In October, I had the opportunity to get out of Tashkent and see more of Uzbekistan not once, but twice – the first time on a three day work-related trip, and the second time on a short weekend trip with my husband and friends. (Actually, I did make one more trip out on October 30, but I’ll talk about that in my next post!)
The day after my birthday, I took an early morning train to Samarkand with a colleague. Upon arrival, we were picked up by an embassy vehicle and headed out on a road trip from Samarkand to Bukhara and surrounding districts.
This map below shows the location of Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara, to give you an idea of the distance traveled:
Outside Samarkand city, we picked up some dried fruits and nuts:
Below, visiting G’ijduvan, an Uzbek town famous for ceramics and its markets:
The end of cotton season, somewhere in Samarkand district:
Outside Bukhara city proper, we bought some beautiful pomegranates by the roadside, and these girls graciously allowed me to take their photo:
Below, in the ancient Bukhara city. I always find the juxtaposition between the Soviet-era cars and the ancient Silk Road architecture fascinating:
Less than a week after my business trip, my husband and I flew to Bukhara on a trip organized by the embassy’s CLO (Community Liaison Office). I was happy to spend a little more time wandering around the city and taking in the sights.
Shopping in Bukhara involved a little more bargaining than I bargained for; bargaining is not really my thing, so all I bought was a Christmas ornament! But the traditional clothes, crafts and carpets are to die for, and the demeanor of the sellers makes it clear that they are used to seeing foreigners. I got a little tired of hearing in English, “Lady, please!”
Bukhara has a strong tradition of Uzbek puppets – fun for kids AND adults!
Everywhere in Uzbekistan you can find delicious tea, and the region’s own version of plov, or pilaf. You can find a recipe for the Bukharan variant at this link. Don’t tell anyone, but I prefer my plov with raisins! (wink)
My husband and I checking out Bukhara’s ancient center:
Visiting the Emir’s summer palace:
Headed home in a place where there’s no indoor breezeway into the plane:
Customer service at Tashkent International Airport:
Samarkand, Bukhara and the surrounding areas are some of the most intriguing places I’ve seen in Uzbekistan. It doesn’t take that much effort to wind your imagination back one thousand years, or even two thousand years. You would probably see people haggling in the markets and praying at the mosques, much as they still do today.
About a year and a half ago, the Huffington Post named Samarkand #41 on its list of the Top 50 Cities to See in Your Lifetime. If you ever have a chance to come to Uzbekistan, visiting Samarkand and Bukhara won’t disappoint.