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My marvellous stay in a chaikhana :-)
As already described in my intro, it was difficult to find a place to sleep in Khokand (when I was there, in August 2006, it might have changed by now).
There is one hotel, yes, and LP describes it as having filthy rooms which are “literally infested with cockroaches”. Well, even if I am considering myself as hardcore traveller, I am not quite fond of sharing my sleep with the roaches. I checked with a taxi driver (note: taxi drivers are nice in Khokand, as opposed to in the more famous Uzbek cities), and he showed me a room of a friend, who was just starting to renovate a house for being hotel as well. Same story here. Finally I ended up in a chaikhana, just to get some rest, have tea and consult with the owner and his friends, which were sitting there playing cards. What followed now was the best example of unspoilt Uzbek helpfulness, hospitality and friendliness: one of the guys went with his car and came back 2 hours later to tell me that sadly he could not find any place. Then the chaikhana owner told me, I could sleep in the little room behind the restaurant, which he uses sometimes if he was too late to get home. He handed me over the key and… ahh, a place where I could roll out my sleeping bag and which was very much safe (although, Khokand is safe anyhow).
The best of all: he did not even want me to pay for the room, but told me that he would be happy if I have at least breakfast in his chaikhana. Well, this was not a big deal, as the food was very good. Plus, there was a lovely waitress, who was very much curious about almost everything – spoke only Russian, but at the end of my 2 days there, she learnt some words in German and English and I some in Russian.
Well, I am not sure if I can recommend to do the same, as I feel a bit sorry for the poor guy if herds of travellers appear there and ask for a room – but on the other hand, Khokand (sadly) Khokand is very much overlooked by most of the Uzbek travellers, so the choice is low that he will get requests for a bed every week.
It is the (only) chaikhana just east of the entrance to the Khan’s palace, easy to spot, with the blue covers of their seating area.
The room was very good, with separate toilet and shower. He even had a ventilator inside (thanks god, Uzbekistan is not yet having air condition everywhere). But… as I had the window open in the night, I must have invited all mosquitos of Ferghana Valley – each night they seemed to have excellent dinner…. So bring insect repellent !
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