The underground Afghanistan border at Termiz

Islom and Rustam in front of the Fayaz Tepa

Any Uzbek would state in surprise “There is nothing to see in Termiz”, when you name this city as one of your travel stops. Well, the Chinese say the same about the city of Turpan, which is definitely one of the places I liked most in China. Experience therefore tells me to go and visit a place as soon as the locals tell you “there’s nothing to see”. And Termiz definitely is worth the journey if you are a fan of archaeological sites and historical ruins.

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The Qarshi Nexia

Another Madrasah at Qarshi

There are some roads less travelled in Uzbekistan. One of them took us to Qarshi, which is a small town, about 200km south of Bukhara. Usually tourists do not stop here as this city mostly serves as a southern transport hub connecting half a dozen cities. We went there by “Nexia” which is the casual term for “Shared Taxi” in Uzbekistan. The name is derived from the most common car for this kind of transport, the Daewoo Nexia. Sharing a taxi implies that you have to wait until the car is full (four persons, plus the driver). We bargained hard and therefore arrived late and tired in Qarshi. We decided to stay overnight and explore what was on hand.

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Uzbekistan reloaded: Smiling in a civil panic in Bukhara

On board Uzbekistan Airlines

The trip from Beijing to Tashkent on Uzbekistan Airways was the first flight on my journey. And it was a very comfortable trip on a brand new aircraft with a very friendly crew. Right after arrival in Tashkent, I ran through the usual administrative stuff: Getting local money and a local phone card. And a ticket for next day’s high-speed train to Bukhara. Then I settled savoring Uzbek Samsa’s which I bought off the street next to my hotel. And being able to buy the first sparkling water in months gave me a big feeling of comfort.

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Journey to the center of the earth: Beijing

Gymnastics in a park in Beijing

Back in Beijing, I had to wait almost a week to get the Uzbek visa processed. This gave me ample time to explore all the sights that are mentioned in the backpackers bible – the Lonely Planet guidebook. After trying in vain to find more sights in the French and Japanese guidebooks, I gave up. It seems that I have seen it all here. So I went exploring the city for some of the non-touristic sights, which means – for example – wandering around the Beijing Central Business District. Being off the tourist maps, it features some of wackiest modern buildings I have seen so far in Asia.

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