Day 35: Yangiobod Bazaar

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The best place to find a bust of your favorite comrade – photo credit, friend of the author

Much more than just a flea market, Yangiobod Bazaar is a treasure trove for basically anything you could possibly ever want, or think you might want.  For collectors of Soviet era memorabilia, this place is a gold mine.  Bargains to be had, and savvy dealers swapping propaganda pins, watches, medals, coins, old and rare books, and busts of your favorite comrades.  Glassware, furniture, bicycles, musical instruments, clothing, carpets, spare electrical parts and insulators, even a depressing animal section with dogs, cats and turkeys!  Literally everything you can possibly think of.  Yes, even the kitchen sink.

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within the antiques section of the old panel factory – photo credit, Daryo.uz

Located in the so called “panel district” alongside the rail yards off the main line south of the center of Tashkent, Yangiobod Bazaar spreads out in and around a former concrete panel factory.  These concrete panels were used during Soviet times to build thousands of iconic concrete apartment blocks, examples of which can found in every town and city within the sphere of Soviet influence.  Tashkent is no exception, where after the 1966 earthquake, these blocks were built to provide housing to the thousands of displaced Uzbeks whose homes were destroyed, and imported relief workers from across the Soviet Union.

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a boy and his new puppy just outside the back gate of Yangiobod – photo credit, friend of the author

The main entrance of the bazaar is a bustling hubbub of activity as shoppers squeeze through the gates and immediately flow into densely packed rows of stalls.  Narrow pathways are packed with shoppers, but look out for men with formidable carts made of welded together sheets of steel piled high with a random assortment of products making their way through the crowds.

The busiest section is near the main entrance gates, but on the weekends the fun spills out all the way to the railway line at the back of the complex where the bazaar can also be accessed through a makeshift gate.  Here sellers lay out carpets and display a random assortment of items in a series of mini garage sales in orderly rows leading all the way to the main “pavilion” of the old panel factory.

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Soviet treasures, original “made in the USSR” fine manual timepieces

Within the dark halls of the factory, a myriad of treasures await those who make the 20-30 minute trek from central Tashkent by taxi.  In the winter, dress for bone chilling cold in the interior stalls that never see natural light.  In summer, be sure to come early to beat the searing 45°C heat.  While the best concentration of Soviet era memorabilia and antiques are found within the protected halls of the factory, you never know what you mind find among the offerings available unprotected near the back gate spread out on sheets under the unforgiving Uzbek sun.

Rumor has it that Yangiobod Bazaar will soon be relocated to a more central location in order to make room for a modern industrial park.  Announced in September 2017, no evidence exists that this plan has yet gained any traction.  Yangiobod still attracts buyers and sellers from all walks of life, with expats, tourists, diplomats, and locals still flocking to the panel factory for great deals on historical memorabilia, while merchants nostalgically yearn for the good-old-days of the USSR.

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two Lenins are always better than one

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