The underground Afghanistan border at Termiz

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.

Kyrk Kyz

Located in a very strategic location, the initial settlement of Termiz is believed to have started about 500 BC. But the actual foundation of the city is usually considered to have taken place under Alexander the Great. Therefore, some historians identify Termiz as a possible site of one of the Alexandrias.

The sites we visited were Fayaz Tepa (ancient settlement), ancient Termiz city, the Zurmala Stupa (buddhist monument), Kyrk Kyz (fort), Sultan Saodat (medresa), the Kokildara (medresa) and the downtown Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox church. The archeological museum downtown Termiz is – according to the Lonely Planet guidebook – worth alone the visit to Termiz. We were impressed, but as we do not like too much museums, Rustam and I left the place after an hour or so. To sum up, there is a lot to see in Termiz.

Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox church

During the war in Afghanistan, the Soviet troops were based in Termiz. Nowadays, the German and Dutch forces who are operating in Afghanistan use the city’s airbase. Most of the people in Termiz therefore are used to soldiers who spend their money during week-ends in bars and night clubs.

We checked out two notable locations: The outdoor club on the rooftop of the “Meridian” hotel. The other one was the “Flamingo”, located downtown. The latter one had a sound level which was beyond legal limits in Europe and our ears were still ringing next day. Especially annoying was their DJ – a woman who would love to do a high pitch screech at a Jumbo Jet’s volume level every two or three minutes. But the place definitely belongs to the locals and I only got in because of my Uzbek travel companions.

Tunnel under the river leading to Afghanistan

Next to Termiz – on the other side of the Amu Darza river – lies Afghanistan. Until a couple of years ago, there was a tunnel crossing the border below the river. Starting in the old town of Termiz. Unfortunately it collapsed and what remains serves now as prayer location for Muslim women.

Given the world’s geopolitics, we also wondered how this tunnel would operate in todays conditions. Since nearby Afghanistan serves as a major hub for drugs, Uzbek police checks within Termiz and from/to the city are thorough. In fact, on the road to Termiz I was asked – for the first time – to present all my registration forms proving where I stayed overnight. Although all tourists are used to get these forms upon check-out at the hotel, it is very unusual that any policemen actually ask for them.

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