We had a quiet day and pottered around the bazaar looking for souvenirs, before returning to the Hotel.
I had to ask for a second duvet last night – not because it’s cold, but because there’s a region- wide practice that makes no sense to me. Cavan and I usually share a generous double bed which is probably nearer king-size. Unfortunately, local hotels haven’t grasped that bigger beds require larger linen and use single sheets and blankets. As the only way to get the sheet to cover the bed is to turn it sideways this means that either your chest to your thighs are covered, or alternatively your waist to your feet. There is of course no option to tuck this arrangement in.
The only time we’ve had a well-made bed on this trip was when we had single beds in Bukhara. For once the linen fit the bed.
I think I’ve already mentioned that Central Asia doesn’t have a coffee drinking culture. Some cafes have invested in machines so that tourists can get their fix, but by and large the choice is tea – green or black.
Beer is widely available and popular, but wine is in short supply – this in spite of a wine-tasting session we attended in Bukhara. Uzbekistan’s wines proved to be palatable, if a bit ordinary. They have some way to go before they produce good quality wine.
Samarkand’s historic area is well-maintained, the gardens well-manicured and tourist police patrol everywhere. You certainly feel safe.
The rest of the city seems to be in transition. Most of the Russian imperial houses have gone although there are some from the Soviet era. It’s hard to define a specific architectural style here. Modern buildings are jumbled up with a mish-mash of earlier styles and it will be interesting to see how it all develops over the next 50 years or so.
The roads, even in the city, are bad. Manhole covers, for some inscrutable reason, stand 10 cms above the surface of the road and present a distinct hazard to car tyres. As the traffic moves fast, there is a sort of dodgem car effect created as the lanes weave in and out of each other. At least all traffic is meticulous about obeying lights at pedestrian crossings, although pity help you if you walk across slowly. Once the traffic light has turned green again the cars are in motion.
Tomorrow we head to Tashkent for a couple of nights, and from there we leave Uzbekistan.
Quoth the Raven, 'Never more'.
Tamerlane's family mausoleum
Papier mache boxes
Tyger, tyger, burning bright