Our personal travel expert, Iain visited Uzbekistan with Cox & Kings last summer. Once a key trading point along the Silk Route connecting merchants from China and the Far East to western markets (and vice versa), and an erstwhile member of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan has a long and fascinating history with a rich and varied culture to match. One of the great benefits of travelling with a specialised tour operator like Cox & Kings is that they use their expertise, local knowledge and connections to create itineraries which delve beyond the surface of your destination. Here are a few of Iain’s favourite such experiences in Uzbekistan, which took him beyond the tourist traps into the real heart of the country.
Shop in the Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent
This food market sits under a huge, green, domed roof with shops spilling out onto the streets of the surrounding area. Here you can shop with the locals and Iain found it fascinating to explore the endless array of fruits and vegetables, spices, and meats and cheeses.
Enjoy a home-made meal in Bukhara
When staying in Bukhara, Cox & Kings arranged for Iain and his group to visit a local family home. Not only did they get to eat a delicious meal with the family, but they were even taught how to cook the dish – a traditional Uzbekistani rice dish called Plov.
Visit a ceramics factory in Gijduvan
See how ancient traditions meet modern technology at a factory in Gijduvan, a town which is famous for its beautiful ceramics. The glazing of ceramics and pots didn’t begin until the 14th century and Iain loved the demonstration of how local ceramics are made, fired and glazed today in modern Uzbekistan.
Learn how to make silk paper in Samarkand
In Samarkand Iain visited a site where they make silk paper and was engrossed by the many stages of the process. Made from the Mulberry tree, artisans first have to strip the bark and boil the inner fibres before crushing them and boiling for a second time. Then the fibres are pressed into trays and left to dry. The final stage of the process is to polish the dried sheets with a stone for around fifteen minutes on each side. They also make bags and clothes out of the paper, though Iain is unsure how these would hold up to British weather conditions!
If you’d like to find out more about Iain’s visit to Uzbekistan and the itineraries and experiences available with Cox & Kings, give us a call on 0191 285 9321 or drop by our store on Gosforth High Street to have a chat and pick up a brochure.