Saturday, 27 August 2011

Money, Money Money, and the Chorzu Bazaar

The Uzbek Sum is a curious animal. Changing money into the local currency is something of a ritual here as the largest note is 1000 Sum and is equal to around 0.4 Euro. So you inevitably end up feeling extremely rich with wads of cash stashed in your bag.

After sorting out the finances, Julji, Reudi, Rene and I headed off to Chorzu Bazaar. Every car in Tashkent is a taxi - or so it seems. You just put your hand out and a car pulls up. You need to negotiate the price before you leave, and forget about a map and street names as nobody knows the names of streets. You need only orientation points - so if you don't know them already you wont be able to tell the driver where to go. Even the name of the hotel I'm staying in is unknown to taxi drivers - except by the name it had ten years ago.

Our taxi driver is chatty and animated as I photograph him driving towards the market.

The bazaar is huge. Rene takes us through the alleys leading to one of the main buildings. Its crowded early afternoon, and inside the domed building is an incredible array of food and vegetables.

People are very friendly, happy to have their picture taken, offer samples of food at every step from roasted almonds in their shells and raisins, to apricots pistachios and dates.

There is too much to take in on this first walkabout and as the sun is going down we head over to the snail building - a spiraling tower near the bazaar to take in the Tashkent skyline before sunset.