On my last day in Samarkand, I decided to make a little day trip out of the city to the ancient town of Shahrisabz. Jean and I had met a local in the Registan that came over to help me bargain the price for the shared taxi down, and after that I was on my way.
The drive was beautiful, over a small mountain that offered hazy views. It was the first time that I saw anything than flat desert in Uzbekistan, so I was indeed very pleased when the driver offered to stop so I could take some pictures.
Samarkand is what most people imagine when they think of Uzbekistan. Well, that is… most people who know something about it’s heritage (others probably just imagine desert). It’s the classic post card picture, pretty in every way, and the mosques and medrassa’s that are restored here put a spell on me right after I first heard about them. Now I was indeed very much looking forward to my visit, and dearly hoped it wouldn’t be an anti-climax (like, in a way, Bukhara had been).
While my previous post was all superlatives about Uzbekistan, I realised Bukhara would be different from the moment I started walking through town. I wasn’t too happy with it’s first impression, and had a hard time coming to terms with the town. That probably had a lot to do with the fact that almost everything I wrote about Khiva, has been somewhat countered in the ancient city of Bukhara.
After having spent 2,5 days in beautiful Khiva, today I’ve journeyed on towards Bukhara, my second stop in Uzbekistan. I’m writing this entry while sitting in a shared taxi, in the sweet company of Dominique and Françoise, a French couple I’ve met yesterday while on a tour to the desert’s castle ruins.
I’m always pretty stressed about border control – for no particular reason really. So far (knock on wood) I’ve never had a troublesome experience. Yes, I’ve been questioned at length in Japan (probably because I happened to be the only white person to get of the boat from Korea) and in Istanbul (for no obvious reason), but other than that – nothing has ever gone wrong. And yet – my heart is always beating a bit faster, no matter how hard I try to look like the innocent backpacker I am.
Obtaining my tourist visa for Uzbekistan was a remarkably swift experience.
First of all, at the time of writing, Belgian citizens don’t need a letter of invitation (LOI) to apply for a visa. This makes the procedure not only faster, but also a little less expensive.
Secondly, it’s possible to apply for the visa through a web-form and e-mail, so you only need to go to the embassy once (to collect the actual visa in your passport). This is a big win, since the Uzbek consulate is located outside central Brussels and getting there without a car is time consuming (although not impossible).
My take on the world and the things I love. Prominently among them: travel, art and the ordinary. I share my discovery of our beautiful world, my self and the arts I'm trying to develop (photography, sketching and writing) in a way that is both honest and poetic. Please join my journey.