A lot of you are aware that I really don’t handle heat well, today was mid-30s again and it’s forcing me to slow down, no AC in my room either so the only respite from the heat is the subway… yay!
First task for today was to make my way to the train station and get tickets on the bullet train to Samarkand.
Samarkand is the main attraction for Uzbekistan as it was the most important midway city on the Silk Road, Marc Antony wrote that he had never seen it’s equal, in fact before the term “Silk Road” was coined there are written records from China referring to these trade routes as “The West Road to Samarkand” and accounts from Rome (Byzantine) calling it “The East Road to Samarkand, to each culture it was the end of the known world, cool eh?
Not much english here and after several false starts I found a ticket window staffed by a lovely Uzbek lady with a bit of english. With her bits of english plus her great attitude and the fact that I knew the names of the different trains in Uzbek and the schedules we were a great team.
Eventually we figured out that the bullet train, the Afrosayib, was already sold out for all the days that could have been of use to me but that the old slower Russian express, the Sharq, was available, got my slow train tickets and it serves me right for not getting them sooner.
Overheated already so happily headed down into the subway for the cross town trip to the market. The Chorso Bazaar has been at the same location since it’s days as a Silk Route trading centre (do I need a “Silk Road” jar that I put a dollar in each time I type it?)
My internet is really struggling, uploading pics is not working but I managed to get a few up:
This lady was great! Making me taste all her sweets and proudly showing off her work. She had a great patter, say a bunch of stuff in Uzbek, look at me, laugh and shrug and move onto the next thing.
My workmate and friend in Vancouver, Vadim is from Tashkent originally and had instructed me to make a lunch out of fresh bread, butter and tomatoes from the market, I did as told and was not disappointed.
Lots of berries are in season and everyone wants me to try thiers, amazing strawberries and these little cherries and some raspberry looking berry the colour of a green grape. Also the largest cauliflowers I have ever seen, insane.
Berries are very much on the not safe to eat while travelling list but I couldn’t resist, so far guts are hanging in there.
The bread kitchen:
After the market I cooled off underground again and rode north to visit the Hast Imam Square, the religous centre of Tashent. Not many people, scalding heat, calm and quiet, I ended up hanging out on the grass here for a good while.
The library at Hast Imam contains a copy of the Quran that has a pretty good claim to being the oldest. There are individual pages here and there that are likely older but this copy likely dates from just after Muhammad’s death and over 1/3rd of the original pages are still intact.
While walking to see the old Quran I got this great shot of a workman trying to repair a fountain while people wait to get in, I’m not kidding about the heat.
After the mosque’s I stopped at a random place for food, super friendly service, amazing homemade strawberry and basil iced tea and really average lamb, oh well, having a pretty great day. Great enough that I even offered one of the ever-present (and I mean EVER present) state security people guarding a subway entrance a fresh cold bottle of water, he looked at me like I was insane, ok, pulling back a pinch.
Spent the rest of the afternoon chilling in a park with lots of the local population (not 3,000,000 worth tho, where is everyone?). Statue in the park of Tamerlane (here Amir Timur), the national hero of Uzbekistan and someone I have been interested in since I can remember (I remember my dad telling me about Tamerlane when I was a really young kid), Tamerlane wasn’t actually Uzbek but hey, who wants to split hairs.