A Few Days in Tashkent

Our time in Uzbekistan has come to a close. Today is our last full day here. We loved it here. Our initial plan was only to stay two weeks but we’ve ended up staying a whole month and we would have stayed longer if our visa allowed us to. We rushed to get back here to Tashkent to see several places we had skipped on our way into the country and now we wish we hadn’t because everything’s closed!

The place we were the most interested in seeing, The Museum of Victims of Political Repression, a museum dedicated to the victims of Stalin’s Great Purge, was closed for renovations along with the State Art Museum of Uzbekistan and the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan.

So what did we see? We went to the Muyi Moborak Madrassa where they have one of the oldest Qurans still in existence. It was written on deer skin and completed in the year 651, only 19 years after the death of Muhammed. Even for an infidel like myself it’s neat to see such a piece of history. For many people it was a real religious experience to be there. We even saw one woman brought to tears. I wasn’t brought to tears but I do like history.

There’s a story about this particular Quran. This was the first book version of the Quran to exist. Before the verses were only jotted down on bones and rocks. The guy that wrote this book did it for posterity. He was murdered by a riotous mob as he was reading the Quran and his blood was spilled on it. To this day you can see the blood stains on the book.

They also had a large collection of other Qurans. I especially like the cute pocket Qurans.

And!!! Locked away in a special place they have two hairs of Muhammed’s! Yes! that Muhammed! The Prophet! It was a pain for us to figure out where it was. I read about it in a fifteen year old BBC article. When we got there we saw the Quran, it’s prominently displayed, but no hair. We asked the security guard, and he said no. Then we went back out and asked the ticket guy and he said yes it was in there. Then we went back inside and asked the security guard again and he said no. Then we went back out to the ticket guy again and he said the tour guide would come soon. When the tour guide showed up he explained the situation to us.

They do have the hairs but they are under tight, tight security. He said he had worked there for ten years before he was allowed to see them. He said they used to have them on display but people tried to touch them and kiss them and it became too much of a problem so now they keep them locked away. So, I guess, maybe, I stood a few feet away from two of Muhammed’s hairs.

We went to a really nice World World II memorial park and museum. The memorial park was my favorite part. They had amazing art outside. The museum was interesting. It was high class. Clearly, they spent a LOT of money on it, and I mean a LOT of money, and yet their English placards were almost comical the translations were so bad. Now, you may think I’m being arrogant complaining about such a thing since I’m in Uzbekistan but this place is only a year old and they must have put millions of dollars into it. In the year 2020 they could have found a fluent English speaker to translate their placards better. Brandon and I are both history teachers with a strong knowledge base from this time period and even we struggled to understand what the sign was supposed to say most of the time. I still loved the museum and encourage you to go if you’re ever in Tashkent.

We tried to find a wax museum but, big surprise, it was closed. It turned out to be a huge labyrinth of mostly closed businesses. I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack walking around in there. Then, when we finally gave up and were walking away, we walked into a place with a sign that said restaurant, the people working there just looked at each other, and they refused to serve us! It was a really shitty 45 minutes.

We went to the Tashkent Polytechnic Museum. It was neat. We learned about the history of automobiles in Uzbekistan. I’ve mentioned a few times that 90% of cars here in Uzbekistan are white Chevrolets. It’s pretty weird. Apparently the Uzbek government has a deal with GM. Here’s an example of what it looks like to drive down the street here:

And just for you, Rie-Rie, we had dinner at a Korean Restaurant. It was good. Authentic. Koreans are the largest ethnic minority in Uzbekistan. Stalin forcibly relocated them here. This place felt like there was a Korean grandma cooking for us in the back. It was cute, to the server, probably the owner, we just looked like American tourists, so he was worried about us and the hot sauce. He came running over and insisted on pouring it for us. He was very worried we would use too much. Little did he know we’re world travelers, we’ve lived in western China and western Africa two places where they like extremely spicy food, and we know what we’re doing. We placated him then just waited for him to walk away before adding five times as much as he had given us.

We took our PCR tests this morning because we leave Uzbekistan in the morning. We have to cross the dreaded border. Ugh. We know even though we’ll be the only car there it will still take us 4-5 hours to get across. Are they fucking with us or are they incompetent? My answer to that depends on my mood. There are always some things we don’t like about travel and crossing that border tomorrow is something my husband and I are really not looking forward to. I keep blocking it out of my mind.