after themselves. The women from the Groom’s side will spend this time getting ready themselves ready for the restaurant and the rest of the ceremony, but will not participate in any of the ceremonies at the soon to be wife’s home.

First of all, Raul and I were like ‘holy shit, this is already amazing’  And then Raul said… ah I might try to sleep on the way because we knew it was going to take about an hour.

No sleep for Raul, I’m not joking but the procession of cars was something like out of an American gangsta music video. In fact, it would make them envious.

I’ve taken some videos and I’ll upload them, along with a lot of pictures but…

The cars were driving in formation. Yep I think that’s the best way to express it. Like some speeding up, keeping the grooms white Benz in the middle, then suddenly taking up the whole highway, 4 side by side, followed by 4 side by side.

2 at the front weaving back and forth, and then suddenly we were doing the same with everyone else doing it as well.

All the while the cameramen, one in particular was hanging out from his car filming the whole thing.  Very impressive.

I would love to see this professional video because I think it would truly be amazing. Especially and ironically if it was set to gangsta music.  Ulugbek is such a mild mannered guy that having this G-class Mercedes formation driving with gangsta music put to it would be incredibly funny.

Raul was often joking that maybe Ulugbek was in fact a mob boss and that the whoel time in Beijing we had no idea, and he was just living the simple life with us.

Don’t forget this wasn’t done on an airplane runway or something like is done for music videos… this was on one of the highways of Tashkent full of other cars all trying to get to their destination.

And the Russian looking camera guy hanging out of the car filming all of this, absolutely hilarious.

Oh and policemen just watching this and thinking…. ‘oh wedding…yep that makes sense, sure whatever’

Anyway, finally arrived at the place.

We walked up a small road to the procession of the trumpets with the younger guys dancing at the front, and Ulugbek accompanied by his best man, and then as is the culture apparently, one of the younger guys that was dancing would try to jump at Ulugbek with an outstretched hand to try and mess up his hair. And some of the other guys ‘protecting’ the groom would stop them.

We all went inside the house of which also had a room for a formal dining setting for 20 people, and sat down and had a meal.

1 plate of Pilaf (I think it was called) simple lamb over rice a traditional dish of Uzbekistan was shared between 2 people.  And one dish was put in the corner.

Then Ulugbek adorned special, traditional robes and then the ceremony of feeding other began.

This was to show … as far as I’m aware that he, now as a responsible adult, can be a provider for the rest of the village, or for the people surrounding him.

This ceremony is done with him taking a handful of food and feeding the younger men straight from his hand. Each man is then given a handkerchief so they can clean themselves off.

The groom then takes off this robe and then meets his wife. She comes out downstairs form a different part of the house. With everyone else waiting patiently outside.

Whilst we were waiting, the brides father spoke to me in English and asked me about Ulugbek’s personality. Apparently it wasn’t a direct ‘yes’ when Ulugbek first asked the father for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

And before you jump to say…’well would you just marry each other anyway, if you both liked each other’

Its really not done like that here, there are traditions that have to be adhered to, and these types of arranged marriages are the norm here.

Know that Ulugbek only knew her for about a month before they got married. (He in fact signed the papers with her 1 month before, so it’s a total of knowing her for 2 months before the official wedding ceremony that we participated in)

By the way, we still (Raul & I) haven’t really met the wife, we know that her name is Armeena, that she is a young doctor, having just recently completed her residency, and that Ulugbek is happy with the situation. But when we asked Ulugbek what her hobbies were…. He looked at us and said… “you know what,…that’s a good question… I’ll have to ask her”

Hahaah, so I guess you can kind of understand the situation more here.

Anyway, she came out, there was a brief ceremony of the father handing away the bride of which we didn’t’ really see because that was a private affair and then back in the cars and off to the hotel where we were staying for them to take some pictures.

We saw 2 other wedding processions at the hotel.

Raul and I both originally thought that Monday was a strange choice for a wedding… the only thing we could guess at was that it was cheaper to hire all the gear and the car rentals and what not, but from what we saw Monday or Monday the 25th must have been a special day, because not only did we see these 2 other wedding processions but also 2 on the way to the restaurants formal ceremony place.  So 5 weddings in total that we saw that day.

