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  • We had a really good time in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kashgar. All guides, drivers, accommodation and food was fantastic! We had plenty of positive experiences. The program worked perfectly and we are your happy customers.
    Assoc Prof Regine Wagner
    Visiting Fellow Flexible Learning Institute Charles Sturt University

  • We have had many guides in the course of our world travels, but never ever one any better than the guide from Roxana Tour He worked tirelessly for us night and day. His efforts for us were far beyond what would have been "good".
    Dr. Paul Hettinger
    Orlando, FL, USA 32818

  • I have been coming to Uzbekistan for 32 years and as a Tour leader for different companies, I can say that Roxana Tours is the best travel company in Uzbekistan I had in 32 years.
    Gary Wintz, LA
    Tour leader from ZOE and Mountain Sabeck

  • I wanted to drop you a quick e-mail thanking you for the outstanding tour you provided. From the time we arrived at Tashkent until we left, we had no problems and everything was first class.
    Richard L. Wolfel, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Geography
    United States Military Academy
    West Point, NY 10996

  • I am indeed impressed and would like to Thank you from the bottom of my heart, in fact you have not only gained my respect and admiration, I salute your efficiency, not to say the least, I am grateful I am sure I would not be traveling again to Uzbekistan without you definitely involved in my itinerary.
    Saud A.Al Jaidah
    CEO/ Al Jaidah Intl. Doha, Qatar

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A plate of plov along with the ubiquitous naan (bread).

 

 
Since we’re on the subject of food, let’s talk a little more about what Uzbeks like to eat.
 
When I was in the Peace Corps, one of the questions that I would get from time to time was, “What is your national dish?” Hmmm. It's a good question, but in the U.S.A. we really don’t have a national dish, especially when you look at it from an Uzbek perspective. We have so many different nationalities in America that the answer to this question would depend upon who you asked. Some people might say tacos, others might say spaghetti, and someone else might say hamburgers, and on and on and on.
 
On the other hand, ask any Uzbek the same question and the answer invariably will be “plov.” Served at every important social event and holiday, plov is the main course and is typically made with rice, pieces of meat, grated carrots, and onions. As you travel from Khiva to Ferghana, you will notice that there are regional variations to this dish that are usually based upon the local agriculture. In the end, the result is always delicious!
 
When I returned to the States, I wanted to test my skills as a chef to make this tasty dish. I followed the instructions that my Uzbek mom gave me and added the correct amount of herbs and spices necessary to give it that perfect taste. However, my results didn’t come close to what I’d remembered it to be. I stared at the pot on the stove trying to figure out what went wrong. And then it hit me. I didn’t have the correct type of pot! Uzbeks use a special one that’s made of cast-iron called a kazan. The kazan can come in many different sizes, but it is invariably black or silver. While it’s easy to find a lid made of metal, the true masters will tell you that a wooden lid is the best to use. Now, I’m not a scientist, so I can’t tell you the reasons why it’s necessary to use the kazan over other pots. All I can tell you is that it isn’t plov unless you use the kazan.
 
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Here’s an Uzbek woman preparing plov using a kazan.
 

When you get to Uzbekistan, make sure that you sample the plov. Uzbeks take great pride in this dish and for all the right reasons. My wife and I reminisce about it from time to time, and we hope to return to the land where the plov is made the right way. I’ve never met a bowl of plov that I didn’t like and I’m quite certain that once you try it you will feel the same way, too!

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 I remember when I was a kid growing up in Michigan in the 1970s and my grandfather decided to grow watermelons in his garden. When they were harvested in August, we would have a backyard cook-out and they were eaten for dessert. Being that it was my first taste of them, I wasn’t overly impressed and decided I wouldn’t miss them if they never appeared on my plate again.

Now, fast-forward to September 1997 and my first visit to Uzbekistan. Since it was my first experience of living in another part of the world, there were many new things to take in and frankly, I was overwhelmed at times, too. Fortunately, my timing couldn’t have been better as I was there in the middle of the melon harvest.

While Uzbeks are humble people and are not prone to brag, one issue that they can’t contain was the pride they took in their melons. “You’ve got to try this”, my Uzbek brother said as he placed a plate full of melons in front of me. “These are the best melons in the world!” he proclaimed. I thought to myself, “How many times have I heard this.” The skeptic in me was in full force.
Needless to say, it was love at first bite and I haven’t had a melon since then that was as tasty as the ones I ate in Uzbekistan. I can’t recall a meal during my years in Uzbekistan where melons weren’t on the table, whether it was a quiet family dinner or a huge wedding party. Truly, my favorite memories of living in Uzbekistan was sitting on the tapchan and eating the delicious fruit with my host family in the Ferghana Valley.

