Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Marguzor lakes

Marguzor lakes are seven beautiful lakes in Fann mountains in Tajikistan. Our journey starts in this car. Normally a 5-seater, it took 13 people on board. To reach the sixth lake, which is about 70 km from Penjikent, we needed 2,5 hours due to road condition and many stops. One of the stops was cos most of the guys wanted to have a collective pray.

Here we have arrived at the sixth lake. On the left you see a house I spent a night. On the right - a toilet. And the local kids that were amazed by foreigners.

The kids wanted to touch everything, it seemed they haven't seen such things as zippers and shoe strings.

That's the sixth lake, a few steps from the house that hosted me.

The same lake from the same spot, but around 8am on the next day.

Local kids.

And that's the seventh lake, about 2 hours walk from the sixth.

Kids over there do have very strange dress-code. These two girls were not that keen to have been photographed, perhaps cos they approach marriage age.

Another girl with a bit of a snow in her hand.

And that's a lost donkey. Sometimes they appear out of nowhere without a rider.

And all the seven lakes are quite impressive. This is the 4th.

And this is a village near the 5th lake. Living conditions over there resemble 19th century. The only modern things are electricity and cars.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Advert for a body-building hall.

A tuned zaporozhec (ZAZ), a rarity even in post-Soviet Central Asia.

Streets in Uzbekistan accompany a small open channels for waste water. If you are not careful at walking or crossing the street you might end up wet or with a broken leg. Some people have solved the problem of absent passes and created bridges out of old radiators. And this is not just one case, seen dozen of times.

A typical old town street in Samarkand. 

Registan - the main tourist attraction in Samarkand.

Urban planning disaster - a newly built pedestrian street that links Registan and the main market. They should not have done this.

Old moskvich. It is quite common to see a car carrying giant size items on the top of it.

Anti-alcohol and cigarettes propaganda at university.

Sometimes children playgrounds might be very scary in ex-USSR.

Daewoo Matiz - every Uzbeks dream car. They even got Daewoo as mobile network operator.

Soviet times ornaments and signs are easy to find in Samarkand.

The post in Uzbekistan uses the old Soviet times letter boxes.

Another symbol heavily used in Soviet times - Olympic rings and flame.

And another Soviet car collection - three Lada's and a moskvich.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Saturday, 25 September 2010


The cultural heritage is well integrated into the old town in Bukhara in South Uzbekistan. The city has the oldest madrassa in Central Asia, a spectacular minaret and many more must-see things. Perhaps the best place for a tourist to visit in Uzbekistan.

This is an interior at the main post office that is just a small room with furniture from the previous century.

This is a typical street in Bukhara.

And a typical old-town street. In one of those I found a small photo gallery run by Anzor Salidjanov. Google his name and you will find amazing work on people in Uzbekistan, especially local gypsies. He also represented Uzbekistan in the last Venice Biennale.

Donkeys are still a popular means of transportation also in a city like Bukhara. You can also easily spot sheep and goats that wander around the city streets.

This is a mobile shooting gallery and inside it you can see a school girl who is trying her luck with a gun.

The old Soviet soda vending machines are still spread throughout the city. In summer some of them have been put back to work. I wonder if they share out Coca-Cola nowadays...
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Friday, 24 September 2010


Soviet era monster - hotel Uzbekistan on the main spot in the town - Amir Timur square.

Most Uzbeks are Muslims and the state policy allow to sell strong alcohol only in special shops. This one looks like a typical grocery store, however they only sell spirits.

In dozens of ex-USSR towns one can find a street named after cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. In Tashkent there's also a monument for him.

Police and military personnel is quite present in Tashkent, but in most cases they tend not to offend tourists. Sometimes they are tourists themselves.

Lada or Zhiguli is still the most commonly seen car on the Tashkent streets with Daewoo Matiz as a runner-up.

Ladas everywhere...feels like early 1990s.

Dress-code for males is white shirt, a tie, black leather shoes and black trousers.

It feel some shops haven't changed their window lay-out for quite a few decades. Perhaps it's just the sense of style that has not changed.

Fruits in Uzbekistan are cheap. A melon costs around 0.40-0.50 $,  grapes around 0.40$ per kg, figs - 0.60 $ per kg. A 15 year-old brandy/cognac costs 7 $. Besides you need to carry a lot of money, cos the biggest banknote they have is 1000 sum that makes just 0.45 $ on black market (official rate is 1600 sum per dollar, while on the black market you can get 2200 sum for 1 $).

Tashkent has quite a few Soviet era relics, mainly in architecture. This coat of arms is quite unique - it's not the official Soviet Uzbekistan one, as instead of sickle and hammer it has axe and shovel. Suggestions of its origin are welcome.
All photos (c) Arnis Balcus