Tashkent Report


Back to Shanghai after a week in Tbilisi and a week in Tashkent. Old timer Jim Rogers has been making positive noises about Uzbekistan (https://www.youtube.com/shorts/3k0OHJk0Oec , https://www.youtube.com/shorts/GfJsG1OmoVM) and I wanted to take a look. I’d never been to Central Asia except a night in Almaty 5 years ago. This time I got bronchitis and spent my time exploring the medical system rather than the property market as planned; I cancelled a bullet train to Samarkand and just took it easy.

If there’s a Western expat scene in Tashkent it might be small or maybe I just didn’t see it. Lots of tourists from Central Asia, Russia, Japan, China. Lots of Chinese on business. Almaty is half Russian so I wasn’t surprised the city ran in Russian, but Tashkent is only 5% Russian, and it runs in Russian too. All signage and billboards are Uzbek, but if you don’t look Uzbek everyone addresses you in Russian except at 5-star hotels (and some even there). For reference, I don't look Russian. At the hospital the only doctor who spoke some English was a Turk. All blood test results and stuff were in Russian, no English available. You have to run it through the LLM yourself.

During the lockdowns I picked up 5000 words of Russian on <ulp> Duolingo as an experiment to learn a highly-inflected language without studying grammar. This was my first real-life use. During the week I took 30 taxi rides and chatted with the cabbies in bad (mine and theirs) Russian. I’d get in and say “Hello, Zdravstvuyte” to see if they preferred English or Russian. Of 30, two chose English. Non-Uzbeks (I had Korean and Dagestani drivers) generally spoke zero Uzbek. Even most Uzbeks had Yandex Taxi set to Russian. The Korean spoke no Korean, English, or Uzbek, only Russian. Jovial guy, two kids. I had just one Russian driver, and surprisingly he could speak Uzbek. Russians at the hotel couldn’t. The Russian level of the Uzbeks ranged from almost zero to fluent for answering simple questions like “45-minute drive to the Kazakh border and you’ve never been? Nothing to see there? Just like here?”

The women are friendly with a slight White God effect where they try to win you over for no reason other than you’re from a Western country. There’s some middle-aged women in Islamic dress, but there might not be much patrolling. My hotel was 1km from the biggest mosque in Tashkent so I walked over and it was quiet. Getting a local gf might be quite straightforward. The girls are all over the map phenotypically, some looking almost Han, almost Russian, or almost Turkish; Uzbeks seem quite variable. For men who’ve known NE Asian, SE Asian, Slav, Nordic, Med girls, etc., and are looking for something fresh, there are girls in Tashkent who look quite different. I suspect it’s not like Moscow or even Minsk where you can find a dozen 9s or 10s in one expensive club; the Intercontinental had an event with a bunch of 175cm model girls in long red dresses greeting guests and they were not super pretty—8s?--but the average girl seemed cuter than in Tbilisi or Yerevan. Uglier than Iran. I wondered if all the Uzbek hookers had to work in Dubai because of police action at home, but I did see one sign in Chinese in Tashkent as we drove by on the highway, and it was 足浴桑拿, so maybe not.

Tashkent may be a frontier market in the investment sense, but in terms of discomfort, there is none. The city feels big. There are new shopping malls as posh as anywhere. There’s mass-market French cuisine like Paul. There are Turkish kebab chains if you don’t want to get your kebab from a street vendor. There’s fast food like KFC and Costa Coffee. Supermarket produce is fresh if you want to cook. I had to switch hotels because the Internet was not reliable for work at the first, and you need to carry cash because foreign credit card settlement is glitchy, but everything is clean and safe. I got no hostile or bad vibrations from anyone. I plan to return in 2025--If you’ve had contrasting experiences, especially trouble, please share.


Very nice report, thanks for sharing. Pity that you got sick, hope you're doing better. Hope next time you can try the 足浴 places more thoroughly