And even more amazing was the variety of melons that are available, and that each one has its own particular taste. Today, there are more than 160 varieties and some of them have gained world-wide popularity. Of course, I’m partial to the ones grown in the Ferghana Valley, but I can’t help stating the truth! Just remember that no trip to Uzbekistan can be termed successful until you’ve tried the melons. The traveler can find delicious melons at any bazaar or roadside stand throughout Uzbekistan. When you get here, just ask your driver to stop the car when you see them for sale on the road.

On second thought, you probably won’t have to ask him; he’ll already know what to do.


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 Before I came to Uzbekistan in 1997 as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I knew very little about the country or, in fact, the entire region. Since it was the early days of the internet, there wasn't as much information available like there is today. So, this meant that I had to hustle down to the library to get all the books I could find and read as much as I could. It goes without saying that it didn't take long for me to give myself a tremendous boost of knowledge in the region’s geography, history, demographics, and politics.

Before I got to the library, I had heard about the Great Silk Road and the important role it played in the world’s nascent economic development. Stretching from China to Europe, this network of roads brought economic prosperity to the many villages, towns, and cities where it reached. But not only were goods exchanged between traders. Ideas, philosophies, innovations, and religions were exchanged, too.

Over the centuries, the Great Silk Road lost its dominance over the world’s economy due to political instability, disease, and improvements to maritime navigation. Since then, misunderstandings and misconceptions have replaced what role this network played in the world's history. As a primer, I’d like to introduce you to seven myths that have followed the Great Silk Road over the centuries since its demise.

 Myth #1: The Great Silk Road was a single stretch of road.
This is a very common misunderstanding that many people fall victim. While the general direction of it was east-west, there were many tributaries that ran north and south, too. One of the most famous routes that still exist today is the Karakoram Highway that stretches from western China to Pakistan. Furthermore, some modern scholars have suggested that there were maritime routes that could be considered a part of the Great Silk Road, too!

Myth #2: It is called the Great Silk Road because silk was the only commodity that was transported to Europe.
While silk was the chief commodity, there were other products that interested westerners, too. They included: satin, musk and other perfumes, spices, medicines, jewels, glassware, slaves, and even rhubarb. The east was fascinated with gold, silver, cosmetics, amber, and ceramics. As I mentioned earlier, ideas, innovations, and religions traveled in both directions.

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 Myth #3: The Great Silk Road is only about 2,000 years old.
While the Road is at least 2,000 years old, recent archaeological investigations have shown that it was being used in pre-historic times. Some scholars have suggested that the road could be 3,000 years old!

Myth #4: Trading along the Great Silk Road declined because it was too dangerous.
Trading along the Great Silk Road was always dangerous. Not only did the caravans have to deal with the harsh climate of the desert, it had to protect itself from thieves and wild animals. What really brought the decline of its use was the advent of improved navigational tools on the seas. Shipping was considered a much safer option, but it was faster, too.

Myth #5: Chinese mummies have been recently discovered along the Great Silk Road.
In 1934 in Loulan (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) Folke Bergman first explored the burial grounds, but it was “rediscovered” in 2000 by the Xinjiang Archaeological Institute. At this site, archaeologists uncovered the mummified remains of people who had Caucasian features.

Myth #6: The silk trade between the east and west started only after the Great Silk Road was opened.
In those days, there really wasn’t an opening ceremony to herald the beginning of a new international economic cooperative event. What probably happened is that it came into being piecemeal, meaning that a particular region’s government would be able to provide enough security for a stretch of the road to allow trade to flourish. As neighboring regions saw the economic benefits of a secured trade route, they would take necessary measures to secure their section until the road lost its effectiveness in the 15th century. Further evidence of trade taking place before the Great Silk Road “opened” was the discovery of a female, Egyptian mummy in Thebes wearing silk; she was dated in 1070 B.C. and probably is the earliest evidence of silk in the west.

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Myth #7: Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) was the first westerner to travel the Great Silk Road and visit the Mongolian Empire.
Marco Polo did travel along the Great Silk Road and yes, he did visit the Mongolian Empire, but most likely he was not the first westerner to travel on it. While there were many westerners who made the trip before Polo, he was the first to leave an account of his travels in a book. So what lesson can we derive from Myth #7? Keep a journal of your travels when you come visit us so your ancestors can read about it - like Marco Polo did!

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 Roxana Tour offers all types of itineraries to fit your interests. From extreme tourism for the adventurous to ornithological and entomological tours for naturalists, we can make your trip the prize of a lifetime. With that said, our architectural tour has proven to be among the more popular tours that we provide. And there are plenty of reasons why this is true.

Architecture in Central Asia provides an historical imprint of the region through the centuries. As you travel throughout the country you will witness evidence of Persian, Chinese, Islamic, tsarist, Soviet Union, and modern examples that will satisfy any student of architecture.

