Justins World

Uzbek musings

Today is a free day. Basically nothing planned like driving, tours, meals etc. It gives the guides a break and us a break from them. So I won’t regale you with stories of wandering the hot streets of Bukhara and rather talk about other things I’ve noted as I’ve travelled recently.
The first is the Uzbek Som. It is the local currency and comes mostly in 1000 som notes. There are no bigger notes, I’ve had a few 500 and 200 notes but it’s mostly a currency which relies on a single denomination note. The current exchange rate is around 2500 som to the dollar. So imagine in Australia we could only pay for things in say 50c coins. That is what it is like here. Notes come exchanged in brick sized bundles. You can’t carry a decent amount of cash in a wallet. You just have to stash notes everywhere. For cost comparison a small bottle of water is 1000 som, a beer is 5000 som, however group meals require bricks of notes to be exchanged. Apparently in Tashkent, cash counting machines are at all the major markets.
The heat is oppressive, it’s like the worst Canberra summer days but hotter and without a cool change ever. Add to that walking through dusty streets and your energy soon gets drained. You won’t get church overload here, but mosque, medressas and minaret overload instead. But here is the catch, of the two cities so far and also Samarkand to come, each city is different, yet the sites similar in many ways.
I’ve covered the shocking state of the roads, despite the abundance of oil and gas in the country. Tomorrow is going to be the first of many Yurt stays for me. Kind of luxurious camping without facilities. So when the Internet returns, I’ll tell you all about it next time.

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