Samarkand and the Silk Road

Uzbekistan, Discovery, 14 days - from $2,090 (land only)

DiscoveryTrek & Walk

Silk Road Memories by Sarah

By: KE Adventure Travel, posted 25th October '12

Drawing up in our mini-bus, tired and travel-worn after three flights in 24-hours, to see Khiva’s great ramparts rising up in the darkness, and realising with lurch that our next two nights would be spent inside the walls of this ancient and beautiful city.

Trying on enormous, shaggy wool and fur hats, and trying to imagine what it is like in winter in temperatures of minus fifteen degrees, while a summer sun burned down on us.

Visiting the Kukhna Ark, with its beautiful blue tile work, and being transported back to the days when the Khan would survey his harem from his breezy look-out tower.

Trying to sort my khans from my shahs from my Mohammeds and give them some kind of chronological context, and failing dismally despite the best efforts of our knowledgeable guide, Mashhura.

Drinking yet another cup of refreshing green tea.

Crossing the River Oxus on a single carriageway bridge, shared with the railway line, and feeling grateful, for once, for a police presence to ensure that a train hadn’t chosen that moment to come along.

Experiencing a hamman in Bukhara where the ‘scrubbing ladies’ left us beautifully relaxed, and with super-silky skin.

Dishes of delicious salads which formed the starter to every meal.

Being unable to resist taking just one more photo of the amazing blue, green and ochre tiles that cover the buildings.

Our driver Mahmout’s wife leaping onto the bus as we passed through Samarkand, to collect the bucket of fish he had caught in Lake Aydar: it turned out they were for the cat!

The contrast between the sandy background of a desert country and the vivid colours everywhere, the blue of the sky, the exquisite tiles, the fabrics, the ceramics, the spices in the markets.

The kindness of our homestay hosts, and frustration at not having a shared language in which to speak to them properly.

Trying to avoid cracking my teeth on the almonds and apricot kernels that always accompanied food and drink.

93-year old Bobo showing his World War 2 medals and saluting Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin!

Walking in the dramatic, dry mountains and feeling the landscape with flocks of sheep and goats must be little changed from Biblical days.

Squat loos.

Star gazing in the countryside far from city lights.

Wandering round the market in Shakrishabz where you can buy everything from dried yoghurt balls to piles of bread, and from honey in coke bottles to every fruit and veg imaginable.

Groups on pilgrimage from the Fergana Valley, the women in their colourful dresses, the men wearing the ubiquitous embroidered hats, and everyone flashing their gold teeth.

Entering yet another madrassa and being as impressed with its beauty as when I entered the first.

The good company of the others in our party.

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