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Asia - Uzbekistan
15 August 2010

Bought three melons, see? Kuntepa bazaar in Margilan, Uzbekistan

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The day after our visit to the Margilan Yodgorlik Silk Factory, the son of it's director (at whose house we were staying) took us to the Kuntepa bazaar. A great chance for him to practise his English and great for us to be shown around.

Margilan lies in the Fergana valley in eastern Uzbekistan. According to European legend, Margilan was founded by the Macedonian Alexander the Great. During a stop for lunch, he was given chicken (murgh, in Persian) and bread (nan; in Persian), which made the town's name. Fairly more reliable records state that Margilan was an important stop on the Silk Road by the 9th century AD, along the route going across the Alay Mountains to Kashgar.

The Margilan people have a reputation for toughness since ancient times, which is valid until today. Margilan merchants were important players in Central Asian commerce during soviet times when Margilan was the heart of Uzbekistans black market. Today Margilan is also a stronghold of conservative Islam, hence the traditional and conservative clothing.

From the very market we were picked up by the director again, who took us to a place outside the city, where we boarded a taxi for the long but interesting ride through the Fergana valley to the country's capital Tashkent.