I Went to Uzbekistan and All I Got Was Black Lung and Heat Stroke

OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but boy were we ready to leave, especially after the two hours it took us to clear customs yesterday.  11 days was enough.  We’re not quite sure how we ended up spending that long in a desert in August, but we’re eagerly looking forward to Kyrgyzstan’s alpine Lake Issy-Kol which we may reach by tomorrow night.

Currently we’re in Osh, a border town, which boasts functioning ATMs and reasonably quick internet connections, not to mention a large bazaar and an Islamic holy site overlooking the town.  We’ll visit both attractions this afternoon.

In the meantime, here are some of my random observations and memories of our journeys in Uzbekistan:

  • The heat.  We knew better than to consult a thermometer, but we’re certain it approached 40 Celsius each day.  (That’s 100+ for us Americans. I can’t spell Fahrenheit.  Or maybe I can.)  Lonely Planet warned us of the summer ‘furnace’, but this heat was somehow more subtle.   CeCe craved ice the entire time.   I don’t think we found any.
  • The whitewashed tree trunks.  Everywhere we turned the tree trunks had been slathered with white paint.  One woman suggested that it was to keep the area cool, deter insects, and increase visability to motor vehicles.   We’ll chalk it up to tradition.
  • “Barf” brand dish detergent.
  • Stray white donkeys, ubiquitous outside the cities.
  • The maniac bus and taxi drivers.  One character was strongly reminiscent of Tony Soprano, down to the linen suit.  He bullied passengers and employees (there were at least five on the bus) alike, yet graciously gave CeCe and me some melon.   At one point he appeared to bribe some police officers at a check point with a $100 bill and two bricks of Uzbek money.   On another trip, the driver needed us to wake him twice during the journey.
  • The soot-belching long haul trucks.  Hence the black lung.
  • The gold teeth and the floral print dresses.    Loads of both.
  • And one painted unibrow!  Evidently Kyrgyzstan is full of them.  And according to Nye, one of our two British travelling companions in Uzbekistan, the unibrow only enhances the unrivalled beauty of Kyrgyz women.

So, there you have it.  Uzbekistan in a nutshell.  Book your tickets now!


2 responses to “I Went to Uzbekistan and All I Got Was Black Lung and Heat Stroke

  1. I want gold teeth and floral skirts. That sounds amazing…couple that with a black lung. you two must just be colorful. lovely.

  2. Diane Nelson-Serinsu

    Thanks for the great posts, Mark and Cece, I’m really enjoying them. I’m familiar with the gold teeth and floral prints, I got stuck behind a crowd of Uzbeks at Turkish immigration last week!

    Did you get a chance to wash your dishes with Barf?

    I’m back in Leeds now, where life is safe, rainy and predictable. Hasan joins me here in a couple weeks. Enjoy the colors of the open road-can’t wait to see the photos!

    xx Diane from Cappadocia

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