Leaving Uzbekistan for Kazakhstan by road

First, I forgot to mention a couple places we went in Tashkent, the Geology Museum and Ming Urik archeological site we went to the other day. They were both great. I’m not really into rocks and wasn’t too excited about the geology museum but they ended up having an awesome collection of fossils collected in Uzbekistan and I love fossils. Then, upstairs they had an incredibly impressive collection of stones from Uzbekistan. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in that room. I’m tellin’ ya’ I’m not into rocks but I enjoyed this museum. If you’re in Tashkent you should go.

Then, oh my goodness we’ve seen a lot of ruins on this trip, so many we may be… dare I say… burned out on them… but what I liked about Ming Urik was that they’re right in the city. While standing among the ruins you can look right our on modern day apartment buildings. That’s neat.

Last night, since it was our last night in Uzbekistan, we decided to eat at a fancy Uzbek restaurant for dinner. We’ve enjoyed the local food we’ve had but we’ve mostly eaten at side of the road joints and way off the beaten path places or even in people’s homes. We thought we’d try a high class place. Sadly, I was disappointed. The tomatoes were bland and I’ve been shocked for the past month by how Uzbekistan has the best tomatoes in the world. We didn’t order lamb chops, but we were served lamb chops, and they were prepared well done, or in other words: ruined. The laghman (noodles) and norin (different noodles) were both good but the plov was dry. This was supposed to be one of the best Uzbek restaurants in the country. I beg to differ. I’ve had far better Uzbek food during this trip.

Now to begin our last day. Sad face. I’ve really enjoyed our month in Uzbekistan. So, we woke up and I found us a place for breakfast using Google Maps. Black Bear Kofi. The coffee was terrible but the food and the service made up for it. I don’t think they get many English speaking tourists at their coffee shop because we clearly made the sever very nervous. It was cute. Even though the coffee was so bad I’d still go back if I lived there. I’d just have tea and food.

After breakfast we went back to our hotel, packed up, and left for the dreaded border. And…. it wasn’t so bad!!!! Only two hours this time!!! Still a bit absurd. The whole time we were there we only saw two other cars. That was it. Why did it take us two hours to get through customs? Go here and show them your passport, now go over there and show them your passport, now go over there and show them your passport, now go back to the first desk and show them your passport again, oh! we forgot to check your visa! Come back! Where’s this document? Where’s that document? Let me see your passport again. Now go over to that desk so they can check your passport, now go to that desk so they can check your passport. Now take every last thing out of your car and run it through the machine. Everything. Oh! Now you’re entering a new building you have to run your purse through the machine for this buidling, we don’t care that we just watched you do it outside on their machine, now you have to do it inside for our machine. Now let me see your passport. And through it all I don’t think anyone ever even looked at our PCR test results. That’s a bit worrisome. I guess that’s why Kazakhstan is on the CDC’s level 4 warning list. Yay us.

I had to ask the border guard a couple times before he let me take this picture.

We drove to Shymkent where we have stopped for the evening. We found a nice hotel called Megapolis. They have a great restaurant. I wasn’t expecting much, but Brandon had Chicken Kiev and I had a delicious salmon pasta. Trinidad had a burger. I didn’t take a picture of it. It was just a burger.

And here I am sitting in the lobby writing finishing this post up feeling bummed about being back in Kazakhstan. I will admit it feels like home though. I do like it here. I lived in China for three years and it never felt like home. Every time I left when I returned “home” all I felt was dread and anxiety. I liked Benin and I like Kazakhstan. It feels like home here. When we crossed the border Trinidad said “It feels good to be home” and it made me smile to hear my 14 year old American kid say that about Kazakhstan. But is she really American? In any way other than paperwork? We left the US when she was seven. She knows little more about American culture than many of you know about Kazakh culture. She’s grown up a citizen of the world and as we crossed the border into Kazakhstan she said “It feels good to be home” can I really call her my American kid? I guess that’s a conversation for another time. I’m ready to go relax in the room now.