When I was a kid, I read a children’s story about a place called Samarkand. What we know of Aladdin’s or Ali Baba’s world, Samarkand was a place like that – an important stop along the famous Silk Road where tales of mystique and adventure could be had.
But we don’t live in that world anymore...
I wasn’t supposed to visit Uzbekistan. While at a hostel in Kyrgyzstan, the group I was with was chatting with a Dutchman and we came upon the topic of visas to enter Uzbekistan as two Belgians I was with intended to enter Fergana Valley region from Osh. As an American citizen, before July 2018, I would’ve had to pay $160 USD to obtain a visa to visit Uzbekistan (Belgians get in free). I was put off by this at the time and thought maybe I wouldn’t be able to visit Samarkand.
Fast forward a week – I ended up reading up more and more about Uzbekistan and thought about how it may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit it since I’m in that part of the world – I couldn’t possibly skip it because of a pricey visa. I decided that I’d apply for one when in Almaty (Kazakhstan). Long story short, by chance and luck, the Uzbek government had begun implementing an E-Visa program (on a beta-version website – which produced some challenges…) that would only cost me $20 USD to obtain a visa! The road to Samarkand was clear… so I bought a plane ticket.