Tashkent Travel Blog› entry 1 of 6 › view all entries
My first impression of Tashkent was that it was surprisingly modern and huge. As the flight from Osaka descended over the Uzbek capital, one could see a sprawling metropolis that was a stark contrast to the earlier views from the aircraft. We flew over some of the harshest landscapes on the planet on our way from Japan to Uzbekistan, including the Taklamakan desert and the Tianshan. So, it was refreshing to find a metropolis criss-crossed with wide avenues and patched with large green areas.
On the ground level, Tashkent exudes a distinct Soviet feel, most of its buildings having been built during the Soviet era. It feels very much like a middle-sized Russian city, complete with Metro and tram.
But there are, of course, many differences. Tashkent does not have much of nightlife compared with the Russian cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. In fact, the city is half dead after 8 pm. All the traffic signs are in Uzbek and are written using Latin alphabet. The food is different, even though there are elements of Russian influences like salads. And there seemed to be quite a few people adding traditional accessories to their modern outfits, such as the doppi (a four-cornered cap for men) and colourful scarves with traditional patterns (which are different from the Paranji, which has religious implications).
Tashkent does not have the romanticism associated with the Silk Road, but it does give the visitor a sense that it is very much at the crossroad between the East and the West because of its multicultural inhabitants.