Well what a day: the hottest so far, lots to see on the way plus arriving and sightseeing in the amazing city of Buckhara.
So, starting with dawn at around 5am and the sun was streaming into our yurt: I awoke to not find Ros next to me (on the floor as that’s where one sleeps in a yurt). She had woken up and trekked to the toilet and decided to have a shower while she was there. For a ‘not a morning’ person this was amazing and I thought I had 1. Lost her, 2. Slept the night in the wrong yurt, or 3. Decided to roll over and go back to sleep.
Brecky in the open air dining room with views over the desert consisting of an egg with a wiener, pancake with apricot jam and gallons of black tea (no milk) plus nuts and cakes and biscuits served at the table.
Burgundy was leader today and with Simon the travel writer in the passenger seat he found a couple of sights for us to see on the way.
First the town of Nurata (ever heard of it?). Anyway, Alexander the Great decided it was a Great spot to build a fort in (something) BC and you could easily see why: on top of a hill looking out over the plain we had just driven across (60 kms of dead flat): just right for checking up on the conquered nomads and planning the next attack. Also there is the Chashma Spring found when Mohammed’s son-in-law drove his staff into the ground and up popped water. Possible story, however we have to assume that Alexander would have known about the spring for him to build a fort there (why cloud a good story with facts). The spring water has fish in it, not to be eaten as they are special fish.
On the road again and a stop at the Zuksrney Petroglyphs (rock carvings – don’t worry I didn’t know what they were either), prehistoric carvings in the slate rocks depicting camels, horses with riders and goats. We climbed the hill and wondered where these carvings were until we found one and then started to notice more as our eyes became accustomed to finding them.
Back through to the main road and then a drag down to Buckhara. As usual our drive provides some quirky sights to keep us interested.
Unfortunately the cloud cover of the morning blew away and the temperature rose and rose until it was in the 40’s so by the time we arrived at the hotel every one was a bit weary. A quick swim and then out for a walk around the sights. Fortunately Buckhara is a small town and hence the sights are within walking distance.
We started at the Lyabi Hauz, a pond in the middle of the plaza which has always being the centre of town. No longer used for drinking, but a quite and cool site with restaurants around the pool and 100 year old mulberry trees full of fruit (both black and white mulberries). However, as we are here during Ramadan, it was all very quite with no one on the streets (but boy did it change after sunset).
Around Lyabi Hauz is a mosque and a medressa plus on the 4th side is the Jewish quarter. We were extremely fortunate to enter the synagogue (today is Saturday) and to be met by the president of the synagogue who spoke to us for 20 minutes about the history and traditions of the Jewish population in Buckhara. From a population of over 2,000 families before the Soviet times there are now 250 left. Most fled when worshipping was banned (secret meetings in houses, hidden Torah and circumcisions behind closed doors). Only the old people were allowed into the synagogue. Interestingly his son and daughter both now live in Melbourne! We were very lucky to hear about these times. The synagogue has been renovated twice since independence and now is very beautiful and peaceful (and air-conditioned!).
On from there into the Taki Bazaars, each one previously specialising in one item: money exchange in one, hats in another: although it was 40 degrees today, it gets to minus 20 degrees in winter so there were big fur hats plus hats that one can use as an alter when traveling to say the daily prayers.
awe also visited an old caravanserai, once the resting and trading place for traders on the Silk Road, caravanserai played an important role in the life of the Silk Road traders. This one now now served as an artisan craft market and we looked very closely at the beautiful carpets being produced by one designer craftsman and his talented weavers.
Back to the hotel for a coffee and beer before venturing out with Loris and Ian, Tony and Simon for a beer in a roof top restaurant over looking the Kalon minaret and mosque and medressa (which we will revist tomorrow).
Dinner around the corner on the roof top of a local restaurant with food arriving as we sat down and fortunately we were there before 8:15 (official sunset) so we sneaked in before the locals could eat.
A coffee around the Lyabi Hauz which was now full and heaving with music and restaurants and a lot of people enjoying the hours after sunset.