Today we had a half day walking tour of the historic sites of Bukhara. It was around 37C day today. Tomorrow is forecast as 40C.
We started off at the Mausoleum of the Samanids. A very intricate building that was built over 1000 years ago and most likely the oldest mausoleum in Central Asia, due to the Muslim belief of being returned to the ground after death. Very intricate brickwork, but no use of colour at this stage of history. we walked on a bit and I was tempted to buy a $600 US silver tray…. seriously I was, it was exquisite and beautiful. After trying to bargain, I said “Maybe tomorrow” and walked off.
We then headed to the Ark, a large fortress in the centre of the city, that was fairly heavily damaged by the Russians in 1920. Other than lives, historical sites are always one of the biggest losses in war. There is an interesting story that goes with the Ark. An Englishman called Stoddart, headed to Bukhara in 1841 to convince the Emir to side against Russia and help shore up the defence of the British colonies on the subcontinent to the south. The Emir of Bukhara however was unimpressed by several things. Firstly, Stoddart did not approach the Ark on foot but rather mounted on his horse. secondly the letter he carried cam e from the governor-general of the British colonies in the south and not from Queen Victoria herself, whom he considered his equal. So stoddart was thrown into jail into what is known as the bug pit, a 6.5 m deep bit of hell, which we saw later on after the Ark. To continue the story another Englishman named Conolly went to rescue Stoddart a year later. Unimpressed again by lack of letter from Queen Victoria herself, he beheaded both men in the square in front of the Ark. A third man sent to confirm the deaths Reve. Wolff, survived, mainly because the Emir found him hilarious due to his full canonical garments.
We then headed to a carpet factory and shop. All tours have stops at ridiculously overpriced tourist rates, right. So explain to me why I bought a new carpet today, made of baby camel’s neck hair wool. yes a new carpet.
Maybe it was impulse, it was a good price, better than the several thousand at other places. I’m sure it will look fabulous in my lounge room…..
Onto the Kalon Minaret and Mosque complex. A rather nice tall minaret, and a mosque with a lovely courtyard. Minarets in Uzbekistan, do not perform the call to prayer, as the country has rules to moderate the Muslim faith, especially regarding women. We eventually ended up in the Lyabi-hauz, which is the main square except its a pond. There were some nice leafy spots here, including a half decent and cheapish restaurant.
Later in the day, I went to a hammam. I’ve never been to a hammam, Turkish bath or similar before. I’ve also never been touched by a many in so many places and winced in pain as well as enjoy it at the same time. I’m also feeling the cleanest I’ve been for a long time.
Anyway another day down, still plenty more to come. As I finish this, my roommate for this stop, who is a very energetic 71, is whistling some tune from the past, while in the shower. I believe next stop I’m the room to myself on the room sharing rotation. Even though I’m the youngest male, we all get along like blokes do. One guy tells all sorts of stories until his wive removes the exaggerations!