Three years ago when I entered Uzbekistan it was a nightmare at the border where the customs officers checked all the photos on my memory cards, looked everywhere to see how many dollars I had and even looked through every episode of Game of Thrones that I had on my computer. This time I was asked to come first in the queue, got my passport stamp and was through in just then minutes! The reason? Two years ago the countrys dictstor died (on their independence day ironically enough) and was replaced by a much more open president which seemed very popular among the people and welcoming to tourists.
I still needed to register my visa so I booked my first night at Topchan hostel, also to meet some likeminded people to watch the football World Cup with. Afterwards I went over to a couchsurfing host who was practicing to become a guide and showed me everything worth seeing in the Uzbek capital.
We started off with a lunch at the plov center, where each pot of plov (the national dish) could feed as much as 800 people. From there we went to the old city to see the madrassa, mosque and the World oldest koran and then over to a zoroastrianist (the words oldest monoethic religion) temple and finished off in a walk through some old mahallas (neighborhoods) where we were invited for tea by the locals.
The Worlds oldest Quran with blood of its owner, Kaliph Othmsn who was killed while reading it
I went to Tashkent mainly to get an Afghan visa which they wouldnt give me, but still I am so glad I did. Last time I didnt realize how rich this city is in history and culture, both old and modern and it is a city I well could have spent some more time in.
The excavated Zoroastrianist temple from around 5th century AD