June 3, 2012

Probably the most famous single "Silk Road" scene (minus me):
Samarkand's Registan, the heart of the city during the Timurid dynasty.

Confession:  Faced with so many dozens of spectacular mosques, madrases, minarets, and mausoleums, I ultimately gave up attempting to remember what was built when and by whom -- and even the exact name. I ought to spend an afternoon precisely identifying all these important historical treasures, but for now I'm simply going to post some of the most beautiful and striking ones, along with some "human interest" pics.


Out in western Uzbekistan is an old Silk Road city that is a "must see" because it has so many period buildings restored in the same contiguous area.  Rather than scattered around a modern city, inside the old walls of Khiva are buildings that may not have looked so different a thousand years ago.

Cotton, often grown using manual labor, is a major crop in both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.


Sitting next to me on the Tashkent-Istanbul flight was a high-ranking imam
who said he lived for six years in the second room on the left (first floor)
while studying at this Bukhara madrassa. (Visitors cannot enter the grounds.)

Lots of snacks available at the local market.


These shy students and their shy teacher were visiting from a nearby village.
We seemed to be on the nearly same loop and started laughing as we
kept running into each other throughout the day. Later they started
asking me to pose with them for some photos.

Her:  Elegant traditional dress for special visit to Samarkand.
Him:  Blue jeans.

The "lion madrassa" from the ground.

The "lion madrassa" viewed from the top of the opposite minaret.

TASHKENT: I started and ended my Central Asia circle in Tashkent, a large (population 2 to 4 million depending on source) and surprisingly modern, green city with wide boulevards.

Dinner with nice guy Ilhom (who is a guide but was not my guide)
and his wife whose name I better not try to spell.

Every Uzbek city has a least one big statute of Amir Temur (aka Tamerlane).
For the record, he was by all accounts at least as brutal as Genghis Khan.

By the late 1300s, the Timurid empire was vast.
Every country seems to exalt its perceived "golden age"
of maximum power and territory.  This was the time when
an Uzbek dynasty held its greatest sway -- no longer being
trampled by the Persians, Greeks, Mongols, Russians, et al.

Another huge Tamerlane stature at the entrance to the enormous
gates to what is left of his palace down in Shakrisabz.

Across from my hotel was a lovely old opera house.  Every evening speakers played recorded semi-classical music while choreographed and colored waters danced and hundreds of people gathered to enjoy the show and the cool night air.

In my hotel lobby, of the many creative poses that the
wedding photographer suggested, this was my favorite.