Thursday, June 28, 2018


After leaving Bukhara, we boarded the Orient Silk Road Express one more time and headed towards Turkmenistan for the last leg of our trip (at least the organized tour part):

I had grown a bit fond of our Silk Road Express train. Yes, it's true. 

I had become more or less accustomed to its clankety-clank noise, cramped quarters, and interrupted sleep. I looked forward to the welcoming entertainment as we disembarked in each train station. I'd grown fond of the twice-a-day clean up of our room and the relatively decent meals. Then there was the view out of our window--mile after mile. I truly do miss that. It was always changing, and even when it didn't, it changed with the time of day:

Sunday, June 24, 2018


On our way out of Bukhara, we stopped at two historical sites: a royal summer palace and a Sufi mausoleum.

In the mid-19th century, the Emir of Bukhara (a descendant of Genghis Khan) decided he needed a place to escape the heat, to he asked his wise men where to build. They told him to kill and quarter a lamb, and then to put each quarter in a different location. Build where the meat stays fresh the longest. He did exactly that.

While his summer palace did not survive, a second one was built on the same site later in the 19th century. The Emir at the time had a beloved wife Sitora who died, so he named the palace after her: Sitorai Mokhi Khosa, translated as "Star, like the Moon."  The front gate, a fusion of central Asian and Russian design, still stands:

Apparently it wasn't fancy enough for the grandson of that emir, because when he inherited the throne, he built a third palace next to the old one. It was finished in 1917. Unfortunately, Russia took over Bukhara in 1920, and the emir fled to Afghanistan, where he lived out the rest of his life and died in 1944.

These days the palace serves as a museum of fine arts. As in days past, peacocks roam freely around the grounds:

There were many handmade items on display and for sale, including the ubiquitous suzanis, or embroidered tablecloths/wall hangings. In fact, there were quite a number of desperate artisans there, trying to sell their creations, but there were few if any buyers. We had been exposed to these products for days and had already filled our luggage with similar items. However, I think the quality and prices at the palace were as good and probably better than in the city.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


As a major stop along the Silk Road, Bukhara had exposure to many different cultures. That is still apparent today in their architecture and diet and appearance. Bukhara even has a Jewish synagogue, built in the 16th century:

The land for this synagogue was granted to the Jews in exchange for a piece of property owned by some local Jews and on which the local vizier wanted to build a madrasa. A deal was cut and the beautiful Madrasa of Nadir Divan-begi was built on the site in 1622:

It is best know for this unusual depiction of two phoenixes and a sun with a face on the entrance portal:

Saturday, June 16, 2018


The name "Bukhara" is supposed to mean "full of knowledge," but I think it really means "full of shopping." What we found, however, is that it is expensive shopping, at least as compared to Khiva, which had many of the same things for lower prices.  Bukhara is a much bigger tourist destination, which drives the prices up.

One of our activities was visiting another rug-making place.  (We had previously visited one in Samarkand, the city that became the most important city in Central Asia after Bukhara started to fade.) There were rugs for sale in all shapes, sizes, and colors:

 My personal favorite:

A knowledgeable woman educated us about quality, pattern, colors, etc., and her friendly henchman helper lifted up various rugs so that we could all buy them see them:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Our final stop in Uzbekistan was Bukhara, another monument-filled ancient city. Certainly of the five Stans we visited, Uzbekistan is the one with the most to see, at least as far as historical sites. By the time we left, we were on mosque and madrasa overload. Anyway, Bukhara is about 2,500 years old and was the main city of the region for almost 2,000 years. It was the center that preceded Samarkand.

Bukhara means "monk's house" or "monastery." When it was founded, Islam had not yet been established. Instead, the city had an abundance of Buddhists, then Zoroastrians. It was the religious center of Central Asia. Today it has a population of about 250,000 people who are mostly Muslims.

We were met at the train station by a group of performers called "The Strong Men of Bukhara."  One of the men was lifting 100-pound weights:

Now he is holding 300 pounds in his teeth and 200 in his hands:

That's 350 pounds on his back:

I assume the youngsters are there for show. We only saw the guy in red lifting.

We really loved the performances at all the train stations on our Silk Road journey. They are a nice welcome and a fun introduction to the city.

Our first stop was Po-i-Kalyan, aka "The Grand Mosque," one of the oldest and largest mosques in Central Asia. It is actually a complex that includes a madrasa and a famous minaret.

 Really, the walls aren't caving in; it just looks like they are: