it is our second day here, Interesting to know how much influence Russia still has on this country. The KGB runs the security service ,and according to our guide everything is known to them! You have to apply for an exit visa if you wish to go abroad, two months in advance. And the permission only ;lasts for a year.
A very large amount of the GDP goes to the increase and strengthen the army, Every male under the age of 27 has to serve in the army for two years. And there is no freedom to practice any religion in public, you can do so in private. Hence Mosques don’t hold prayer meetings, and there is a restriction as to how loud the call to prayer can be, and I think tourist areas are no go.
Bukhara again is packed with beautiful buildings Circa 15th to 17th Century. Tiles and Mosaics are breathtakingly beautiful. they all are in shades of blue, from dark to pale to fading into turquoise. Because the style of the buildings is the same, after a few days you can be forgiven if you get a glazed look in your eyes, and try to look for something different. Green ,blue and turquoise minarets, domes and inside seem to merge into each other.
All the places are immaculately clean, there is no litter to be seen anywhere, am not sure what the punishment is for being a litter lout, but whatever it is, the citizens know it and obey the rules. Everywhere there is a man or a woman with a broom in hand,lokking fed up ,but sweeping the path. As you approach them, they don’t stop for you but carry on. It is up to you to go around them, while they try not to make eye contact with you.
All cars are white or beige clapped out models of locally made Chevrolets. You see the odd newer model of it in a lime green or yellow. I didn’t see any pother colour. On inquiry i was told that these cars are made in this country. Are mass produced and cheaper. No one can afford an imported car as the duty to do so is 180%. There was no explanation for the beige or white colour, may be the company went to a closing down sale and bought a job lot of the paint!
Hotels and restaurants have hordes of waiters, some of them young boys, who don’t look more than 15. May be it is compulsory for them to join some kind of training if they not in full time employment. No one can or even makes an attempt to speak English. Usually there is a man around in the vicinity, who can speak a little bit, and is in great demand. So if you want something you have to wait for him to be fetched so you can try to make him understand.
These are my first experiences of travelling in organised tours. Though there is ease and security in this type of holidays , being herded like sheep can get quite irksome.After you have been out from 8am , looking at one minaret after another, and then being made to sit through carpet/silk /tiles/musical instrument factory shop, just because the travel company gets a commission on the sale; you begin to question your decision.
Though it is rich country, well the sell gas to China, gold to Russia,oil to Japan and uranium to anyone who wants to make weapons of mass destruction, they should be rich.
Iflation though is 13%. Their local currency doesn’t have much value. You get 6,000 Sommes for a dollar, they are not keen o sterling ,they just want dollars. The we cashed $50 each and got something like 300,000 , a massive wad of cash, we were wondering if we will be able to spend this vast sum! But a cup of coffee costs 10,000. A glass of local wine is 12,000 and post cards cost 15,000 each! So no wonder you don’t see a lot of decent or eating places so there is not a great choice. Food though id delicious and healthy. They tend to serve starters of vegetables which fills you up, then soup and then meat with a few potatoes. Portions are small and served in dainty but small dishes and offer varied nutrition. The cuisine has a mixture of influences, herbs and spices from Asia , the sweetness from Persia and the high consumption of meat from may be Russia.
Though through out our travels we have not seen vegetable farms or fields of cereals, and not much cattle and no sheep at all. Perhaps that is all imported from other countries.
catch you later.