What You Should Know Before You Go To Uzbekistan

I was in Uzbekistan in 2014.And I must say that it was an extraordinary experience that no matter how hard it was sometimes, wouldn’t want to miss.
A big thank you to Mr Uwe Kraffert and Susanne Jäkel (the woman who made everything possible).
So first let’s gather some general information about this huge country.
Uzbekistan is in Centralasia and secularistic but still mostly muslim country.
The culture is a mix between old arabic traditions and a communistic way of thinking.
It is like the Sowjet Union would still exist.
Apart from Liechtenstein, Uzbekistan is the only landlocked country in the world. the neighboring countries are Kazachstan, Afghanistan, Kyrgisistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Almost 80% is desert or steppe. The capital city is Tashkent.
There is so much more to know, but I think that’s enough for now.
If you want to find out you could go there or google it. Or if you’d like I could write an article about Uzbekistan-don’t hesitate to share your opinion in the comments below!
But  I thought there might be a couple of things that you should know if you are planning to go.So here we go!

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First of all:
Be prepared to eat a lot. Be prepared to eat a lot more meat than a normal human could possibly eat in one day.
Actually right now, I wonder why I am always thinking of food first, but I guess food is important and that’s just in my family.
Everyone in my family thinks about food first. But food is good and food is fun. So that’s kind of cool.
So let’s get back to the food in Uzebkistan. The thing that I did when I was there, was skipping food whenever I could, plus drinking tea whenever it was offered.
The Uzbeks are extremely proud people and also super hospitable. When you visit an Usbek at home, you can be sure that they offer you all the best that they have.
For them, it is more than just impolite if the table is not completely covered with food.
You get all kinds of sweets and salads and different meat dishes. When you see it the first time, all you want to do is to eat all of it.
But be careful! Our bodies are not used to that kind of food and especially not to the amount of animal fat that they eat every day.
They love to give presents, so even if you feel that it is not right to take from people that are that poor, accept this kindness instead of insulting them.

The next thing you should know, is that men are the top of everything there.
You MUST stand up when a man is entering the room and especially when this man is from an older generation.
You have to face the fact, that as a woman, you are subordinate.
As a woman you serve the food, you walk behind the man and you don’t start a discussion with a man.
If you don’t want to get in trouble just stay still. I know the stupid comments and the behavior is annoying, but starting a fight can have a really bad ending.
This is even more important when you don’t have an Uzbek with you, who can explain that you are a tourist and didn’t mean to be rude or disrespectful.

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One more thing you should be prepared for, is the heat.
You don’t really feel that it is super hot, because they don’t have a high humidity. But you still got to be careful- the sun is literally burning.
So it’s good to cover your skin. Not only in suncream but also in clothes.
Women have to do that in general, but for men it makes sense too.

Also you should know that the Uzbeks are pretty isolated from the western world.
So they feel insulted when you’re telling them that democracies need elections or that maybe some things don’t make sense at all.
Don’t question arranged marriages for example. Or the old-fashioned role allocation.
Also girls aren’t allowed to leave the house in the evening or when it’s dark and also they aren’t allowed to watch Hollywood movies or movies where people kiss each other. So all that you will get is cartoons, Uzbek movies and Bollywood!

Another thing is, the fact that they feel very modern and so don’t show off with your latest iPhone or complain when there is no internet. Giving them the feeling that you are superior because you live a more modern life is just disrespectful and causes trouble.

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One more thing is, that they have another sense of what is disrespectful to us.
They are different when it comes to privacy- so don’t be mad if the don’t really care about closed doors.
Moreover they sometimes just take or use your things without asking, please don’t feel insulted by that. I know it’s annoying, but they don’t mean to be disrespectful. They simply don’t see that they are going a little too far.
The point that we get more than they do is a good explanation for them why they should have the right to enjoy your stuff too. Plus they also share and give everything and expect you to do the same.

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Another thing that was a little difficult were the health facilities.
A couple of my friends had to use an outhouse and I showered with a huge bucket of more or less cold water.
Plus the use of fridges is not too common, so you have to be careful when they serve you milk or eggs. And as they eat very traditional, milk and eggs are very important for them. A typical breakfast is for example bread, honey, eggs sunny- side up with pieces of beef and fresh milk. (The honey is delicious!!)

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Well in general you could say, that the cultural differences are huge, so you have to be careful and uncomplicated. Be open for everything and don’t feel insulted, they don’t mean to be rude.
If I can think of anything more you should keep in mind before you go, I’ll let you know. Also if you have questions, I would love to answer them.
And tell me if you want to hear more about my trip to this very special and beautiful country.

See you soon!

 

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