Tuesday, 2 September 2014

If your country is doubly landlocked, make your own sea! (well, lake)

Anyone who knows me well, or has at least come across me two or three times, will know that I am very, very open. Sometimes too open. Sometimes, people stop eating after I’ve finished talking because what I have said has made them want to regurgitate. So I will just warn anyone reading this that the next few sentences might contain a little too much information. Let’s just say that Uzbek food has not been friendly to me. I like to eat it, but apparently I don’t like to digest it. So when I was invited last weekend to see Charvak, a manmade lake in the mountains not far from Tashkent, I was a little worried about potential in-car catastrophes.

Here is a camel to take your mind off that.

Luckily, an all-rice diet for two days had set me just about right, so I got into a car with some of my lovely colleagues and we drove for a couple of hours out of the city. Tashkent seems to go on forever; eventually it dwindles into smaller villages where everything is sold by the side of the road and camels chill under the trees. I don’t know if anyone else has ever played on Golden Sun 2 on Gameboy Advance, but when the mountains appeared in front of us, they reminded me of some of the mountains on that. They were yellow, brown and dry and hairy. But utterly stunning.

So mountainous!

We went to a little viewpoint above the lake to take photos in every combination of the four of us possible, and then drove down to a little resort. It turned out that going for a swim in the nearest lake to Tashkent on a sunny Sunday wasn’t exactly an original idea, so the only option was to park the car a little way away from the lake and fight our way down through many cars, getting beeped at by just about everything except pedestrians. It was so busy that we saw three cars cuddled up under a tree, hiding from the sun.

I wasn’t expecting the lake to have a beach, and although it was not much like any beaches I had seen before, it was definitely a beach. It was mostly made up of pebbles, but when we waded into the water, the ground was soft and sticky. It was rather pleasant while mildly worrying. So we jumped in and swam around for a little while, admiring the murkiness from all the other people’s sweat and the oil from jet-skis. It turned out that a man on the beach who was running speedboat rides actually knew two of our group, so he offered to get someone to drive us around the lake. We took pictures of the mountains from every angle, blasting out the europop and Uzbek classics while a little boy showed off his sick moves. Pretty jammy.

"WHAT IF I FALL OUT OF THE BACK OF THE BOAT AND DIE????" - my brain while this photo was being taken.

The evening finished with a gorgeous meal on one of those benches where you have your feet up and the table is really little. I’m sure there’s a much more elegant name for that, but I have yet to learn it. Feel free to share if you want to fight my ignorance. The meal was delicious, but I was encouraged to try a salty milk drink. The two Uzbeks kept telling us “it’s just a runnier version of the salty yoghurt you’re dipping your cucumber in!” which I think is a very fair point. On the other hand, I was only dipping things into it, not watering down the yoghurt and drinking it.

Here are some lovely pictures.


  1. Your delicious yoghurt drink is called Ayran! THere are many variations so dont assume they are all nice as some taste a little too "cowy!" I love this blog and I live here!!!!

  2. This table is called "dastarkhan". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dastarkh%C4%81n
    Keep writing!

    1. Thanks very much! It was frustrating to just call it a 'table thing' :)