View from the top of Old Man of Coniston hike in Lake District National Park, England.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Preston, Lancashire, England.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Wyke, West Yorkshire, England on May 29th!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Bought some more flight tickets!

And finally, I am all caught up on the blog posts. Not having internet access while in Turkmenistan for five days meant that I was playing catch up since we got back online!

So the post you are reading now actually details what we did yesterday. And one of the things we did yesterday was some more onward travel planning.

On Thursday the 2nd (tomorrow) we are going to cross the land border into Tajikistan. From there, we will head to the capital city of Dushanbe although it might or might not take us a couple of days. We're going to wing it with local transportation. And when we reach Dushanbe we're going to stay a few days. But the only logical way back out is to fly from Dushanbe back up to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

So I booked us the one hour flight on Uzbekistan Airlines from Dushanbe to Tashkent on November 8th for $84 USD each. Unfortunately the $USD has been running higher lately, and the $CAD has been dropping so anything bought in $USD is getting quite expensive for us Canadians! That $84 USD is now $117 CAD. 

I also booked our onward travel to Bangkok, Thailand. We fly December 1st on IndiGo Airlines, India's largest airline. From Almaty, Kazakhstan to Bangkok with a five hour connection in New Delhi. A decent price, at $303 CAD ($218 USD) each.

So, let's get back to our current location... Samarkand (pop 552,000).

Samarkand is one of the oldest cities in central Asia. Some estimates say it goes back to 700 BC, however at minimum it has been continuously inhabited for at least 2,500 years.

Ruth, and a big wall mural.

First impressions of Samarkand is that it is much greener and more modern than Bukhara. More trees and greenery, noticeably different because Bukhara is more of a desert environment to begin with.

We walked to one of the main attractions here... Registan Square.

The square is framed by three Islamic Schools. One built in 1420, and the others in 1636 and 1660.

Another popular spot for wedding photography!

Registan Square.

We made our way to the ticket booth, but couldn't justify the fee for foreigners. There was really only one room we wanted to see, but for 50,000 SOM ($4.10 USD, $5.65 CAD) each we could do without.

We were fine just admiring the architecture from the outside.

Most of the attractions here are old mosques and mausoleums and the fancy tilework on the buildings. The problem is, they charge foreigners that 50,000 SOM fee to enter any of them, so it would quickly add up if you wanted to see them all. We think we saw a pass available for 200,000 SOM per person, but we're not positive. If you are an Uzbek citizen, the prices are far cheaper. 

We purposely upload full size images on this blog so that you can click the photo to make it full screen. 
Then click again to zoom in on the detail.

Entrance to the Emir Temur Mausoleum.

Reading online reviews of some of these attractions, many of the interiors also have a lot of tourist trinket sellers!

We made our way to the local market... a busy place. Local markets are always interesting!

Lots of nuts.

And spices!

We found a vantage point where we could watch the goings on for a while.

We bought a bottle of fresh pomegranate juice for 20,000 SOM ($1.60 USD, $2.25 CAD).

Busy main road.
I would say that more than half the vehicles on the road are taxis!

Yet another mosque.

There was a massive graveyard on the other side of this mosque.
Almost every headstone had a an engraved photo of the deceased.

Even the older, less ornate ones!

Yet another mausoleum.

It's an attractive setting on the outside.

This one, we hummed and hawed about paying to go inside. We decided that we needed some exercise more, and there was a big, free archeological site with some trails just the other side of this.

Afrasiyab is the ruins of the medieval city of Samarkand. It was the main populated area from about the 7th century until it was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of 1320.

It's a large area covering about 220 hectares, and you have to dig down 8-12 meters to reach the ruins so something like 80% of it remains unexcavated. And, most of the excavations that have taken place were done between 1924 and 1935. There is no work currently being carried out.

One of the old excavation sites.

Every few steps you can pick up broken pottery.

What treasures remain to be found underneath us?

We were the only ones around, except for a couple of shepherds.

Back in the city.

Zoomed in on a tower.
This one looks like it needs some work.

We ended up doing about 10 kms (6 miles) which is more exercise than we've had in quite a while!

We relaxed in the room for a couple of hours before heading out to find some dinner...

Huge statue of some king?

There are a lot of these fancy lights lining the main streets in our area.

We found another inexpensive local restaurant for dinner. The guy spoke some English, which is not very common around here. They were out of some dishes, so we both ended up ordering the same thing... beef stroganoff.

The funniest looking beef stroganoff we have ever seen!

Two plates of "stroganoff", and Ruth had a tea, and I ordered a bottle of carbonated water that ended up being a bottle of Sprite. Total cost including 10% service charge was 82,000 SOM ($9.25 CAD, $6.65 USD) for the two of us.

Eating has been a bit of a challenge. Uzbekistan is not known for a country that you would visit because of its cuisine in the first place (think greasy meat and not many fruits or veggies), and it's even more of a challenge trying to fit gluten free into the mix on top of that. But, we are surviving. We'll muddle our way through the month of November, but are already looking forward to eating in Thailand!

We have a decent breakfast at the guest house that is included in the overnight cost, then we have snacks for lunch, and pay to go out for dinner.

Temperature was much more refreshing at 19C (66F) with generally sunny skies.

Record low deal on this Apple Watch Series 7.

And in Canada...

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