Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tashkent

On the original plan through the area I had hoped that we could skip Tashkent. As it turns out we have had to spend the last week here waiting for visas. We are not going to be able to get an Iranian visa (don't get me started on all the Iranian-Canadians that keep making trouble in Iran and getting relations so bad that they won't let us in) so we are going to go to Turkmenistan and then over the Caspian sea to Azerbaijan instead.
Tashkent, though more expensive than I would like, is a really nice town. Largest in the region and 4th largest city of the former USSR, you would never know it by walking around. It is very eastern european in feel with lots of parks, large squares and monuments, wide tree-lined streets and sidewalks and, in true soviet fashion, a very cheap and ornately decorated subway system. 15 cents for a ride anywhere along it. I have no idea where all the people are because it hasn't been busy anywhere. It's too bad that these countries have such problems with corruption and bad economies because they could be really nice to live in. Maybe everything is going to seem quiet by comparison with India, etc. now.... In addition to the Uzbeks living here, there are also quite a few Russians and, surprisingly, a large Korean population that resulted from a large migration during the war.
As a total change from what we've been doing lately, we decided to get cultural. Last night we went to the ballet Swan Lake. The night before, an opera. First one ever for the girls. It was fun, super cheap at $1.50 for the opera and $3 for the ballet. Too bad we can't do that all the time.
Tomorrow we are off to Samarkand and the silk road.
Ammon

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