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Touring the Five Stans

Touring the Five Stans

Old May 2, 19, 11:46 am
  #46  
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Samarkand, Uzbekistan (Part Two)

Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Part Two

Next up was the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis.

Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda


Shah-i-Zinda



At this point, we were running ahead of schedule so the guide suggested we tour a carpet factory. Seemed like a nice change of pace, so we stopped there before continuing.

Carpet Factory


Carpet Factory



Next stop was the Bibi-Khanym Mosque and the nearby Siab Bazaar. And then it started to downpour, so I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked. And my energy was starting to fade a bit by this point.


Bibi-Khanym Mosque


Siab Bazaar


Siab Bazaar



Siab Bazaar


Siab Bazaar


Bibi-Khanym Mosque



Bibi-Khanym Mosque


Bibi-Khanym Mosque


Bibi-Khanym Mosque


Bibi-Khanym Mosque


Bibi-Khanym Mosque


Bibi-Khanym Mosque


Bibi-Khanym Mosque


Bibi-Khanym Mosque


Bibi-Khanym Mosque


That was the end of the formal program, but we still had some time to kill. I asked to see any interesting Soviet buildings or mosaics, but the guide didn't really have any to recommend. So we saw a church and a few buildings, then went to the train station.

Samarkand


Samarkand


Samarkand


Samarkand


Samarkand
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Old May 2, 19, 12:03 pm
  #47  
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Uzbekistan Railways Afrosiyob: Samarkand - Tashkent

Uzbekistan Railways Afrosiyob: Samarkand - Tashkent
Economy Class
Train 761

Departure: 5:28PM
Arrival: 7:44PM


I had some time to kill, so I bought an Uzbek sim card for $2.50 US, exchanged some currency and bought some bread for later. The station got pretty crowded with Italian and French tour groups, but the train arrived on time. Boarding was quick, but the train ended up being completely full. Economy class was the only ticket I'd been able to secure a few weeks earlier, but I would have preferred Business or VIP class for the additional privacy/space.

Regardless, Economy was fine for a 2 hour train ride. I was so tired I slept for half the ride anyway. The train arrived in Tashkent on time and my driver was outside waiting for me.

Samarkand Train Station


Samarkand Train Station


Samarkand Train Station


Tandyr Nan


Samarkand Train Station


Afrosiyob Train
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Old May 2, 19, 12:10 pm
  #48  
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Hyatt Regency Tashkent

Hyatt Regency Tashkent

The Hyatt wasn't too far from the train station, so the ride was mercifully quick. I was pretty exhausted and hungry by the time I arrived, so I ordered some room service them promptly slept from 10PM until 10AM the next morning.

Room


Room


Room


Room


Room


Room


Room


Welcome Gift


Welcome Gift


Salad


Chicken Shashlik


View from the Room


View from the Room


Hyatt Exterior


The hotel itself was totally fine and I slept very well. I had breakfast the following morning in the buffet restaurant off the lobby. The buffet was pretty good and had a large variety. It was also very crowded. For whatever reason, they never charged me for breakfast. I pointed this out to the front desk when checking out, but they said it was fine. Ok then.
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Old May 2, 19, 1:28 pm
  #49  
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Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

I met the guide in the hotel lobby at 12PM and we began the tour from there.


Hotel Uzbekistan


Dvorez Forum


Tashkentskiye Kuranty


Hotel Uzbekistan


Tashkentskiye Kuranty


Amir Temur Statue


Amir Temur Statue


Amir Temur Statue


Dvorez Forum


Alisher Navoi Opera


Alisher Navoi Opera


Tashkent


Blue Dome Cafe


Blue Dome Cafe


Blue Dome Cafe


Blue Dome Cafe


Central Exhibition Hall of Academy of Arts


Central Exhibition Hall of Academy of Arts


Central Exhibition Hall of Academy of Arts


Central Exhibition Hall of Academy of Arts


Central Exhibition Hall of Academy of Arts


State Museum of History of Uzbekistan


State Museum of History of Uzbekistan


State Museum of History of Uzbekistan


Sharq


State Museum of History of Uzbekistan


State Museum of History of Uzbekistan


Reception House of the MFA of Uzbekistan


Reception House of the MFA of Uzbekistan


Mustakillik Square


Mustakillik Square


Mustakillik Square


Memorial Square


Memorial Square


Mustakillik Metro Station


Mustakillik Metro Station


Mustakillik Metro Station


Pakhtakor Metro Station


Pakhtakor Metro Station


Alisher Navoi Metro Station


Alisher Navoi Metro Station


Uzbekiston Metro Station


Cosmonaut Metro Station


Cosmonaut Metro Station


Cosmonaut Metro Station


Cosmonaut Metro Station


Cosmonaut Metro Station


Tashkent


Monument of Courage


TV Tower


TV Tower


Hazrati Imam Complex


Hazrati Imam Complex


Hazrati Imam Complex


Hazrati Imam Complex


Hazrati Imam Complex


Hazrati Imam Complex


Tashkent


Tashkent


Tashkent


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


Chorsu Bazaar


We stopped for a quick bite to eat at a local restaurant. I had a somsa, which was quite good and very cheap. Less than a dollar for lunch.

