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.
The hotel was a true run-down Uzbek guest house without running water in the bathroom and the dubious mix of guests who stay for an hour or so. Nevertheless, the price was attractive as the girls who stayed there and we decided to drink enough Vodka for dinner to be able to sleep.
Another noticeable feature in this hotel was the shared air-conditioning with the neighboring room. This was achieved by having a hole in the separation wall for placing the cooling device. Half of it would cool our room, the other half was for the room next to ours. We didn’t try what would happen, if we would unplug the mains (which were located in our room). But the hole in the wall provided entertainment with enough sound clarity that we did not need to switch on our television set (which probably did not function anyway).
However, discovering the city was quite fun. Some of the sites are the central downtown area where the locals walk along a park with a dozen of fountains during sunset. Another hangout seems to be the amusement park, located next to the bazaar.
There are some historic buildings, most of them Medressas, such as the Khoja Abdul Aziz Madrassah and the Rabiya Madrassah. As any other town of significance, Qarshi has also a World War II memorial and a crying mother monument. As it was Monday during our stay, we cannot comment on night clubs as they are all closed on that day. Nevertheless, there is a very good restaurant (serving very good Vodka): the “Appelsin” (Orange). Actually, this place made our stay worthwhile and we definitely recommend it to anyone “stranded” in Qarshi.
Uzbeks call cotton the “white gold” as this produce contributes significantly to their economy. Another “goldmine” is the natural gas production, which can be witnessed along many roads in the south.
Needless to say that many cars and buses run on this kind of fuel, which is extremely cheap. Most buses therefore have gas tanks strapped to their roof. And cars – who seem to have been converted to this fuel – have their gas tanks mostly in the boot. There is no problem in finding service stations providing this pressurized gas, but seeing drivers unloading luggage from the boot before being able to fuel their car is a most unusual sight.
Anyhow, we survived the hotel in Qarshi surprisingly well and were quickly back on the road through southern Uzbekistan. Again, we spent a lot of time bargaining for the next leg of our trip – but since this city is a major transport hub, finding a cheap transport was swift.