Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

Photos From Wendy’s Family Trip to the Silk Road

by Wendy Perrin | August 26, 2019

american tourists posing with dancers in traditional blue and white dress in Uzbekistan

We met this teen dance troupe in Khiva, where they were competing with young performers from other parts of Uzbekistan as part of the annual Melon Festival.

 

I’m just back from a trip to Central Asia that was packed with UNESCO World Heritage Sites that we had almost to ourselves and neighborhoods so unchanged for centuries—so relatively undeveloped for tourists—that it felt like we had traveled back in time.  The highlights of our Silk Road adventure were Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand—legendary cities that have been a crossroads of cultures for 2,500 years and today belong to the 28-year-old country of Uzbekistan.

The Uzbek people have a strong innate tradition of hospitality toward guests and see so few foreign visitors that, we found, travelers are a curiosity who are welcomed enthusiastically. Most of the tourists in Uzbekistan are from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, and South Korea, and the few visiting Americans tend to be on group tours, so the locals were especially thrilled to meet Americans (us) who were not in a group and on whom they could practice their English.  We were able to enjoy a variety of spontaneous surprises and fascinating encounters, simply because we were American.


I shot this video with my iPhone at a dress rehearsal for the International Music Festival that is taking place in the magnificent Registan Square in Samarkand, August 25 – 30, 2019.

As an example, one evening when we were people-watching outside the Registan in Samarkand, we and other foreigners standing there were suddenly invited into a special seating area inside the Registan to watch a dress rehearsal for this week’s International Music Festival (see video above).   On another evening, also in Samarkand, we were walking home from dinner and passed by a reception hall with a party going on; some partygoers spotted us and invited us inside, where we were wined and dined and treated as honored guests, just because we were Americans in their country.  Below you’ll find photos and videos of these highlights and more, taken from my Instagram feed.  Be sure to click on the audio icon in the videos, so that you hear the music we did!

Anyone who thinks Uzbekistan might not be safe for travelers or friendly toward Americans simply hasn’t been there and experienced it for themselves.  Our trip was arranged by the Silk Road travel specialist on my WOW List, Zulya Rajabova. Zulya grew up in Uzbekistan and worked as an interpreter and guide there for visiting heads of state before starting her U.S.-based travel company.  If you would like a trip like mine, I recommend reaching out to her via this questionnaire, so that she knows I sent you and you’re recognized as a VIP  traveler, and so that I can follow your trip-planning process and advise you along the way.

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Wendy family dinner Bukhara old town square Uzbekistan

This is our favorite spot in the ancient Silk Road city of Bukhara. Lyabi Hauz is the Old Town’s main square, built in 1620 around a pond lined with mulberry trees. It’s such a lively, peaceful, joyful, thoroughly local scene.

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Transparency disclosure:  While my family paid for our airfare to Uzbekistan, most of our travel arrangements on the ground once we arrived were complimentary, thanks to Zulya Rajabova’s connections there.  In keeping with WendyPerrin.com standard practice, there was no request for or expectation of coverage on her part, nor was anything promised on mine. Zulya had been trying to show me her homeland for seven years, and I finally said yes!   Read your fellow paying travelers’ reviews of Zulya’s trips here.

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