Oh my god, the restaurant area… incredibly extravagantly decorated. Impeccable service, a band playing constant dancing, and all the women dressed in amazing colours.  All this while Ulugbek and his new wife sat upon a stage overlooking everyone just sitting down. People would come up and take photos with them but they mainly just sat there.

Each time a photo was taken Ulugbek would look at the camera but his wife would look down, and cross her chest. I don’t know what the meaning of this was, but it was obviously significant because she did it for each and every photo.

I will have to ask Ulugbek about it.

There was the traditional Uzbek trumpet performance again.  Again really amazing. And I think somehow better now that everyone could enjoy it.

Raul kept getting harassed because apparently people were under the impression that he was going to sing some kind of Spanish song. Even though he was not aware of it. And he just kept telling them no no no.

Raul and I also both made speeches which we gave in Chinese.

There was no point making it in English, because the vast majority of people would not understand, and neither would Ulugbek.  On hand we had a guy that was also at UIBE at the same time as Ulugbek and translated what we said into Uzbek.

Basically we both wished Ulugbek a happy life, as Raul said its not about a rich life, or one filled with many material benefits but a happy life.

And I talked about how grateful and honoured we both were to be invited to Uzbekistan to be able to share and participate in his wedding ceremony.  And that we both loved Tashkent and his cultures Culture and wedding customs and traditions, that we found them incredibly interesting and enjoyed participating in them.  Also that the people of Uzbekistan were very friendly and that we were happy to have been part of Ulugbek’s life fro the brief moment we were and that we hope him and his wife have a happy life in the future.

After which we got a big round of applause, and for some reason many people handed us money.  (I didn’t understand that part either)

We were also told straight after we gave our little speech and well wishes that we now had to dance… Ok.

Few people laughed at mine and Raul’s confused faces …and then we just started dancing.  Hahah pretty interesting.

The dancing style is like Turkish kind of dancing… I’ve taken some video and will post it  because it is difficult to describe in just a few words.

Occasionally there was Russian music that came on and I danced to that whilst Raul danced Latin style to most of the other stuff.

Ulugbek meanwhile looked like the boss the whole time. Hahah he never danced but just watched on happily. Or as happily as a guy that was being forced to sit for 4 hours could be.

Then there was a special ceremony for the mothers of the bride and groom. In this Ulugbek presented a bouquet of flowers to his now mother-in-law and Armeena presented a bouquet of flowers to her now mother-in-law.  Then the 2 women declared that they were now sisters in a little ceremony, hugged and then everyone danced to celebrate.

After everyone was tired of dancing we all went home.  We finished around 11pm.

We got asked several times how the wedding ceremonies were different from Uzbekistan’s   and I think one thing is that because there’s usually alcohol involved parties can go well past 11pm and usually involves someone sleeping at another’s house or on the particularly drunkenly ones some guys passing out in bushes or something like that.  But of course we tell them that part.

Overall there was about 500 people at the wedding. Amazing.

And now we’re back in the hotel room…3 in the afternoon, with nothing to do…because we’re reliant on Ulugbek, Raul is taking a siesta and I’m writing all about our experiences.

Might go for a walk soon though.

Oh we didn’t’ have a chance to present our gifts, for which I guess we will present today.

Between the two of us we are presenting 2 Chinese traditional umbrellas (made of Bamboo and wax covering- they are both very beautiful in fact), 1 more feminine with lavenders, 1 that is designed for the couple.  They are meant to be not only just pretty for decoration, but also toe represent the love and happiness to be shared between the two people.

Also… they are real umbrellas so I guess they could use them for that purpose as well.

Words learnt whilst I was in Uzbekistan

1st of all, the language of Uzbekistan is Uzbek, followed by Russian.  Everyone speaks Uzbek, most people can speak or at least understand Russian, yet very few people speak English.

Like really very few.

Even Ulugbek, whilst he can understand some English words, Raul and I communicate with him in Chinese.

We were introduced to on eof his cousins, a young guy of around 16 years of age that spoke quite a bit of English.

Its not saying that everything was perfect is just that it was enough to translate the basic things that we wanted to say into Uzbek, so the rest of the friends and family could understand.

