Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Shahrisabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:30 PM
We departed early for Shahrisabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane. Just outside the Bukhara old town, we made an inpromptus stop to see Chor Minor, a tiny mosque with 4 minarets (chor = 4 minor = minaret). very unique. "dont tell the other group" said Jonathan. I really didnt understand why they're trying to keep the 2 groups apart. we're always running into the other group anyway. at the hotels, at the restaurants, at sightseeing, at the airports, at border crossing. what was the point of keeping us separate. we've already made friends with some of the other group.

Shahrisabz was vibrant with lots of weddings going on in front of the Ak-Saray, Timur's winter palace. The brides' gowns were ostentatious, bizzare, outrageously flamboyant, almost comical. The palace ruins still showed decorated walls and the 2 remaining pylons were very tall and impressive. The portal which once stood had inscriptions that could be read clearly kilometers away. Later we visited Timur's crypt with his stamp in arabic on the wall, but he wasnt buried there. He was buried in Gur-Emir in Samarkand instead. We will visit his burial when we get to Samarkand. He built the mausoleums at Dorus-Siadat for his family and the Kok-Gumbaz Mosque and Mausoleums complex had the most beautiful dome. The setting was among green trees and very beautiful and serene. I've enjoyed this mosque very much.

260+Km would take us about 4 hours to get to Samarkand. Uzbek roads were notoriously bad. bumpy and slow. The desert roads lived up to their fame. dusty, potholes filled and the going was slow. again we've made some stops along the way to pee in the bushes. Diesel was scarce in town,so we've been told, and so our bus stopped at several gas stations to ask for fuel. most were empty. finally at the edge of town we struck black gold. the fuel pumps displays were rotary. so ancient not even the Hippo hadnt seen one before. finally we've entered the city, the third silk road city. big metropolis, sprawling city, much bigger than Bukhara. But the tap water was just as salty and the climate just as dry. our hotel was right next to the airport. fairly new with full resort amenities. We've discovered a huge gym with every kind of exercise machines, hers and his sauna and jacuzzi, and they're building a gihugic indoors swimming pool in a separate building, complete with turkish and thai baths. luckily my room did not face the airport tower but the back garden, with full sight of the gym and swimming pool complex. it was quiet back there except for very rare occasional aircraft noise. The room was big with a long balcony. The lamp on the bedside table didnt have any on/off switch, so to turn it on one needed to plug in the power cable. to turn it off, one had to pull the power chord. Very strange. The bed was huge, duvet thick and wonderful pillows. Not bad for a 3 nights stay. Oh the souvenir shop at the hotel was the best so far.

Dinner was at the only Italian restaurant, the Bella Italia. i didnt like the idea of having Italian in Central Asia. I came here to experience the local cuisine. I've always thought you couldnt go wrong with Italian. My spaghetti bolognese came with hardly any sauce. the pasta was local noodles. the meat was again ground meat. there was no taste at all. perhaps I should have ordered the pizza instead which they said it was reasonably OK. the only other choice was the veggie penne which too came with a minimum of tomato sauce. however, the local red wine was out of this world good. we put some in my spaghetti to give it some sauce and flavor. and also in the chocolate ice cream (it was white). except for the wine, definitely not a place I'd recommend or ever go back to.

At one of the stops this morning, we've discovered fruit flavor cigarrettes. so i bought some in green apple flavor. itonly cost 2 dollars so I couldnt pass it up. so tonight, at my balcony, I've smoked the local ciggie. I was dizzy after a few puffs. it wasnt strong at all. but the artificial flavor made me queasy. so much for smoking!

Kok-Gumbaz mosque

Shahrisabz photos



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