Gary and Paula Christensen - September 2023
Dear Zulya Rajabova,
Thank you for providing the expertise of you and your guides as we explored Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Our objectives were to learn about the Silk Road, the culture of each of the “Stans”, the history of the region, the influence of religion on the region, and the people who live in this amazing part of our planet. Through the talents of you and your Silk Road Treasure Tours staff, our expectations were exceeded on all counts! The guides you provided had extensive knowledge in all of the areas in which we had an interest. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with our guides, both while touring and while sharing our meals together. We particularly enjoyed the time in the mountains of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as in the desert of Uzbekistan. Seeing the camels roaming around the desert was awesome! In addition, the people we met in each country were inviting and interested in telling us about their country. While communication was sometimes challenging, people were patient with us and the guides incredibly helpful.
As to logistics, the drivers provided were top notch. While we have driven in many countries around the globe, Central Asia is NOT an area where I would even imagine driving myself. The patience and calm demeanor of the drivers made our journey very pleasant, even when the traffic around us was bonkers! The lodging in which we stayed varied from large chain hotels to small boutique B&Bs. While vastly different, each had its own unique character, and I would recommend every one of them. As to the food, we loved seeing the families enjoying the nightlife in the restaurants; seeing the young children dancing to the music reverberating throughout the venues was a joy a joy for both of us! Further, we enjoyed the food as was quite different from our normal diet. It also became clear to us very early on that we were not going to go hungry as the guides were very generous in ensuring we had more than enough to eat.
All in all, our journey of slightly over two weeks was amazing. We returned with a better understanding of the region, but also with a realization that there is so much more to learn. I would highly recommend to other travelers that they read about the history of the region (e.g., about Tamerlane, the various conquests of the region, and the Great Game) before embarking on their trip. It will make the experience so much richer and will allow the traveler to put what they learn in context much more quickly than if they read only the guidebooks. I also suggest that the guides and travelers review the high-level importance and context of each day’s sights before beginning their day. At times the number of khans, emirs and other important figures spanning such an extensive period can get confusing in the moment of looking at a given historical site.
Finally, we enjoyed meeting you and your family. Your mother and father were sweet and a model for all of us as we interacted with people from other parts of the world. The hospitality shown by you and your family is something we will never forget. As I said at lunch, you should be very proud of the efforts you have undertaken to bring an awareness and understanding of Uzbekistan and Central Asia to people from outside the region.
September 2023, Minnesota, USA, Gary and Paula Christensen, Minnesota, USA