Somsa for Lunch


Tashkent Circus


Tashkent Circus


Tashkent Circus


Turkiston Palace


Turkiston Palace


Alisher Navoi Cinema (former Palace of Arts)


Alisher Navoi Cinema (former Palace of Arts)


Amir Temur Museum


Tashkent


Tashkent


Tashkent


Tashkent



The tour itinerary was finished, so we headed to the airport.
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Old May 2, 19, 2:03 pm
  #50  
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China Southern Business Class: Tashkent - Beijing

China Southern
Business Class
CZ Business Class Ticket
CZ6028
26 April 2019
Airbus A330-200 (Three Class Configuration)
B-6058
Seat 2K

Departure: 9:10PM
Arrival: 5:05AM 6:00AM


I arrived at the airport fairly early, but unfortunately the CZ desk didn't open until around 3 hours prior to departure. So I had to wait in the terminal for a bit. The exchange counter wouldn't take my unused Uzbek sum because I didn't keep the receipts from my previous exchanges. Really annoying.

Anyway, check-in opened eventually and I was quickly airside. Customs and immigration were completely painless, though they did ask to see me e-visa again on departure. No idea why, but I'm glad I didn't toss it.

The lounge was pretty dismal. Food selection was poor, there was no wifi, chairs were uncomfortable and I found a large insect skittering across the floor near me. There were power outlets, so I charged my phone. That's about all I can say about it. Eventually, we were allowed to board.

Mosaic opposite Lounge


The J cabin on this plane was quite small, with only two rows. It was completely full. I knew in advance that the hard product was not competitive. Very similar to what TG uses. However, the price was quite reasonable, so it was fine. The crew informed us the flight time would be roughly 4 hours, so I didn't expect to get much sleep on the flight.

Cabin


My main issue with this seat, aside from how hard it is to sleep when it feels like you're sliding out of the seat, is the utter lack of storage space. This seat design is probably one of the worst designs out there, despite its ubiquity. It doesn't help that CZ completely jams the pockets with unnecessary junk. I'd much rather they leave the pockets empty for my use. The cabin was also quite warm during the flight, which is always a bit annoying.

Leg Room


As I boarded, the cabin crew swarmed me. They pestered me to choose a meal before I'd even settled in to the seat. There was only a single copy of the menu, apparently. They didn't provide a menu for my own use. If memory serves, the choice was between chicken, beef and fish. I chose the chicken.

FINALLY an airline that serves peanuts!!!


The meal was pretty good. The red bean dessert was vile, but everything else was tasty.

Chicken Dinner


After the meal, I slept for about two hours before the cabin crew awoke me just prior to landing. We landed at PEK an entire hour early and parked at a remote stand at T2. We deplaned from L2, so business class deplaned after premium economy. Thankfully, the cabin crew prevented economy class from getting off before us.

On the ground, there was a dedicated bus for J pax, which was appreciated. We got to the terminal pretty quickly and breezed through immigration. Customs was very backed up with folks wheeling around huge piles of luggage. With just a backpack, I wove my way to the front and snuck through quickly.

I then took the free shuttle to T3, which was a lot farther away (by surface roads) than I'd thought. I arrived at T3 by 6:00AM, well in advance of my onward flight.
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Old May 2, 19, 2:19 pm
  #51  
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Cathay Dragon Business Class: Beijing - Hong Kong

Cathay Dragon
Business Class
CX Business Class Ticket
KA901: PEK-HKG (Beijing to Hong Kong)
27 April 2019
Airbus A330-300 (Three Class Configuration)
B-HYB
Seat 10D
Departure: 12:05PM
Arrival: 3:55PM


I couldn't get a boarding pass until 9AM, so I spent a few hours resting in a quiet section of the Arrivals level. Not the most comfortable, but fine for a short while. Eventually, I got a boarding pass and went to the lounge for some soup and a comfy chair.

