Stairway to heaven.... (partially carpeted)

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Carpets took up a substantial part of the rest of our stay in Bukhara - 3 bought so far and a few others mused over. Then set off across more desert followed by a green plain between rocky hills as we neared Samarkand. The plain was hazy with sand being blown across - the hills barely distinguishable. And then reached the dizzy heights of Samarkand - all of 800 feet but already cooler (tho still extremely hot). The Green didn't like the dust again and when we arrived, Steve was anxious to find a mechanic who could do a service and change the oil filters. Looks like that's been achieved today. The car seat covers have even been washed ready for the next leg.


Samarkand is where the famous Stairway to Heaven is to be found - linking a number of beautiful mauseleums dating from 13th century onwards and dedicated to members of the Timur dynasty. Timur the Lame, or Tamberlane as we know him, was responsible for much of what was started here  and his successors kept on adding to it. There is too much to see in even 2 days but you get a good feel for the wealth and power that he must have commanded. The monuments are to be found right across the city, which has wide leafy avenues joined by twisty narrow lanes. The monuments themselves ahve been heavily restored and some restoration is still going on. Roger came in the Nineties and says the difference is enormous. Hard to say if it's a good or bd thing, although the museum at the Registan, a centre of 3 madrassahs in the centre, has photos of the buildings from the 19th an early 20th century, when they were being left to rot. The reconstruction has been done at an incredible pace and the buildings are magnificent. In one or two places a little of the decoration has been left as it was to compare. Whilst authenticity is great, there is little doubt that the cit wouldn't aattract the level of tourism it does if they hadn't reconstructed. And it must give a pretty good idea of what the place was like when the Timur empire was in full swing.

It's been really good to have these last 7 days staying in only 3 places. We have all needed to rest - I think everyone has had a tummy bug now and some are still recovering. I wouldn't fancy the next part of the journey without the rest beforehand.

We have seen more tourists here than anywhere and also lots of Mongolian Rally vehicles. One group, with Explore, we encountered at the roadside cafe in the desert and they are stayng in our hotel.But even with so many tourists, the money changing doesn't get quicker tho there are more places to change cash for suma, the local currency. If you want to change travellers cheques, it's the National Bank of Uzbekistan and their many forms (which differ from branch to branch). You can also change dollar cheques for Suma at the President Hotel. The presidnet hotel (which we are NOT staying at) is apparently owned by the president's 2 daughters. along with the biggests hotels in Khiva and Bukhara (which funnily enough we didn't stay in,either) and Maro Polo Travel Company. Hmm, wonder why there is less and less tourist hassle by the police, these days?.....

Off for a swim in our hotel's pool (a roomy oval of 5m x 4m - but lovely and cool!)


See you in Kashgar I hope)

geo! 39.655 66.976

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This page contains a single entry by Deborah published on August 4, 2008 1:20 PM.

Hotel Omar Khayam was the previous entry in this blog.

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