To go, or not to go - that is the question: whether 'tis wiser in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous ignorance, or to take arms against a sea of misconceptions, and by discovery end them? Indeed, a brainstorm over the dilemma will yield extreme answers depending on which lens - political or cultural - you choose to view Uzbekistan through. History full of tyrants, absurd laws, widespread bribery and omnipresent police are surely enough to give the country some really bad press, but can it possibly be more genuine than the country's staggering melange of architecture, bustling bazaars, beguiling scenery, and stirring kind-heartedness of Uzbeks?
Uzbekistan does prove a worthwhile destination, even if for no other reason than its spellbinding trio heavily reminiscent of the times when the country was part of the ancient Silk Road and a distinguished center of learning. Samarkand, dubbed locally as the ‘Rome of the Orient', walled Khiva and romantic Bukhara astound with glistening Islamic tile work, massive domes and towering minarets, all so fantastically preserved that you're ready to believe time stopped here centuries ago.
Nature buffs will not be left out disappointed either. The cotton fields and fruit orchards of Ferghana Valley delight with colors, the surrounding Tian Shan and Pamir ranges challenge daredevils with some of the world's highest peaks, and the Sarmish-say river gorge, apart from offering splendid trekking opportunities, exhibits an astounding array of Bronze Age petroglyphs. And there is so much more to wash out the bitter aftertaste of Jenghiz Khan's and Stalin's concoctions that you can safety make an order for the Uzbek adventure.