The flight was fine. Service and food were pretty good. There was quite a bit of turbulence, so the service was interrupted several times. I don't love the chair, but I've flown it before so it wasn't a surprise. Fine for a 3hr morning afternoon flight. We arrive in HKG on time.


Lounge


B-HYB


Legroom


J seat


Menu


Menu


Starter


Chicken


NB: Flickr has been intermittently acting up today, so if the photos don't appear it's an issue with Flickr. The links are good.
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Old May 2, 19, 2:26 pm
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Your TR is marvelous. Would an older single female be able to see some of these sites, alone with a guide? Can you recommend a guide service, please?

Last edited by CosmosHuman; May 2, 19 at 2:52 pm
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Old May 2, 19, 2:28 pm
  #53  
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Cathay Pacific Business Class: Hong Kong - Boston

Cathay Pacific
Business Class
CX Business Class Ticket
CX812: HKG-BOS (Hong Kong to Boston)
27 April 2019
Boeing 777-300ER (Four Class Configuration)
B-KQI
Seat 11A

Departure: 6:15PM
Arrival: 10:20PM


Boarding and departure was a bit late due to late arrival of the incoming plane. Not a huge deal. Luckily, our plane had wifi installed, which was a nice change. Overall, this was a good flight. Very much like previous times I'd flown this route.

Seat 11A


Menu


Menu


Cathay Delight


Nuts


Starter



None of the mains appealed to me at all, so I went with a burger. The burger was excellent and the fries were hot and crispy. The best fries I'd ever had on a plane.

Burger


Fruit for Dessert


After the meal, I slept for a solid 10 hours. I awoke with around 3 hours left to fly. I had the pasta for brunch, which was pretty good.

Pasta


We landed at BOS around 10:30PM and I was outside in the parking lot within 15 minutes, catching a Lyft home.
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Old May 2, 19, 3:31 pm
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Thanks for sharing a really interesting report, your photos were amazing.
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Old May 2, 19, 3:41 pm
  #55  
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Originally Posted by halfcape View Post
Thanks for sharing a really interesting report, your photos were amazing.
+1. The trip itself was awe inspiring, and the trip report was beautiful.
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Old May 3, 19, 12:48 am
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Thanks for the TR, I enjoyed very much reading it.
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Old May 3, 19, 8:26 am
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Originally Posted by Fliar View Post
Thank you for a wonderful TR!
Thanks for reading!

Originally Posted by CosmosHuman View Post
Your TR is marvelous. Would an older single female be able to see some of these sites, alone with a guide? Can you recommend a guide service, please?
Thank you!

Certainly, I don't see why not. These countries are generally very safe; typically safer than most large US cities. Language is the biggest hurdle and learning to read Cyrillic in advance of my trip was quite useful. Google Translate is also useful.

If you're interested in traveling independently and doing all the planning yourself, you can easily do as I did. There's a lot of research involved, but there are some excellent websites devoted to this topic. Where practical, I use freelance tour guides for cost and flexibility. I used: TourHQ.com in Baku, Almaty, Tashkent and Samarkand; ToursByLocals.com in Bishkek; Ayan Travel in Turkmenistan; and AAA Tours in Dushanbe.

There are also a number of tour operators that offer group (and private) tours of the region. I ran into several of these groups. I've never taken a group tour like that, but Advantour is a reputable tour operator. If you'd like the names of my guides, some tips and/or additional info/specifics, please PM me. I'm happy to help.


Originally Posted by halfcape View Post
Thanks for sharing a really interesting report, your photos were amazing.
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Originally Posted by moondog View Post
+1. The trip itself was awe inspiring, and the trip report was beautiful.
Thank you so much! Being my most ambitious trip thus far, I was a bit surprised that everything went so smoothly.

Originally Posted by nequine View Post
Thanks for the TR, I enjoyed very much reading it.
I glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for all the great questions.
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Old May 3, 19, 10:24 am
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Swingaling dare say you are the envy of some of us ! Going to exotic places. Your photos are very sharp and capture details.

Also Samarkand brought back childhood memories of stories of Arabian Nights and Aladdin genres. Tashkent reminds me of the Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri who died there of a heart attack after a Peace Conference with Pakistan !
Funny, Registan also mean a desert in Urdu/Hindi.

While you were on a mission of visitng highlight, it might be more informative for many of us to see some local color, life, daily life etc.

Last edited by HMPS; May 3, 19 at 6:52 pm Reason: spelling
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Old May 3, 19, 12:46 pm
  #59  
 
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Excellent Report. Thank you for taking us on the journey with you and sharing.
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Old May 5, 19, 4:55 am
  #60  
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Stunning Islamic art!
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