An ancient example of Persian architecture is the Ayaz Kala in Karakalpakstan. These three kalas (forts) were built between the 4th century B.C. and the 2nd century A.D. Sunset is the best time to photograph these wonders!

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While the Islam Khodja minaret was built in the early 20th century, it is a perfect example of Persian architecture from the 14th century. A view of it from one of the narrow streets in Khiva can be seen below:

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The heart of ancient Samarkand, the Registan, is perhaps the most famous example of architecture along the Great Silk Road. The Registan is a complex of three madrasahs that were built between the 15th and 17th centuries. The frame that the madrasahs provided formed a plaza for citizens of the Timurid Dynasty to gather and hear royal proclamations and witness the execution of the law. A photo of this jewel is below:

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An example of tsarist architecture can be viewed in Tashkent, where the Prince Romanov Palace was built in 1891. Set in the heart of the city, Prince Romanov lived there with his wife until 1917 when it was converted to a museum. Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs uses it for receptions with foreign dignitaries.

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A fine example of modern Uzbek architecture is the Oliy Majlis, the location of the parliament. Completed in 1997, this building utilized glass as a departure from previous architectural styles, but retained its cultural identity by placing a blue dome on the top.

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All of these examples only provide a brief glimpse of architecture in Uzbekistan. There are numerous other historical buildings throughout the country that will be sure to sate your appetite for these wondrous treasures!



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Of particular interest to historians around the world is Alexander the Great. His impact on Central Asia has been well documented, and for the many years that I lived there I learned that people are still talking about him to this day. From his home country of Macedonia, this conqueror made his way eastward to Central Asia. Most infamously, he killed Cleitus the Black – man who had once saved his life – during a drunken brawl in Samarkand. Much of this dispute was rooted in his troops’ aversion to Alexander’s adoption of various aspects of Persian culture. But this did not deter him from marrying the daughter of a Bactrian baron in 327 B.C. Her name was Roxana, who is the namesake for Roxana Tour. A painting of her can be seen below.

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Roxana was 16 years old when she married Alexander and their union produced a son, Alexander IV Aegus. This boy, therefore, was the legitimate heir to the throne after Alexander died in 323 B.C. Political transitions were a bloody affair in those days, and it wasn't any different for this mother-son duo. After a series of murders of their political rivals, Roxana’s luck ran out when her protector, Alexander’s mother, was assassinated in 316 B.C. This opened the door for Cassander to claim his right to the throne and he murdered Roxana and her son in 310 B.C.


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Unfortunately, Uzbekistan does not have a huge media machine that can pump out their good stories to the world. For the most part, this leaves them at the mercy of visiting many journalists who seem to have a talent for finding only the bad things. To the contrary, my experiences in Uzbekistan have taught me the opposite of what the journalists have to write.
 
Time after time, I had the opportunity to meet Uzbeks from all every level of their society; from the highest levels of government to the farmers working in the middle of nowhere working hard to provide for their families. In each case, I was overwhelmed by their friendliness and hospitality. These acts of kindness on their part had a huge impact on me and my perspective on life.
 
This is why I want to be part of something that is bigger than me. I want people to go to Central Asia and experience the goodness that I was fortunate to receive. I guarantee that your life will change for the better once you have visited and experienced this ancient culture.


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I started my experiences with Uzbekistan in 1997. That was the year I joined the U.S. Peace Corps as an English language teacher. I admit that I didn’t know much about the place before I went there, but that was exactly what I was looking for before I joined. I wanted to work somewhere that was off the beaten path and would provide me with new experiences and in a place that few westerners had been before. Certainly, this much was achieved! I lived in the Ferghana Valley in a small town called Kuvasoy, which is located on the border with Kyrgyzstan. And it was here that I gained a strong appreciation and love for the people who live in this part of the world.


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Hello friends and neighbors!

This blog is going to help you understand just what to expect when you travel to Central Asia. I've lived there for the most part over 15 years, so I can provide you with all of the inside information you’ll ever need to help you make the right decision on which itinerary will fit you best. Not only that, we've got a team of specialists based in Tashkent that are poised to help you, too! So stayed tuned to this blog in the future for the latest information and special deals!


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Would you like to get inside the setting a fascinating oriental tale? To see the turquoise domes of ancient mosques, madrasahs, palaces and minarets all around ?

To contemplate exquisite frescoes and mosaics on their walls?

Would you like to find yourself in the very heart of the world-famous Great Silk Road, trodden by the legendary Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane?

Would you ever dream that the tales told by the beautiful Shakherezade from "1001 Nights" should become a reality?

If your answer is "yes", Roxana Tour will arrange for you to go on an exciting trip to Uzbekistan - the real gem of Central Asia.


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