Uzbekistan is a travellers dream. It is adventurous, hospitable, unfamiliar, with so many secrets & stories, you feel like you’ve stepped into history – albeit a history with many, many ex-soviet quirks!
This week we’re giving away trips that encapsulate Peregrine's adventurous spirit. This trip goes to the heart of what travelling is all about – discovering a new place, a new experience that goes beyond a check-list of must-do items and a trip that shows you the world in all it’s glory.
Now this isn’t a destination high on most people’s travel bucket list – but most people don’t know what they’re talking about! Travelling in Central Asia is both spiritually rewarding, and highly comical. For instance, if you want to get anywhere in the nation's capital, Tashkent, you simple stick out your thumb and hitchhike…ahem…catch a ‘private taxi’. See in Tashkent, if you’re driving, you’re a taxi! Anybody will pull over and offer you a lift for a small fee. So not only will you get from A to B no worries, you’ll get to meet some locals and have a chat whilst you’re at it!
Hmm, sounds like a recipe for rip-off I hear you scoff, but another curiosity in this quirky little land, is the people. They are the most welcoming, friendly, trustworthy, genuinely interested people around. Being a keystone on the Silk Road, they have centuries of experience in tourism, which has created a nation so eager to please and respectful of travellers that you truly feel at home – even in 50 degree heat in the middle of the desert.
Take money exchange, for example. This task has long worried even the most experienced traveller – someone always out to take advantage of you, do a swifty and see you lose valuable travel dollars. Well that my friends, is not the way in Uzbek land.
See here, the best way to change money is on the black market. Everyone from your hotel staff, housewives to police can be found counting out their som from local gents, only too happy to give you over double the official rate! And since this is a currency made up of one thousand som note – and dinner can cost you 20000 som – that's a lot of cash you have to count out (and carry round - hot tip – take a man bag, wallets are of no use here!).
But time after time, any exchange you do, you come away with exactly what you should – never a som out of place. You’ll be invited in for tea, stopped in markets purely for a chat, no hard sell or ulterior motive. People are genuinely interested in you and where you’re from. And if you’re heading to the town where their brothers' uncles' wife lives you simply MUST stop in for tea, she’d love to meet you!
So you’ve got quirky systems, gorgeous people, but if that’s not enough, how about some of the oldest inhabited cities around? Gruesome stories of conquerors and rebellions, amazing architecture standing the test of time (and weather, it can go from -60 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius in a season…be sure to pick your travel time wisely!) and so few tourists, you really do feel like you’re one of the first people discovering this amazing travel secret.
Let’s be honest – any trip you take is a good trip! We’re travellers, we love to explore, be it our own backyards or the well-trodden tourist paths; if you’re away it’s a good day! But next time you’re thinking of a travel destination, think a little different, challenge yourself and go beyond the bus window, think about those amazing travel experiences you’ve had before -that were about more than you looking like you were holding up the leaning tower of Pisa! Discover a place so unique, so beautiful that you come back feeling like you’ve uncovered a secret no one else knows. Uzbekistan really is a travellers dream.
Win your way to Uzbekistan!
Enter your details here for a chance to win our 13-day Jewels of Uzbekistan trip. You’ll also receive daily emails on each trip we’re giving away, and you can come back each day for your chance to discover Kenya, Peru, Burma, Turkey and many more.