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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Uzbekistan - 1 September, 2002

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Bukhara (Mosque Balyand Hotel) N3946.243' E06424.478' 233 meters .
-  National Day celebrations . . . .
Finish Bukhara (Mosque Balyand Hotel) N3946.243' E06424.478' 233 meters

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Total Leg 2:

899 km

Total Leg 1:

3,018 km

Grand Total:

3,917 km

 

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

 

 

Uzbek02_CD11_36_web.jpg (57426 bytes)

We have full extra day in Bukhara and we are on our own to explore.  We have an early breakfast in the hotel and then head out for a day of shopping.  Despite it being Uzbekistan's national day, most of the shops are open.  We head down into the old town and spend serious time going through all the shops contained in the many covered bazars that we breezed through yesterday.

 

Uzbek02_CD11_24_web.jpg (88679 bytes)

The vendors are very persistent in trying to get us into the shops.  The shops must outnumber the number of tourists that we see wandering the streets 10-to-1.  So we are in big demand.  As usual, the little treasures are hidden in amongst lots of junk in the dark, hot shops.  So we have to spend much time getting sweaty and sore necks from wading through the piles of stuff.  One thing that we are looking for are carpets, but the prices seem a bit high compared to what we are told they can be gotten for in Turkmenistan, so in the end we only get one piece.

 

But we do have an interesting, and occasionally fun time, interacting with the shop keepers.  One is from Afghanistan and he is telling us that it is now safe to go back there and that we should visit (now that would surely give our parents heart palpitations).  He tells Lars that he has many fellow country men there.  But he does sound genuinely happy about the situation there and is certainly happy that the Taliban are gone.

 

Others share with us endless cups of tea and make a real hard case for us to buy some of their wares.  They sound almost desperate.  We decide to head back to Labi-Hauz for lunch.  It is a nice relaxing spot and is cool on the edge of the pool of water.  Until a century ago, Bukhara was kept alive by a network of canals that delivered water to the 200 plus pools of water that dotted Bukhara.  It was at these pools that the citizens of Bukhara would gather to gossip, collect water and wash.  The problem was that the water was not changed very often, resulting in Bukhara becoming famous for its plagues.  The Bolsheviks came in 1920, drained the pools and introduced a more modern water system.  This led to the disappearance of the storks that fed on the bugs and frogs that lived in the pools.

 

After a short trip back to the hotel to drop off some shopping, we headed back into town for further shopping.  We finally returned to the hotel exhausted around 4 PM and took it easy and worked on our journals.  After washing up and getting ready, we gathered to head into the new part of town to join the locals in the celebration of their national day.

 

We decided to walk to the new part of town and the dusty alleys were filled with people heading in the same direction.  It certainly seemed the entertainment of the year.  We arrived at the modern main drag of Navoi and it was closed off to cars and hundreds of stalls were set up selling all kinds of food, snacks and drinks.  The shashlyk stalls were throwing out huge clouds of smoke from the wood fires.  The place was packed with people milling around.  But we quickly got people's attention.  As we walked through the crowds, a loud whisper of "tourist - tourist" rapidly moved through the massed people.  We were stopped numerous times and asked if they could take their picture with us.  They loved it when we then asked if we could take their picture.

 

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In addition to us, the other attraction seemed to be the faux Mickey Mouse and Tele-tubbies available for a posed picture.  The demand was huge and as many people did not have their own cameras, the photographer must have made a mint.  We were hungry, so we went in search for food.  In our quest, we came upon this huge stadium at the end of the road where a celebration was clearly going on.  The only problem - the man in the street was not welcome.  Only senior government officials and their friends were invited.  While the complaints were not open, it did not seem to go over well.

 

Uzbek02_CD18_17_web.jpg (41191 bytes)

In the shadow of one of the new modern hotels, we found a restaurant that was open and we sat down at the open air tables for dinner.  They did not have enough chairs, so they ran around searching for a few more.  Well - we had our usual.  Shashlyk and vodka.  They go well together.  After we ate our fill, we walked up to the fancy, relatively modern hotel for a drink.  We just did not seem to fit in, but we still decided to have one drink (at about 10 times prices out on the street.  Then back into the crowd and a slow walk back.  The dark alley ways do not seem very dangerous. They are filled with people heading here and there.  So we make it back to our hotel safely and in one piece (narrowly avoiding getting lost on the way).  What a way to celebrate their national day.

 

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