Ferghana’s bazaar is a lovely place to go, not necessarily to buy something, just to stroll around and take in the lovely bustling atmosphere. As a lot of Korean people live here, it guarantees a multicultural experience as well.
But, if you are like me, you will soon find yourself with several bags of delicious food and snacks, or sweets and pastries.
I had a lovely experience here as well, very much typical for the attitude of the locals towards foreign travellers: while I was walking along the food stands, so many of the traders greeted me with a smile and this lovely family selling sweets wanted to have a look at my camera. I let them play with it a bit and then I took a photo of all of them – and suddenly they handed me over a bag full with sweets. I wanted to pay, but they waved their hand – no, this was just a gift for me.
Uzbek hospitality, Uzbek lovely people !
I am only a bit sad that I didn’t take their adress to send them the photo. But … there is always a next time, and I definitely will return !
The southern side of al-Farghani park is reserved for amusement. It has lots of little cafes (yes, I think they are more cafes than chaikhanas) with sunshades and tables to relax and sip coffee, tea or soft drinks and eat some snacks. People watching on the evening is fun too, as a lot of families come with their kids and play around the pool (hauz-style). There are pool billiard desks under shady trees, big chess grids and also a Ferris Wheel. This kind of amusement seems to be quite polular among Uzbek families, although most of the ones I saw did not run (maybe broken and no money to repair). The one here in Ferghana’s park was running, and so I took a ride. It was way cheap, 200 sum (would be 10 cents). And it was also fun, as I was the only one in there, and the nice wheel operator gave me some additional minutes up there to take in the gorgeous views at sunset.
But….. it is nothing for the ones overly concerned about security, as the construction looked old (photos 3 and 4). It did not break, though, while I was on it. And I won’t expect it to break in the future.
Al Farghani Park is named after scholar Akhmad al-Farghani, famous teacher, scientist, humanist and philosopher. Ah, I just looked up his name in Wikipedia and found that his full name was Abu'l-Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Kathir al-Farghani, better known as Alfraganus and that he was one of the famous Tajik/Persian astronomers of 9th century. If you want to read more about him, please see here, Wikipedia’s info for Alfraganus.
The park is located just south of the bazaar and is quite huge, with lots of shady trees and little squares and walkways, dotted with flowers. It is dominated by a memorial for al-Farghani (photo 1), which was erected to celebrate his 1200th anniversary in 1998.
When I walked around, some young guys adressed me in proper English and wanted to give me a tour through their town, and practise their English. It is safe to do it, no need to worry – the people are just nice and helpful, and as not many foreign travellers seem to come to Ferghana Valley and their town, they pick every opportunity.
There are for sure several options to grab food or to dine in Ferghana.
First of all, you can get almost everything from snacks to shasklyk on the bazaar.
If you want to dine in style, you can have lunch or dinner at Hotel Asia, as I did have twice (well, one lunch, one dinner), as I stayed there.
Southeast of the bazaar is also a nice chaikhana with good shasklyk. Prices here were around 2.500 sum for shasklyk and soft drink. Oh, be aware that you usually get a bottle, once you order soft drinks, mostly 1,5 litres. They also serve beer, the usual Baltica. The Sibirskaya in my photo was served in the hotel – lovely beer by the way (haha, extra tip for Richie and D, if they make it to Uzbekistan one day J).
Lonely Planet also mentioned Restaurant Saran, run by a Korean guy and Askiya Café, but the Korean one I didn’t find (maybe too blind?)and the café was always closed (August 2006), it might be open by now.
Favorite Dish: Thanks Paul Paul (Ekahau) for a very interesting comment about Korean food - for Ferghana and Central Asia :-)
The home of the Korean carrot salad of Uzbekistan. Stalin moved them here from around Vladivostok. All over central asia even Tyva the Koreans are growing and sell vegs very good stuff.
Getting to and from Ferghana is quite easy. Local busses and shared taxis arrive at the central bus station, northeast of the bazaar.
It is also here, where you can hop on a shared taxi, if you want to go to Marghilan to visit the Silk Factory.
Shared taxi to Marghilan is about 200 sum one way.
Shared taxis or shared busses to destinations outside of Ferghana’s district or province leave from the overland bus “station” south of the bazaar. This is not really a station, as there is no sign, but it is easy to spot, as it is the place where all the taxi-busses gather and wait for passengers. Check the signs in the bus, and make sure to pick out your destination correct, as the names are written in Uzbek. Khokand would be Qo’qon.
My trip to Khokand in a shared taxi-bus was 2.000 sum.
And if of interest, I paid 8.000 sum to go from the border with Kyrgyzstan (at Osh) to Ferghana in a “private” taxi.
All prices as of August 2006.
Something I noticed in eastern Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have been the “cars from western Europe”. In Germany we would say, something falls from a truck, meaning that it is stolen. For the cars I was not quite sure, as it could well have been that some Uzbek traders bought tons of older or used minibusses in western Europe to sell them in their homecountry.
But… if you are missing a car, you might likely encounter it somewhere in Central Asia, with all the stickers and writings on it. The one in the photo did have the writing of a Mannheim “company” on it.
As I am the only one who wrote about Ferghana, I am just adding the stuff I would put under the various categories here.
Packing list & Shopping:
Ferghana has a small department store and a big bazaar - so if you run out of supplies, you can get almost everything here. Ok, most likely not camera chips, but batteries.
You should bring however sunscreen, it gets quite hot.
And a Russian phrasebook to translate.
There are some places east of the bazaar region, where you could go out dancing in the evening. These have been simple outdoor restaurants with a separate dance floor and the typical "disco illumination". Songs of all kind, Uzbek, Russian and "western".
there is a nice swimming pool ground in the southwest part of the town. I always saw it when passing by on the way to the hotel. It is a kind of Aqua Park with slides for kids. But I was never in there, as I was too much afraid to get a heat shock when hopping in cold water while it is bloody hot outside.