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Old 03-15-2002, 11:49 AM   #1
sapienza
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Uzbekistan

So, does anyone here have any experience or know anything useful about Uzbekistan? I'm going there in a few days for work on an aid project and I'll be gone a month. I've done my own research, but I'm more interested to hear what others have to say.

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Old 03-15-2002, 12:26 PM   #2
Undertoad
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Nothing to offer, but Wow! That's heavy-duty! Good luck!
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Old 03-15-2002, 05:33 PM   #3
Hubris Boy
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1. Speaking Russian will not endear you to the locals. Avoid it if you can.

2. The money's worthless. Take cigarettes, cheap Bic lighters, and ballpoint pens to use as "baksheesh". Everybody likes those.

3. You know those anti-bacterial moist towelettes that mommies use to clean the kids' hands in restaurants? Take a bunch of those, too. And use them. You'll be glad you did.

4. Westerners are occasionally the targets of hostility by some of the more fervent (and poor) Islam-embracing natives. Just keep your head on a swivel. Stick to Tashkent and you shouldn't have a problem.

5. Pepto-Bismol.

What a great opportunity! Good luck, and have a safe trip. We expect a full report when you get back!
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Old 03-15-2002, 11:29 PM   #4
sapienza
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Hay, wow, Hubris-Boy! Thanks for the info!

May I ask what you were doing in Uzbekistan, and how long you were there? I'm going to pretty much be in Tashkent the whole time.

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Old 03-15-2002, 11:56 PM   #5
elSicomoro
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Quote:
Originally posted by sapienza
May I ask what you (referring to HB) were doing in Uzbekistan, and how long you were there? I'm going to pretty much be in Tashkent the whole time.
The guy has got to be a mercenary. He knows Russian...and he's in the Reserves. And he's apparently a HUGE fan of wall-to-wall counseling.
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Old 03-16-2002, 07:53 AM   #6
Hubris Boy
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Quote:
Originally posted by sapienza
May I ask what you were doing in Uzbekistan, and how long you were there?
Not long... couple of weeks back in '93. Just lookin' around, you know? Part of a longer excursion through the smoldering remains of the former Soviet Union.

Oh, by the way...

6. Learn to like lamb. You'll probably be eating a lot of it.

7. Take toilet paper. Local varieties are more like fine-grit sandpaper than anything we're used to... and that's when they're available at all. (Usually only in places frequented by ethnic Russians.) Local customs in this regard are appalling, and do not bear consideration.
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Old 03-16-2002, 11:47 AM   #7
dave
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If only someone just made a porto-bidet. Hehe
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Old 03-16-2002, 07:05 PM   #8
sapienza
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Interesting about point #1. I speak a bit of Russian (3 years college edu-muh-cation), but I think now I may hide that fact when first meeting folks.

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Old 03-17-2002, 11:00 AM   #9
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Phone Home
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Old 03-17-2002, 08:00 PM   #10
Hubris Boy
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[quote]Originally posted by sapienza
[b]Interesting about point #1. I speak a bit of Russian (3 years college edu-muh-cation), but I think now I may hide that fact when first meeting folks.

<span lang="RU">Хорошая
мысль, по
моему мнению.
Но, это почти
десяти лет до
я был в
Узбекистане.
Может быть,
люди сегодня
не так же
чувствительно
об этом.
</span>
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Old 03-17-2002, 08:07 PM   #11
Nic Name
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Good thought, in my opinion. But, it has been almost ten years since they were in Uzbekistan. It could be that people today are not so sensitive about it.

for those of us who speak no Russian.

Last edited by Nic Name; 03-17-2002 at 09:24 PM.
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Old 03-17-2002, 08:55 PM   #12
elSicomoro
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Sapienza,

The State Department's travel website might help you as well. Also, here are the State Department's background notes on the country. And although I've never been there, it might not be a bad idea registering with the US embassy in Tashkent when you get there.

Have safe travels, take lots of pictures, and let us know when you return!
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Old 03-19-2002, 06:47 AM   #13
Hubris Boy
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nic Name
Good thought, in my opinion. But, it has been almost ten years since they were in Uzbekistan. It could be that people today are not so sensitive about it.
Close, but no cigar.
It should say "I was". "They were" would be "<span lang="RU">они были</span>", not "<span lang="RU">я был</span>".
Shame on your <span lang="RU">переводчик</span> for making such a simple mistake!
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Old 03-19-2002, 10:15 AM   #14
Nic Name
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mea culpa

my translator said "it was" and I misinterpreted from the context "they were" instead of the more accurate "i was"
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Old 05-02-2002, 12:19 PM   #15
sapienza
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Bringing a thread back to life, even if only temporarily ...

