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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Uzbekistan - 12 August, 2002



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Fergana (Ziyorat Hotel) N4023.240' E07147.450' 589 meters .
Margilan . . . .
Kuva . . . .
Finish Fergana (Ziyorat Hotel) N4023.240' E07147.450' 589 meters 80 km


416 km


Weather: Clear, sunny and very hot.  Hot/warm at night.



It seems like we are starting off this trip with good shopping opportunities.  Today we will be heading to Margilan, a nearby town to check out the silk factory there.  But first we have breakfast in the hotel.  A couple of local thin pancakes (we put local jam or honey on top), the typical Nan bread (very yummy), tea and some sour yogurt.  We head off shortly after 8:30 AM and arrive at the silk factory called Yodgorlik in Magilan about half an hour later.  The production of silk dates back a long time here - since at least 4th century BC.  At this factory they still use the old, traditional methods.


What we do not get to see is the actual harvesting of the silk from the cocoons that are woven by grubs.  The government hands out 20 grams of grubs to whoever wants them.  The farmers husband them and they start to grow - soon they will eat over 300 kgs of mulberry leaves per day.  This is hard work for the farmers.  In the end, they typically sell back to the government 80 to 120 kgs of cocoons at about US$1 to US$2 per kg.  The grubs are killed by steaming (otherwise they will break out of the cocoon and ruin the silk fiber) and about 1 km of silk filament is unwound by hand from the cocoon - this is painstaking work.  We did not get to see this, however, as it is not the season.


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What we did get to see was the process in which they wove the silk threads into silk fiber, which included spinning this huge loom and then stretching the threads around two poles (which included spitting water on it so that it was easier to handle. From there it was sent to the master designer (who has done this for years), who would mark the silk for the people who would dye it.  This was a simple process of tying the bundles and then dipping them into natural dyes.


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Then we got to the weavers.  These ladies did amazing work.  They worked really fast at looms with up to eight peddles which they worked with incredible speed.  They made Uzbek Som 140 (a bit more than 10 US cents) per meter and they could weave up to five meters per day.


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Then we went to visit the silk carpet weavers.  This was painstaking work and my eyes hurt just looking.  They made about Uzbek Som 800 per day and wove about one centimeter per day.  But is it is important to note that the factory does provide many other things, such as two meals a day and pays for electricity and other things.  We finished off with some shopping in the factory store.  Things were a bargain and we had to pick some things up (but we did not want to get too much at the start of the trip, so we controlled ourselves (which we may regret later on, but ....).


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The rest of the morning was spent at the nearby town of Kuva, where we checked out some archeological ruins.  They date way back and include some Buddha stuppas which are now in St. Petersburg.  The ruins are not too well conserved.  There is a huge statue of Ulughbek, an intellect of the 1400's.  He opened the doors of Samarkand's greatest Islamic "university" and did lots of astronomy work (he discovered 200 new stars and predicted an eclipse) and, as our guide claimed, invented the metric system. We finished off with the local museum, where the most interesting things were the old picture albums with photos of Gorbachov visiting, visits to car factories, a trip to Moscow by local officials, young boys wrestling, etc.  The only other thing to mention about this place is that, so far, it has the worst toilet on the trip.


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After finishing off there, we headed back to the hotel and did our own thing in the afternoon.  A bunch of us headed to the local bazaar (market) and this turned out to be quite an experience.  We first went to get some food and had a light snack.  The locals started to take an interest in us and as we seemed to be friendly, the interaction increased.  They were amazingly friendly (apparently not too many tourists come here, so it has not yet been spoiled).  The people at the cigarette stand bought us some drinks (they refused to take any money).


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Lars' ran back to the hotel and got his Polaroid camera and this was a big hit.  We took a few pictures, but had to turn down lots of other requests (otherwise we would run out of film).  We then finished off our lunch.  We ordered a bowl of rice and some more of the deep fried rolls filled with chick peas (which we smothered with chili sauce) that we had already had earlier.


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Then then invited us to sit down inside a room with some tables and chairs.  We were surrounded by people.  They brought us some melon to eat.  Then some tea.  This was followed by some samosa type pastries.  Finally they brought in some more of the deep fried rolls.  They would take no money for any of it.  We spend a good hour eating and interacting with the locals.  They loved it when we took pictures of them (and they did not want anything).


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We said thank you and good bye and then wandered through the market.  We were followed all around the market by a crowd that would come and go.  The stall keepers would keep offering us stuff to try.  They loved to have their pictures taken.  Some people wanted to practice their English.  The market was filled with all types of food.  The melons were huge (and good).  We bought some excellent nuts.  An old lady asked us to sample her raspberries (there were piles of them everywhere).  It was a wonderful time in the market.  This is the type of interaction we came to Central Asia for (it has not yet been spoiled by too many tourists).


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Our constant companions as we wandered through the market were four very young girls we would have to say that they were street urchins).  They were very friendly and never asked for anything.  As we left the market and walked towards the park, they followed us.  They picked up a baby and a young boy along the way.  They were good company - very well behaved and very cheerful.  They loved having their picture taken.  We saw some boys sliding down a concrete slope in the local river - they loved having their picture taken.  In the square we found a statue of the same guy as this morning, and then turned back.  Before arriving back at the hotel, we stopped at a store for a drink and bought the children some ice cream.  They were very happy.  We said our good byes as they were enjoying it.


Back at the hotel, we took a rest, worked on our journals and had  a shower.  It is hot here.  Then at 6:30 PM we had group meeting to fill out forms (we will be crossing into Kyrgyzstan tomorrow), assign jobs and cook groups and go through the plan for the next two weeks.  Then off to dinner.


Some of us try to find a Korean restaurant that has been suggested to us.  We wander up and down a number of streets that are getting progressively darker, but no luck.  People try to help us find our way, but communications is failing.  There is the language barrier.  In the end, we end up at the same place as last night.  After dinner, we check out a local outdoor cafe that is playing music, but it does not seem to interesting, so we head back to the hotel for bed.  We might as well have stayed up - the music blares until midnight and we have trouble falling asleep.


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