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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Uzbekistan - 30 August, 2002



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Lake Ajdar-Kul (Yurt Camp) N4104.958' E06606.490' 248 meters .
Lake Ajdar-Kul shore . . . .
Caravanserai . . . .
Gizhduvan Ceramics Shop . . . .
Finish Bukhara (Mosque Balyand Hotel) N3946.243' E06424.478' 233 meters

254 km

Total Leg 2:

899 km

Total Leg 1:

3,018 km

Grand Total:

3,917 km


Weather: Clear, sunny and very very hot.  Cool at night.



After a very relaxing night's sleep in the yurt, we awake to another hot day in the desert.  We have breakfast outside at the tables and chairs set up near our yurt.  It is the usual spread, including fried eggs.  Once we have finished breakfast, we load up the truck and drive a short distance down to the shore of the nearby lake.  We are once again greeted by another camp straight out of the "Mad Max" movie.


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Broken down old buildings pieced together with bits of junk and whatever other scraps they could find.  There are some old trailer homes that have now found a permanent resting spot.  The highlight is the old Soviet army motorcycle and side car.  It is a classic as it sits in the shade under a scraggly old bush.  We also get to see the locals bringing in the catch of the day - fresh fish straight from the lake.  Then to top off the mad scene - straight out of the French Riviera, there is an awning set up on the sandy beach providing shade for a number of beach chairs for the tourists, that is us, to relax in.


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Well, not to quibble with these comforts, we grab a chair each and sit back and relax and take in the view of the lake in the middle of the desert.  In between snoozing, reading and enjoying the view, some of go for a dip in the lake.  It is not too hot nor too cold - very nice and refreshing in the intense heat of the day.


After a few hours of not doing all that much, we are served a scrumptious lunch of fresh fish that has been fried.  It is wonderful.  There are also the usual accompaniments - nuts, raisins, dried fruit, bread, drinks, etc.  We are given some time to sit back and relax after another gorging on the local food before we have to head off.


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We are on our way to Bukhara - another of the fabled cities on the Silk Route.  Along the way we make two stops - the first is at an old caravanserai.  These were set up all along the old Silk Route as "motels" where the traders could stop for the night getting some rest, food and water.  In many places, they are only 30 - 40 miles apart, about one days travel in those days by camel.  This one is under renovation.  Across the road is the old water cistern, where water was stored and could be collected.  It was quite an interesting place, half buried underground with the large dome roof and the steps down to the large pool of water at the bottom.


The second stop on the way to Bukhara was at the traditional ceramics work shop at Gizhduvan.  A bit of sightseeing and another shopping opportunity.  We are shown a museum with some of the old work and then are shown how the ceramics are made.  They have a unique system where the glazed ceramics are fired upside down, causing little tear drop shapes to form at the rim.  Actually quite nice.  They are proud to show a photo of Hillary Clinton accepting a sample of their ceramic work during her visit to Uzbekistan.


While they also show us to the obligatory little shop, they also have laid out two tables with all sorts of yummy snacks.  So a tough choice - shop or eat.  In the end, we can do both.  We pick up a few pieces at incredibly attractive prices and then sit down to enjoy the local hospitality.  There is fresh fruit, nuts, dried fruits, bread, tea and water.  It is just about a meal in itself. While we are eating, we notice and admire a large piece of embroidery hanging on the wall.  It is all handmade, from the cotton base to the silk embroidery.  It, of course, turns out to be for sale and after some hard bargaining, we also take that piece with us as we leave the work shop.


After a bit less than an hour's drive, we arrive in Bukhara at the Mosque Balyand Hotel.  A very nice spot - not right in the center, but not too far out either.  The family has done a good job of making the place attractive and has decorated each room with traditional handicrafts (much better than the same posters of waterfalls amongst green mountain forests that they hang in many of the other hotels that we have stayed in so far on this trip).


We decide not to go out for dinner - we have already eaten enough food today to last us for a couple of days and stay in the hotel and work on our journals and just sit around and chat with some of the others that have decided to just hang around.


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