The next two days will be a mix of flight and fantasy. Some final beautiful views of Khiva’s gates and fortifications as we drive to the airport; experiencing Uzbekistan security and airplanes; gin and tonic Uzbek style and farewell dinner – all add spice to the mix of traveling in the Stans of Central Asia.
Tashkent is a city of very modern buildings interspersed with some ugly Soviet relics, green manicured parks, fountains, and a very organized traffic system. Except for closing down the streets and having armed guards every 100 feet, severe restrictions as to where you can take a picture without being shot, all in the “protection” of their president, Tashkent is really a beautiful walking city. They even have an artsy metro in the vein of the famous Soviet metro.
Cameras, and heavily armed guards, are everywhere. So is the flashy Hyatt Regency, a high rise Ramada Inn though our guide says “remodeled by Ramada but smells like Soviets,” trendy shopping like Armani and Apple, kiosks to buy a chizburger or Gamburger, and one of the best traffic systems I’ve experienced. Every light is timed and pedestrians obey them.
I keep reading about colorful straws served with beer. Haven’t been able to confirm this. No straw with beer because no beer. But did get a bright blue flex straw with my coffee latte this morning.
Today we are driven to the Tajikistan/Uzbekistan border. We were warned that it can be a difficult crossing as the “No man’s land” is long and you have to carry your luggage. Additionally, it is partial gravel, computers are really slow, it is very hot with no shade and we find miles of trucks waiting to cross. It all spells c.h.a.o.s.