Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Monday, October 30, 2023

Surprised by the number of tourists here

Uzbekistan is having a bit of a heat wave for the next couple of days. Highs around 29C (84F) with hazy skies. Not really that humid, but it's definitely hot if you're in the sun. Supposed to be back to normal highs of 19C (66F) by Tuesday.

We set off to explore the city of Bukhara.

Considering Bukhara is a place we had never heard of prior to researching this trip, once again, it's far more touristy than we were expecting. Trinket shops everywhere. We always wonder how they all stay in business. We figure that the cost of their product must be so low that they only have to overcharge two or three tourists a day to make enough profit to make it worth their while.

Most tourists are Russian, but we also see guided tour groups speaking French, German, and Spanish, so there are quite a few European tourists coming here as well. We hardly hear any English though. Very few people from Canada, USA, or Australia.

Breakfast is included once again at our guest house here in Bukhara.

The main drag entering the older area.

The main tourist area is centered around this 400 year old man made pond.

It's really quite pretty.

One of our FB readers asked the other day "do you feel safe in that part of the world right now?"

And my answer was "Totally. There is nothing going on here". And it does feel totally safe. Certainly as much as anywhere in Europe, and possibly safer. The problems in the middle east are far away from here, and while there are minor problems at the border of Afghanistan, it's not something we're concerned about. 

A group of kids getting some exercise.

Lots of these pretty tiled buildings.

Tourist shops everywhere.
The guy in uniform is one of the tourist police.

Trinkets anyone?

Maybe a knife, or an odd pair of scissors?


But, most of these buildings cost money to enter, and often there isn't much to see inside. So you really need to do some research ahead of time to find out if it's worth your time and money to go. Personally, I am quite happy to see the free things available outside, but there is the occasional one that Ruth wants to see. So she will pay to go inside, and then if it's worth it she'll tell me to go as well. So far, I haven't gone.

Some of them are having some work done.

This is another impressive one.

Some local ladies.

We paid to go into the Kalyan Mosque. It needs some work!

Inside the courtyard of the Kalyan Mosque.

The Kalyan Minaret on the right.

The Kalyan Minaret was built in 1127. It so impressed Genghis Khan when he was here rampaging a hundred years later that he ordered it to be spared when everything around was destroyed by his men.

It is also known as the Tower of Death, because until as recently as the early twentieth century criminals were executed by being thrown from the top. The last one in 1920.

Zindon Prison, and the bug pit!

In 1842, British soldiers Connolly and Stoddart were kept alive while being held in a pit where their captors would throw scorpions, bugs, and rodents onto their heads. Ironically, Conolly had the unfortunate fate of being sent to Bukhara to get Stoddart released. They spent a year together in the bug pit, before the Emir finally had them executed.

Ruth paid to go inside...

We then wandered over to the Ark of Bukhara, a 5th century fortress. Ruth had done some research and we decided not to pay the 100,000 SOM ($8.25 USD, $11.25 CAD) for the two of us to go inside.

Entrance to the Ark of Bukhara.

You can also go up the Bukhara water tower for a view, also priced at 100,000 SOM for the two of us so we figured it was too much plus it was a hazy day.

A pretty camel on display for the tourists.

The wall on the other side of the ark was being rebuilt.

The natural gas pipeline running to private homes.

The local fire station!

I've been needing a haircut for at least two weeks. We passed by a barbershop and the guy was doing nothing. He enticed us in, and didn't have to work at it very hard, because as I said, I needed a haircut.

We know that haircuts are cheap in this part of the world. 

Getting a haircut in Uzbekistan.

I was only in the chair about ten minutes. Not the best haircut I've ever had, but it's better than it was! When he was finished he positioned my head weirdly and cracked my neck like a chiropractor would do. Then he did it the opposite way. Ruth could hear it crack from where she sat. I have to admit, it did feel pretty good afterwards!

Me, and the barber.

Then, the guy tried to rip me off!

I asked how much, and he puts the number 15 in his calculator. And says "dollars". He wanted $15 USD.

I laughed at him. And I said, I don't have dollars, only SOM.

He says 150,000 SOM. ($12.25 USD, $17 CAD).

I laughed again, and said  a firm "no"!

He says "how much you pay?" in broken English.

I said 50,000 SOM ($4.10 USD, $5.65 CAD.

He shrugs his shoulders, and says "okay".

Well, gotta give him credit for trying. I probably still paid too much.

Tourist restaurant in the central area.

We're having a bit of a tough time with the food here. Uzbekistan is not known as a place to visit for the food! And while the couple of restaurants we've found have been "okay", we know that they are not places many locals would go. And of course checking out google maps reviews, finds mostly restaurants that are reviewed by tourists.

We ended up going back to the same place we were the night before.

Ruth has some company for dinner.

I had some kind of meat dish on top of fries.
It was good, but the sauce made the fries soggy!

Ruth had the national dish "plov"... meat and rice.

I had a glass of wine, and Ruth had a spiced tea. Total bill including service charge was 180,000 SOM ($14.75 USD, $20.40 CAD).

Introducing Apple Watch Series 9.

And in Canada...

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