Either way, there were certain things that you could say, that we learnt to say in Uzbek that went a long way with the family members.

As it is a muslim country the traditional greeting is done in Arabic

‘as-salaam ‘alaykum’   -Peace be upon you.

This is slightly different for men & women. For men you shake their hands and cross your hand over your chest, and for women and also people that you don’t know very well you just cross your hand over your chest.

The other words are done in my pronounciation, written in a way that I could read them back later and get the right pronounciation

Bola bola = 还行 yeah its ok, its good, its acceptable

Chet eh leek = 外国人 a foreigner

Rahk mad= 谢谢  thank you   (also said crossing you hand over your chest if you’re trying to be extra respectful)

Azer mee dah = 不客气 you’re welcome.

Boh loom = 好了吗? Is everything good?

Tashkent zorr = 塔什干 Tashkent is very good

Yok = 不行 或 不 no not possible

Yammit / billiet? = 靠 dammit

Sautee = 你笨蛋you’re stupid (in Russian)

Osh = the Uzbek national dish

Barcelona la boya bazaarda = Barcelona is the best team in the world

Jut a zorr = 特别好 very very good

Ohl ohl ohl = 请吃,吃吃吃  please eat

Ona ona ona = 他妈的 your mum!  (more insulting than that)

Kor shek = 勺子 spoon

Kettiiik = 走吧 let’s go

Oh an for mannerisms, its traditional to pray before a meal, or when new people come or will go on a big journey.

This is done by placing your hands out in front of you, palms up,  in a bowl like shape, and then after the prayer has been said almost rinsing your face with your hands in one downward motion.

And … which I guess we weren’t meant to know, but basically we were taken to a tea hour on the day after the wedding, for which Ulugbek joined much later because he still had ‘wedding stuff’ to deal with.

The uncles kept asking Raul and I if we normally drink… to which the answer was yes, and whilst having a heated discussion about football….for which I was completely tuned out, they gave us a bottle of Russian beer each.

So…

Flicking your finger to your jugular is a sign to say that someone has been drinking.

If you use 2 fingers then and flick in succession then it means they are really into drinking.

Oh yeah just quickly on the soccer thing / football…whatever.

Raul loves football, and so too did one of the Uncles, but they had a good 1 hour conversation about who’s team was better.

Raul supporting Real Madrid, and the uncle supporting Barcelona, with the poor 16 year old kid called ‘Oh del’ caught having to translate everything.

They finally settled it by moving to a internet bar, for which a playstation was set up and playing FiFA or one of those sporty soccer games…of which I have no care for.

In fact, how I feel about soccer is exactly how the Simpsons portrays it.

The Americans (USA)  are just bored as hell, whilst the Americans (South America & Spanish speaking countries) are all over it…even though nothing is happening

The simpsons Mexico vs Portugal match S9E05 ‘The Cartridge Family’

The last day we had a quick lunch with Ulugbek and his Uncles and then said good bye to everyone, and we were both presented with a traditional Uzbek robe each and some goodies form Uzbekistan and then we were off to the airport.

It seems the only thing they care about going through Uzbekistan Customs is how much money you’re taking out of the country.

They ask the standard question   “have you got drugs”  …..why yes officer I do.

But yep they’re only checking for cash an that’s it.

Anyway, overall the trip was amazing.

Recommendations

Would I recommend a trip to Uzbekistan?

Travel, no, not really.

While I enjoyed my time there it was because we had a close friend there who accepted us into his family.

Uzbekistan seems to be a very family /close friend social kind of country.  I feel if you don’t have family there…then it may be kind of boring.

We didn’t have the chance to go and see other towns, which I regret and I imagine they could have been quite interesting, but I think if you were going to travel to Uzbekistan you would want to go to Kazakhstan, and Iran and do some kind of intrepid tour which includes everything.
I think only then, could it be nice.

We knew what to eat, what to try because of Ulugbek and his family. A lot of the stores and nice places do not look nice from outside and its only by going with someone that knows what is what would you get the relaxed kind of feeling and not worrying about everything so much.

Overall, for the experience that we had, it was most definitely a great time and a wonderful and insightful experience.

david