Saturday, 10 August 2013

Our Life of Leisure in Uzbekistan

The good life at Eric and Tiffany's

Dushanbe: statues and water fountains

Firstly, a big thankyou must be said to Eric and Tiffany for their wonderful hospitality during our time in Dushanbe. With visa challenges and imperfect health their apartment was a haven and their friendship made for many good times during our two weeks there.

The ex-soviet cities that we've visited specialise in huge open spaces, great monuments to old heroes, and an excess of dramatic water fountains, added to by their psycadelic neon lighting after dark.

Preparing for the journey. Any car in Uzbekistan can be your taxi.

On August 1st we finally escaped the clutches of Dushanbe and made our way over the border to Uzbekistan. Our first experience of Uzbek kindness occurred when the locals bumped us from the back of the border queue to the front, saving us literally hours of waiting in 40 degree heat. The border guard proved nice enough despite their fearsome reputation for beauracratic tyranny.

Triumphant arrival in Samarkand, place of much anticipation.

While we like to call ourselves cycle tourists the truth of the last month is that our cycling has consisted of 10km here or there (definitely no longer than that!), moving ourselves from the bus or train station to our next guesthouse. I'm sure we always look impressively epic on arrival or departure though, we also probably look impressively fresh and energetic. Public transport in Uzbekistan sometimes consists of train travel but between smaller towns we've had to resort to strapping bikes on the roof of cars and anxiously hoping they survive the ride intact.

Local artrist. Nice to be able to buy something not mass produced.

Bibi-Khanym Mosque

Bibi-Khanym Mosque

Siob Bazaar. Uzbek bazaars have been much more orderly than those of their Central Asian neighbours.

Samarkand skyline.

Some scenes of Samarkand. Beautiful old Mosques and Medressas, local artwork and fun at the Bazaar. We really enjoyed the relaxed vibe of the city, the fun night life filled with families and our  very hospitable B&B. After two days we caught a train from Samarakand to Bukhara. Again we were happily surprised by how easy this was and how helpful the locals were. Our carriage guard had a feeble attempt at trying to convince us extra money was required for the bikes, she gave in easily however and was then our best mate and very keen to practice her english language with us.

Unloading bikes with our newly befriended carriage guard.

Cameron the Aussie. Enroute from Almaty to Europe.

We bumped into this Aussie guy Cameron enroute. After a while of figuring each other out he and Anna realised they had crossed paths before. Back in January they'd had a conversation in passing as they cycled opposite ways near Nelson! Now seven months later they were staying in the same B&B in Samarkand!

Bukhara backstreets

Arriving in Bukhara we got ourselves totally lost amongst the alleyways of the old town. After eventually stumbling across our accomodation by good luck, we had three fun days exploring the famous sites (more Mosques, Medressas and Mauseleums), ducking around the back streets, wandering the local bazaar, eating big breakfasts and generally living a life of leisure.

This may be the Turki Jandi Mauseleum but we don't know because we were thoroughly lost!

When in Rome. When in Bukhara.

Bukhara's sparkling centrepiece: Kalon Mosque

View of Bukhara from a water tower we climbed. Kalon Mosque and Kalon Minaret. A bit grim to think of all those poor folk in history who have come to their end after being thrown from this 47m high minaret.

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