Thursday, September 25, 2014

bye bye bukhara

Leaving tomorrow morning. All we needed to see today was the Emir's Palace and Paul's souvenir shopping! My main duty semed to be to control his spending!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

brillo bukhara

We are now into our third day in Bukhara.

Another delightful Uzbekistan old city full of tiled mosques and madressas (religious schools) where we have scoured the city's sites at leisure.

In the centre of the old city lies Lyab-i Hauz, a water reservoir like pond with ancient mulberry trees around its perimeter, some reputedly over 500 years old.

It is hot here like Khiva, but sitting around Lyab-i Hauz is surprisingly cool even in the middle of the day.

Our hotel is quite luxurious by our normal standards and is about 50 metres from the cooling pond in the old city centre.

Below are a selection of photos from the 300 or so we have taken here so far!

The day after tomorrow we are heading into Turkmenistan so uncertain of internet there.

Friday, September 19, 2014

S..s..s..s..s..

Splendidly, sensationally, superbly sublime Samarkand.

We caught an overnight train from Khiva to Samarkand a couple of days ago.  

We booked a VIP cabin (just two beds instead of the more regular four) as in those confined spaces a stranger who snores or has questionable hygiene can make for a night of hell. (My night trains in Ukraine are testament to that fact!)   The compartment was tight and not very luxurious. No room for luggage except on the floor by the door. But we were supplied with sheets and pillow cases.  

The train left at 15.20 and was due into Samarkand at 05.40 the following morning. I set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier.  

Soon after leaving Khiva the scenery turned to desert. And not a glorious sand duney type of desert redolent of Arabian Nights with camels and Bedouin tents, rather a scrubby grubby affair poor on the eyes. So we turned in early.  

I was woken with a start by Paul's slightly panicky shouts of 'we're here...we're here'   I leapt out of my bed and the two of us, in the best Jaques Tati fashion, frantically proceeded to try and gather all of our belongings; food, bags, toiletries, drinks, dignity, whilst trying to stay out of each others way. I shucked off my shorts and decided underwear would add to the delay and attempted to put my trousers on without any for the time being.

Bending over with trousers around my feet, the compartment door flew open and the conductor copped a face full when he came to check on us.   We scrambled out onto the platform with bags half zipped, clothes half dressed and collapsed onto the first platform seat in sight. I then had a chance to discover it was a little after 5am and the train had arrived 40 minutes early.  

While I continued to reorganise my belongings Paul wandered off to find the exit. Five minutes later I set off to join him when all of a sudden a shrill and loud 'cock-a-doodle-do' began to emanate regularly from my day pack. We had decided the night before that it would be fun to change the alarm to a cock crow - and it had just gone off.   Our hotel was fortunately awake at 6am and let us into our room to unpack and change. Then we were straight out to explore Samarkand.

Arriving at the Registan we were thrilled to discover there were no people anywhere. For half an hour we had the place to ourselves.   The buildings that make up the Registan are beautiful. Fantastic tile work and every part of it is ever so slightly out of alignment. We are in Wonkistan said Paul!  

Apart from the Registan we also visited several other sites in town including the Gur e Amir complex and Oq Saray both of which had incredible ceilings and breathtaking tile work.   The second day we hired a taxi and went about 90kms over some nearby mountains to a place called Shakrisabz the birthplace of Timur (or Tamerlane) a 15th century ruler. There are some really nice ruins here and good ice cream!



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

mud walls galore

We are now into our third day in Khiva in the north-west of Uzbekistan It's not a big place but it has given us time to relax and get a feel of the place and to see different parts of the old city at different times of the day and in different light.

Khiva is a mud walked fortified city from around the early 16th Century. It is full of delightful charm and character, fairly low on tourists at the moment and I'll let the photos do the talking!!

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