Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Stunning Bukhara and a mighty sandstorm

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:00 PM
A long drive through the deserts of Turmenistan. The rolling hills and scattered vegetation were quite pretty. We had to make a stop to pee in the bushes. Crossing the pontoon bridge this morning to get to the Uzbek border we had to close the curtains in our bus. We're not supposed to look around or take any pictures. Hmm. There were 4KM we had to walk across with our luggage. I had no problem with that. A minivan was there but only took us half way across. The rest we had to drag our luggage in the sun. Re-entering Uzbek again took some time. Again we had to fill out the Uzbek custom forms declaring how much money we're taking into the country. Same drill. Getting a bit tired of it by now.

In the afternoon, just before sunset we visited the Chor Bakr Necropolis. Very creepy place. We witnessed a group of colorfully dressed Bukhara girls rehearsing their dance. Here in Bukhara, the dresses were considered the most beautiful in the country.

Later we drove to our soviet style hotel inside the old town, surrounded by ancient monuments. Again, we had to haul our luggage because the old town was pedestrian only. Vendors lined the streets with their goods to sell. The soviet hotel was lousy but my room window opened up to the ancient Trading Domes, filled with dust. We had stretchy sandpaper for toilet paper. Reminded me of the cheap toilet paper from some old European towns. When you tore out a piece, it broke into pieces. The duvet smelled like dirty clothes.

I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. The water was shut off. A little later the power went out. But by 6am everything came back.

The Abdullaziz Khan Madrasa around the corner from our hotel was the most colorful. It's so beautiful it blew the Hippo away. Inside, we were able to see some of the cells of the students. They were quaint and cozy with 2 stories. Even the walls were decorated. Vendors everywhere selling souvenirs, hats, scarves and the ceramic was the most beautiful. I had planned to return in the afternoon to shop. The old city of Bukhara lived up to its name. The monuments were ancient and beautiful.

We were debating on whether to do the afternoon sightseeing or just go shopping. We were not given enough free time to shop on this tour, and we were all itching to spend our dollars on local souvenirs which were so beautiful and unique.

We had lunch (fantastic local soup again) by the pool at the Lyabi-Hauz in front of the madrasa. I had planned to return later to check out the ensemble. However, walking back to the hotel, we've noticed a dark cloud in the sky. We thought it meant rain but I smelled dust. Minutes later we barely made it back to the hotel when the sandstorm hit with full force. Later other members of the group came back filled with a fine layer of sand. Every time the hotel doors were open, wind and sand blew in. Through the glass doors we could see the brown dust blowing and the shops were closing and vendors pulling their stuff off the streets. So we simply waited at the hotel lobby and the Hippo asked the classic million dollar unanswerable question "How long will the storm last?". Jonathan simply laughed at me. Peter said he wanted to go to the carpet store next door. It's just right next door to the hotel so I've decided to cover my head and venture out with him. I did find a 3X5 carpet that I liked, but the price was way too high and no amount of bartering would reduce to an amount I could afford. So I ended not buying but went to shop for scarves and ceramic instead in the few stores that were still open. The Abdullaziz Madrasa doors were closed. So there was no chance of going back there to buy the stuff I've seen in the morning. I was covered by sand by the time I came back to the hotel. At least I was able to purchase a few ceramic plates and scarves. I had my room window shut but the storm blew it wide open and my room was covered with fine sand. Ah well, we're in the desert after all.

miri arab mosque

Bukhara photos



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