Got back from my month and a week from Uzbekistan last week, and while jet lag disappeared fairly quickly, my stomach still hasn't really adjusted to the concept of non-fat-slathered food.

Overall quick impressions of the place were that the people were really nice, the food was really bad, and that the whole place is just going to fall apart in about 10 years or so.

The people were great. No anti-American sentiment the whole time I was there. I really didn't get outside of Tashkent, the capital, much at all, unfortunately. A trip to Samarkand and a drunken weekend at a dacha up near Charvak reservoir were about it. Folks were eager to meet new people and those that new it couldn't wait to try out their English.

The food was ... well, not my style, shall we say. For those of you not in the know, the cooking style is heavy on the fat.

The national food is called Plov (it's like rice pilaf, I'm sure you can see how the words are related ... pilaf, plaf, plav, plov). It's a rice dish mixed in with various odd vegetables. The place that I ate it at a few times mixed in horse meat, mostly, and had pickled tomatoes and mushrooms on the side for flavor. The entire dish of rice was floating in grease, which guaranteed a quick exit from your body. On top was a large (about 1.5 inches x 4 inches) hunk of fat -- basically that was your dessert. To wash it all down it came with a large cup of warm goat's yoghurt.

Folks prepareed shishkabobs at the dacha we went to, and they consisted of alternating chunks of cow liver and cubed pork fat.

The liver I could handle -- the spices on it were excellent. The pork fat had a tendency to go flying over my shoulder into the woods beyond, though. Whoops!

I managed to get a prescription (under the advice of a co-worker) for Cipro before I left, and it saved me. Power of pepto bismol times 100! There were multiple stretches of days where I was so sick I ate nothing, and when I didn't take my cipro stuff still wanted to come out the other end. I figured my stomach was digesting itself.

In the last few days, co-workers and I started getting most of our nutrients from Beer. The beer we favored was from Kazakhstan, and quite good.

The whole process of acclimatizing to the food was interesting. For the first two weeks my stomach protested about how greasy everything was. For the next two weeks my stomach said "Okay, it's greasy and fatty but I'll let you put some in me. No promises as to which end it'll come out of, though!" And then my stomach started -- *started* -- to say "okay, fine, if that's what you'll eat, I'll cooperate."

Everyone I talked to told me it took around 2 to 3 months to get used to the food. I came back home at the *worst* possible time, I guess -- halfway from each point.

I'm still having a hard time getting used to the food here in the states. It's hard to say, but my stomach is complaining that it's not greasy enough. In the Frankfurt airport on the way back I grabbed some McDonald's -- a food I usually shun for being greasy and nasty -- and it sat in my stomach like a rock. No grease to wash it down! So hopefully I'll be back to eating normally in a week or so.

As you can tell, the food made a big impression on me. I can't help it, I just always assumed one of the best "benefits" of third world countries was that they had great food. I grew up for 3 years in Saudi Arabia and my family travelled all around the middle east (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain). My dad spoke fluent Arabic so we'd always go down to the shabby parts of town for bartering bargains, but also to eat the local food. I was hoping for more of the same. Que sera sera!

Anyways, the last point I want to make is that the country is really at a precarious point right now. It's not a first world country, and it's not a third world. It's one of those rare ones that you can honestly call second-world.

But it's trying -- it's trying so hard! -- to climb up and pretend it's a first world nation so that it can compete on the level of East Europe and Southeast Asia and become a world economy.

I just don't see it happening, though. The infrastructure is crumbling. Streets have huge potholes and are washing away at points. Apartment blocks aren't maintained and loook like they'll collapse at any moment. Electric wiring hangs bare above the street.

In short, the whole country looks like it's held together with duct tape. Uzbekistan is the country that has MASTERED jury-rigging.

And it's a real shame, because unless Uzbekistan starts working on some of the core problems the country is facing (unemployment, inflation, infrastructure), all the shine and polish that stuff like the project I was working on (computerization of water management resources -- trust me, they have FAR more pressing water needs right now than this ...) is going to do nothing and in 10 years they're going to find themselves sliding down a slope towards true third-worldness and back into the dark ages, really.

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